Last week we gave you a tour of Latin American beers. No list can be comprehensive, especially since we Latinos love us some beer. But sometimes, you want more kick than a brew can give you. Luckily, we Latinos have created a bevy of liquor options for your imbibing pleasure. These liquors are great on their own or in a myriad of cocktails. Our Mayan cousins used to make a piping hot liquor of hot chocolate, agave, and peyote which they took as an enema to get drunk quicker. If you are into that kind of thing, we aren’t judging. For the rest of us, a nice caballito of tequila or a glass of rum on the rocks will do just fine. Here is a list of the top Latino liquors.
Ah…mother’s milk. Rum is distilled from molasses, and comes not surprisingly from the Caribbean. Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Barbados, etc. were like Europe’s sugar jar in the days of slavery. Naturally, they derived a type of booze from all that sugar lying around. It can be drunk by itself or in cocktails like the mojito, the Cuba libre, the daiquiri, the piña colada and other tasty treats. Plus, it’s what pirates drink. Pirates, people.
If Mexico had veins, it would pump tequila. This distillation from the juice of the agave cactus has been making ugly people pretty and pretty people ugly for centuries. Which one of us hasn’t done something stupid after an evening with señor Cuervo? This author once woke up under a couch wearing a woman’s floppy hat. You can drink tequila in a margarita or on its own. In Jalisco, where tequila is from, they drink it with a tasty tomato and chili chaser called sangrita. In the U.S. the ritual of drinking tequila involves licking salt off your hand, taking the shot, and sucking on a lime. This can also be done on a girl as a body shot. Salt on the neck, shot glass between the boobs, and lime in her mouth. We don’t recommend it if she looks like she might give you herpes along with that lime.
Go to Brazil and you will drink cachaça, or at least you should. It is similar to rum, but different in some chemical way that we don’t understand because we got a C in chemistry. The Brazilians are mighty proud of their hometown liquor and with good reason. It’s smoother than most rums and is a great mixer. Just like rum or tequila, it can be aged in wood barrels to add depth and whatnot to the color and flavors. Classically, cachaça is the main ingredient in caipirinha which is Brazil’s national cocktail. A few glasses of cachaça after a futbol victory is the best way to celebrate. Plus, when you write about it you get to type that cool ç.
Pisco is sort of like Italian grappa, only don’t tell the Peruvians or Chileans that. Chile is known throughout the world for its fine wines. We would tell you more about Chiliean wines, except that we bloggers lack the knowledge or sophistication of a sommelier. Basically, pisco is a grape brandy made by distilling and fermenting grape juice or old wine. Both Peru and Chile lay claim to the best pisco and we aren’t getting in the middle of that fight. The pisco sour is the national cocktail of both countries. This should bring them together rather than pull them apart.
It isn’t just the “Dukes of Hazard” that can make moonshine! Different forms of aguardiente can be found throughout Latin America. Usually, it’s a clear, quickly distilled, highly alcoholic liquor made from fermented sugar cane juice. In Colombia, they add anise to give mask its rubbing alcohol flavor. Colombian aguardiente tastes like licorice, if licorice burned like battery acid as it slid down your esophagus. It isn’t called “fire water” for nothing.