Summer is coming soon, and so is the heat. Nothing can cool you down on a hot day better than a nice refreshing beverage. You’d like to have a margarita, but it’s frowned upon at work or during your morning commute. Luckily, we Latinos have plenty of delicious soda options. You could drink an American soft drink – Lord knows a Mexican Coke made with real sugar is delicious- or you could go for one of these beloved Latino soft drinks. We could say something about how you should drink water rather than soda, but we both know that isn’t going to happen. Calories don’t count if you drink them, right? Obviously, we can’t list all of the great sodas of Latin America here. We picked these five because of their availability, popularity, and history among Latinos living in the U.S.
The flavor combination of carnitas tacos and a Jarritos Mandarina cannot be beat. This iconic brand started in Mexico in 1950, and soon spread to the United States. Like many Latino sodas, they are mainly fruit flavored. Mandarina, limon, tamarindo, toronja, piña, are just some of their flavors. The inspiration behind Jarritos comes from Mexican aguas frescas, which are blended beverages flavored with fruits and grains. You can pretty much find Jarritos everywhere in the “Hispanic Foods” isle at the supermarket. You know, the Goya section.
If Atahualpa hadn’t been killed by Pizzaro, he probably would be hawking Inca Kola. The great soda of Peru is a strange drink. It is flavored with lemon-verbena, is super sweet, and is the same shade and color as pee pee. To many people this is the Latino soda of choice. Several years ago Inca Kola was purchased by Coca-Cola, so you can find Inca Kola in most supermarkets in both cans and 2 liter bottles.
Malta is a malted beverage, but it won’t get you messed up like Olde English. It is a heavy grain soda with a slightly bitter taste. That’s because it is made with barley, hops, and water just like beer. They stop the process before it ferments and becomes more awesome. The two most popular brands are Malta Hatuey and Malta Goya. Hatuey was a Taino Indian chief who led a revolt against the Spanish in Cuba during the 1500’s. As a reward, he now gets to be on a soda label. History goes to the victors.You can usually only find malta at Latino grocery stores.
Materva is like no soda you’ve never had before. That’s because it is made from a grass. No, not that one. It is flavored by yerba maté. The native people of South America have been drinking a tea made from dried yerba maté for thousands of years, and it is still popular throughout South America. Materva is a sparkling soda flavored with maté and has a nice herbal taste to it. Did we mention how high in caffeine maté is? Don’t drink this close to bedtime. Materva is a little harder to find, but it is usually available at Latino supermarkets and bodegas.
Pineapple soda? Genius! Everyone’s favorite fruit is mixed with sparkling water and high fructose corn syrup to create this symphony of yum. Seriously, Jupiña is delicious. It is made by the same company that makes Materva, and is usually also available mainly at Latino supermarkets or in bodegas in the hood.
Honorable mention: Fanta is originally from Europe, but we Latinos love us some Fanta. What’s not to love? Fruit flavored soda and commercials with scantily clad Fantanas? Why yes! Also, we’d like to give a shout out to Ironbeer. Ironbeer is a soda brand originally from Cuba and tastes like the love child of cream soda and a Coke. It’s hard to find Ironbeer outside of South Florida and a few other Cuban enclaves, but if you get the chance to drink one, do it.