Whenever I arrive to Cartagena, Colombia, after the hot, sticky cab ride from the airport, all I can think about is that I need something cold and refreshing to drink. In many cases a limonada de coco is waiting for me at check in at whatever hotel I’m checking into. It’s the unofficial welcome drink of Cartagena.
The Ica region is Peru’s leading grower of grapes, with the area around the city of Ica itself being the epicenter. Pisco, a sweet aromatic grape brandy is produced here, as well as wine.
Agua de Sapo is a traditional Costa Rican drink made from tapa de dulce (unrefined sugar), limes and ginger that originated in the Limón province on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, an area that takes on a much more Afro-Caribbean feel than it’s more Latin flavored Pacific side. According to Monte Azul, a lovely hotel on a private mountain reserve near Chirripó National Park, the region’s cultural roots are apparent in the language which is a Patois based on Jamaican English, with French, Spanish and Bri Bri (the principal indigenous people of the area) influences.
Demerara. That word alone is infectious. It’s derived from the Arawak language, meaning “river of the letter wood.” It sounds exotic. It is exotic. Demerara is a place, among other things related to that place. It’s a region of Guyana founded by the Dutch. There’s a river, also called Demerara. There are fields of sugarcane lined with canals where herons and egrets wade. The air is sweet smelling. It smells of forests. And the Caribbean, which is not far away.
To understand Pisco Porton, you must first understand Mosto Verde Pisco. Pisco Porton is probably the most highly anticipated pisco to hit the US market in the past few years, amid a slew of other new Peruvian pisco brands. It’s crafted by Master Distiller Johnny Schuler (considered a top pisco expert in Peru) at Hacienda la Caravedo in Ica (the oldest distillery in the Americas). It is the only pisco readily available on the US market to be Mosto Verde.
Easter Island, or Rapa Nui (or Isla de Pascua) finally has a beer and brewery to call its own. The non-filtered, 100% natural, and double fermented Mahina beer operation is partially owned by explora hotel associate and one time underwater diving champion Mike Rapu. The bottle states that the beer is produced under a full moon using an ancient recipe from the wise man Paca, though that may be a bit of an embellishment.
When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil I had been traveling for approximately 22 hours. Many of those hours I was rushing to catch a train, to catch a flight, and to catch another flight. I dropped my bags off at my hotel, the Marina All Suites in Leblon, and went straight to the Hotel Fasano’s Al Mare restaurant in Ipanema to begin my first lesson in Brazilian cachaça, which few realize is the third most consumed spirit in the world. I started off with a almost traditional caipirinha with a little bit of fresh passion fruit juice in it (with Leblon), Brazil’s signature cocktail that’s muddles cachaça with sugar and lime.