Trying new foods and drinks (beers, wines, and liquors) is a great way to learn about the gastronomy of a culture. After 12 eventful days traveling through Guatemala, I have had the opportunity to try several popular local drinks- some alcoholic and some non-alcoholic. The Guatemalans sure love their beers and liquors! They proudly produce several of their own in the capital, Guatemala City. After all the taste-testing, here are the nine best drinks in Guatemala:
1. Gallo Beer
You can basically find this beer in every bar, restaurant and home of the country; it is produced in Guatemala City. It’s advertised everywhere and it’s what Budweiser is to Americans. This is one of the best beers I have tried in Central America and would recommend it to anyone!
2. Moza Beer
I tried this beer in Panajachel in Lake Atitlan. It’s a flavorful, dark beer produced by Cerveceria Centro Americana in Guatemala City. It has some sweet notes, which makes it a great medium-bodied beer for lunchtime.
3. Cabro Beer
This is the main beer found in Quetzaltenango (Xela.) I really liked this pale lager but it’s not that popular outside of Xela, and it’s quite hard to find if you are not at least in the area. Check out Bar Tecun and order Cabro, you will enjoy it!
4. Quetzalteca Rosa de Jamaica
Like the name suggests, this is a pink moonshine-style (agua ardiente) drink. I first tried it on my way to Huehuetenango. It cost me about $1 for a small container. It’s strong, sweet, and intense all at the same time.
5. Ponche de Leche with “Piquete“
This is a hot milk drink that I tried in the street market in Quetzaltenango (Xela). The vendors will always ask you what liquor you want mixed in the drink. I would recommend Piquete. You can also add Bacardi rum, but they have many other choices. This was a great after-dinner drink to warm up with in chilly Quetzaltenango.
6. Quetzalteca Especial
This grapa-style drink will get you drunk fast if you’re not careful. It’s the type of drink that will make you breathe fire, if you know what I mean. Try it in Zunil or use it to clean rust off your car battery!
7. Cusha in a bag
Another drink that can make you breath fire. I bought this drink in a small shop in San Andres de Xecul a small town near Quetzaltenango. This is what the Mayan people of this area drink during festival season. It is also what you will smell all over town if you happen to be there during this time. Extremely strong, so be careful not to over do it. The best part is it costs only 20 cents for a bag. Cusha is only for the bravest of drinkers.
8. Zacapa Centenario Rum
This is Guatemala’s main rum. Try it on the rocks and you will love it. Order yourself this tropical beverage in Restaurant La Cueva de Panza Verde in Antigua. It is widely available throughout the country.
9. Bloody Mary with Gallo Beer
Sounds weird, but once you try it you might not want to drink a regular Bloody Mary again. Any beach restaurant or hotel in Monterrico and Puerto Quetzal will serve it, but you have to ask!
Special thanks to the Guatemala Toursim Organization.