They say drunk people and children (los borrachos y los niños) always tell the truth. The Romans had a similar saying: in vino veritas, which means almost the same… but sounds a bit fancier because it’s Latin.
Latinos of all times—whether you find them on the streets and in the taverns of ancient Rome, hitting a bar in Williamsburg or going for a nightcap in the Lower East Side—know their alcohol. They are aware of its importance as a lubricant for friendship, dancing and other types of human-to-human interactions.
But Latinos are not mere consumers of alcoholic beverages. Inventive and resourceful as they are, Latinos have given a great variety of distilled, fermented and otherwise prepared liquors and drinks to the world.
To mention all Latin-derived libations and the best Latino cocktails would take forever, so here’s an abbreviated list of our picks of best Latino cocktails and where to score them in New York City. Salud, and drink responsibly! (Read: don’t be caught dead ordering a Heineken at the bar.)
Enjoyed by pirates and classy girls alike, and produced in the English as well as in the Spanish speaking countries of the Caribbean, Rum is a sweet beverage distilled from sugar cane. You can enjoy mixed into a piña colada or have it with Coke, a drink referred to by many as a Cuba Libre or, given the irony of the name, a Mentirita. For us, no other rum cocktail affords the feeling of Caribbean air in your glass like a Mojito: a blend of rum, sugar, lime, mint and a splash of club soda. You don’t have to go to Miami (or Cuba!) to get a delicious Mojito, there are some impressive Mojitos right here in the Tri-State area.
Mojito Cuban Cuisine
(82 Washington Ave., Brooklyn, 718.797.3100)
Harvested in the central region of Mexico, the agave plant has actually given the world more than one alcoholic beverage. The most famous of these is tequila: a distilled version of agave that can be enjoyed in a mixed drink, as a shot dropped inside a full mug of beer (a drink called el Submarino) or as a shot with salt and lime, which Mexican call Caballito. with lime and salt. The Banderita is a traditional Mexican shot that’s served to mimic the colors of the Mexican flag: green, white and red. The shot is accompanied by a shot of Sangrita and a full shot of lime juice. We’d be remiss to leave out the ever-popular margarita, which has undergone thousands of mutations. From mango to strawberry, there’s just about every variety of margarita out there. Although, the traditional tequila, lime juice, agave and salt-rimmed glass is by far our favorite.
(434 7th Ave., #A, Brooklyn, 718.369.3144)
Tequila’s lesser-known brother is Mezcal. Also a distilled beverage, Mezcal has a smoky yet strong flavor that is best enjoyed straight. It’s also the Mexican liquor sold with a small worm inside the bottle. As the Mexican saying goes, para todo mal, Mezcal!
Mezcal Mexican Restaurant
396 5th Ave., Brooklyn, 718.965.6050
If you’re in the market for something funkier, slightly older but also trendy, we suggest trying pulque. This fermented drink, which is also derived from the agave plant, and looks a bit like milk. Pulquerías, a name give to establishments that sell pulque–were abundant in Mexico until the middle of the 20th century when beer became more popular. However, in recent years, Pulque has made a comeback, and new pulquerías are popping up in the trendiest areas of Mexico City.
(367 Broadway, Brooklyn, 718. 782.3797)
Straight from colonial times, pisco is an authentic Mestizo drink. It’s distilled from grapes and can be mixed with lemon juice and tonic water, or, for authentic Peruvian experience, opt for a Pisco Sour—a cocktail blend of pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, bitters and topped with egg whites. The Maricucha is a popular, fruiter version of the typical pisco.
(139 Smith Street, Brooklyn, 718.254.9933)
Note: If your weekend bender involves trying out all of our suggestions at once, remember that, if truth does reside in wine, like the Romans used to say, then it is better to disclose it gota a gota. Salud!