Top 10 Drinks to try in South America

Updated May 29th, 2017.

1. Mate (mah-teh):

A herbal drink similar to tea that is shared around a group in a pot and drunk through a metal straw. You’ll probably see people carrying these pots on public transport, especially around the cities all around Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Southern Brazil.

2. Quilmes:

Started by a German immigrant to Buenos Aires in 1888, this light, blonde beer has become a national institution in Argentina with three out of every four beers bought in the country are Quilmes it’s hard to get away from the blue and white labels that meet your eyes at every bar.

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3. Malbec:

Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world, mainly producing red wine from the Malbec grape and most of this wine activity all happens in the Mendoza area which has more vineyards than the whole of Australia and New Zealand combined. The best way to get into Malbec isn’t just buying a bottle from the supermarket but visiting Mendoza for yourself and spending a day on a bike exploring each winery for itself. There’s no better way to get giddy with black teeth than stumbling round theses incredible vineyards at the foothills of the Andes on a sunny afternoon.

4. Coca Tea:

It may have the same raw ingredient of cocaine but this tea has been used for medicinal purposes by many indigenous Andean peoples for thousands of years. With a bitter green tea taste, it is the perfect remedy for altitude sickness and perfectly legal in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. If you’re flying back to or via the US just remember to get rid of all traces otherwise you could be in big trouble.

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5. Caipirinha:

Brazil’s most famous cocktail, made from cachaça (Brazilian sugar cane alcohol similar to rum), sugar and lime with ice. Even though it’s hard to find outside Brazil, the country’s national cocktail can be found almost anywhere for a decent price. There is no excuse not to drink one during your time at Brazil.

6. Aguardiente:

This a general term for a strong spirit drunk throughout South America that changes in taste and strength from country to country. It’s made from distilling fruits or sugar cane and can be anything from 28% to throat-numbing 60%. A few shots of this would earn you big respect from heavy drinking locals. Trust me it can burn!

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7. Inca Kola:

Originally from Peru this sugary sweet soft drink is a yellow color so artificial you may worry it shouldn’t be ingested. Flavored to taste like bubble gum, the first sip can be slightly alarming, but give it a fair chance and you’ll be stopping by every street car looking for another bottle!

8. Pisco Sour:

Invented in Lima in the early 1900s (though don’t mention this to Chillenos, it’s a sore spot) this cocktail is now found all over Chile and especially Peru. It’s now so popular that both countries have their own National Pisco sour days 8th February in Chile and the first Saturday of every February in Peru. The drink is made of a clear brandy, Pisco with a sour part coming lemon juice, syrup and in Peru, egg whites. Trust me, it’s nicer than it sounds.

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9. Jugo de Maracujá:

Having a detox after some heavy drinking? Nothing can be more refreshing than a freshly made passion fruit juice that are cheap and easy to find in street stalls and markets.

10. Canelazo:

A hot alcoholic drink popular in Andean countries such as Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. The drink uses the fiery spirit Aguardiente but has lots of variations that in Ecuador and Colombia can make it being mixed with fruit juice (often Maracujá)  with cloves and in Peru it’s often lemon juice and cinnamon. This drink is a must for a cold night in the Andes and is the perfect cure for a sleepless night from altitude sickness.

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