Who doesn’t like a good drink (alcoholic or non) – especially in a place like Costa Rica?
Whenever we travel, we like to try a regional specialty.. in fact, we want to sample as many local drinks as possible! We knew Costa Rica would have plenty of tropical beverages to slake our thirst, and we were excited to sip them all.
If you’d rather not try to figure out how to ask, “what do you recommend?” in Spanish, we have six drinks you should order during your visit. Or if you can’t make it down to Costa Rica, try making them at home!
On our very first night in Alujuela, we walked toward a restaurant for dinner, only to discover another on our way, bustling with people. A crowd of locals is always a good sign, so we decided to give it a shot. The food was delicious (our first introduction to the rice-and-beans Costa Rican staple)!
We decided to also order a drink, so we opted for the only item we didn’t recognize: a batido. What came out resembled a smoothie, but it tasted smoother than any I had had in the States. It was flavorful without being overwhelmingly sweet, and it was frozen – super refreshing on such a hot night.
From then on, I was excited anytime I saw batidos on the menu, including one restaurant with half a dozen flavor options. In trying to clarify two of the options our waiter provided, he simply ran to the back and reemerged with a sample of each. I chose the one he called “cas,” and it is my new favorite thing. Seriously, I now seek out anything with the cas fruit (hard to come by outside of Costa Rica). Similar to a guava, this was the best flavor, hands-down. Give it a try!
- 2 cups cas fruit (or use guava, or any other fruit you’d like)
- 2 cups liquid (water, milk, or milk alternative)
- 1 cup ice
- Sweetener to taste (stevia, brown sugar, agave, honey, etc.)
Blend all ingredients, and enjoy!
Our first night in Puntarenas, we finally dared to ask for recommendations. Our server returned with two new and exotic drinks. The “chili-water” (or chili-guaro) was one of them.
A simple shot, this is reminiscent of a tiny bloody mary – with a kick! I’m personally not much of a fan of this popular breakfast cocktail (not big on tomato juice), but I enjoyed it in this small quantity.
You’ll need some of the Costa Rican liquor, Cacique-Guaro. Be sure to stock up during your visit to Costa Rica, as this liquor is quite scarce in the States. Fortunately, the flavor is somewhat similar to vodka, so the latter can be substituted.
- 1 oz Cacique-Guaro (or vodka if you’re woefully lacking in guaro)
- Juice of one lime wedge
- 2-3 dashes of Tabasco
- Pinch of salt (plus more for the glass rim)
Rim a shot glass with salt and mix all ingredients. Enjoy!
Now, this was the other strange beverage with which our server presented us. It took several attempts to get the name correct so we could order it again (walk a mile? guacamole? wakka-wakka?), but I loved this colorful tropical drink. We ordered it nightly at the resort for the aesthetics, alone.
- 1 part grenadine
- 1 part pineapple juice
- 1 part white rum
- 1 part midori
- 1 part blue curacao
Layer equal parts of each ingredient (in the specified order) in a tall glass, and taste the rainbow!
For a break from the sweet, tropical drinks, we wanted something a little more basic and tart. At this point, I enlisted the trusty interwebz to see what I should really try before we left. Next to chili-water, this was the most recommended drink, so I gave it a go.
Sure enough, it was precisely what I was looking for! It was a refreshing break from the sweet sugar coma, and this quickly became our new favorite at the resort. My overall tastes have since gravitated in this direction, with a classic gin and tonic being my current go-to.
- Juice of half a lime
- 1 teaspoon sugar (to taste)
- 3 oz guaro
- Splash club soda (to taste)
Mix first three ingredients and pour over ice in a cocktail glass. Top with club soda, and enjoy!
I stumbled upon this when I came across a tap of Imperial in the buffet area, accompanied by a cocktail shaker, a plate of salt, and a bowl of limes. Observing, I realized people were mixing up the beer as though it was a cocktail!
This is popular enough to have a station at the buffet, so Aaron had to try it. He ended up liking the beer better by itself, but you’re welcome to try it both ways and let us know which you prefer! (I’m not a fan of beer, in general, myself…)
- 1 fresh lime
- 1 bottle/can of Imperial beer
Moisten glass rim with the lime, then dip the glass in salt. Squeeze the lime into the glass, and add some ice. Pour entire Imperial over the ice, and enjoy!
Make a Michelada – a Costa Rican drink staple – much like a margarita: salt on the rim, Imperial beer in the glass, shaken with ice and a squeeze of lime!Tweet
This is more ice cream than a true beverage – flavored shaved ice layered with thick ice cream and a strange, cake-mix-like powder. This wound up being far too sweet for my tastes, but we were told we simply had to try one, and I’m glad we did. There are shops offering these all over the place, so we deemed it a must-try, even if only once.
- Shaved ice (1-2 cups)
- 2-4 tbsp shaved ice flavor syrup to taste (try kola for an authentic Costa Rican taste)
- 1 tbsp powdered milk
- 2-4 tbsp condensed milk
- 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Layer half the shaved ice, half the syrup, powdered milk, then half the condensed milk. Follow with a layer of the remaining ice, the remaining syrup, and a scoop of ice cream. Top it all with the remaining condensed milk and let the brain freeze commence!
Ok, this isn’t really a drink, which is why it’s a bonus. While it sounds like the fizzy drink you might be used to, the sodas that litter Costa Rican highways are actually small outdoor cantinas. Reminiscent of a bar, they look like a kiosk that sits about half a dozen people and serve a small menu of comfort foods.
Don’t expect the folks here to speak any English, and like a permanent food cart/truck, these don’t offer amenities like air conditioning or bathrooms. But you will get really authentic Costa Rican street food, so they’re definitely worth a stop in.
Costa Rican “sodas” – roadside cantinas – are the best place to get true, authentic local food. Don’t forget the batidos!Tweet
Have you tried something we missed? What Costa Rican drinks would you recommend?
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My name is Brianna, and I have been in love with photography for as long as I can remember. I am almost never without a camera, eliciting some strange looks toward my shooting garbage (never question a photographer’s inspiration!), trepidation from my loving husband when I put myself in some precarious positions to get *just* the right shot, and annoyance from our two cats – frequent subjects of my artistic antics. I welcome you to enjoy my passion with me – all around the world!
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