Aguardiente, a Colombian liquor, literally means “fiery water” and is not for the faint of heart. Best enjoyed at room temperature, the spirit (containing 29%-60% alcohol by volume, depending on the brand and country of origin) is generally made from the fermentation and distillation of a mix of fruit, grains, sugarcane, or even tuber vegetables.
In Colombia, aguardiente has been the drink of choice in the Andean region since Spanish colonial times. The liquor is anise-flavored and produced from local sugarcane. The amount of aniseed added during the production process creates complex variations in flavor, often resulting in a taste like that of strong licorice. Colombians rarely use the liquor in cocktails, instead preferring to drink it neat or in shots. Enjoyed by the masses and the well-to-do alike, it’s considered apropos for nearly any occasion, from celebrations to a sad moment with a good friend, and anything in between—but we would suggest trying it out alongside a hard cheese and some grilled bread, or as a nice finish with a tropical fruit dessert.
Other liquors made in the aguardiente tradition can be found in bars and cantinas in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, Haiti, and Galicia, in northwestern Spain, each with their own characteristic flavors.
Two of the top Colombian brands of the spirit— Antioqueno Aguardiente, the country’s bestseller, and Aguardiente Cristal, are both available to purchase online. Certainly unlike any of the options at your traditional liquor store, this “fiery water” will be sure to break you out of your vodka-tonic rut. So, spice up your next night out and see if you can handle the authentic Colombian heat!
Please note that you must be 21 years of age or older in the US to consume alcoholic beverages (your local law may vary). Most states require that a person 21 or older receive and sign for shipments containing alcoholic beverages and some states do not ship alcoholic beverages to residences.