Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Tue March 01 2016

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | March 1, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Signature Cocktails in the New World: Legends and Insider Tips

    Signature Cocktails in the New World: Legends and Insider Tips

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    Many travelers expect to sample an array of exotic dishes during their trips and push themselves to try as many unfamiliar foods as possible. That’s a great way to experience a destination but too many people experiment with cuisine but order their same old, tried-and-true drinks.

    Most countries boast a signature cocktail that combines local ingredients and sensibilities, offering another chance to experience the culture. So before you order your usual Pinot Grigio, consider sipping on these specialty drinks during your travels:

    Peru: Pisco Sour

    Pisco is a brandy-like liquor distilled from grapes and made in Peru — although Chile also claims ownership. The cocktail blends Pisco, egg white, lime, simple syrup and Angostura bitters into a heavenly concoction of sweet and sour tastes.

    READ MORE: 15 Cocktails You Can Mix On The Plane

    Served in Lima, Peru since 1904, Peruvians take their Pisco Sours very seriously, so much so that there is a dedicated National Pisco Sour Day on the first Saturday of February. If you stroll the streets of Lima at night, restaurant owners will entice you with free Pisco Sours to draw you through the door. Take them up on it and even if the food isn’t great, the Pisco Sours are guaranteed to be unforgettable.

    Canada:  Bloody Caesar

    Americans have their Bloody Mary’s and Canadians swear by their Bloody Caesars. Created in 1969 at the Westin Hotel in Calgary, Alberta, the drink was whipped up to the opening of Marco’s, the hotel’s Italian restaurant. The original ingredients included mashed clams, tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and a celery stick garnish.  The zesty cocktail became so popular that Mott’s developed “Clamato” juice specifically for the drink. You can visit the Westin and slurp on the drink at the rooftop pool or order it anywhere in Canada.

    Brazil: Caipirinha

    The Portuguese word “Caipirinha” translates loosely to “little country bumpkin,” a nod to its origins on sugarcane plantations. It’s a deceptively simple drink of muddled lime, sugar and Cachaca, which is distilled liquor from sugar cane.

    Similar to rum, Cachaca retains more impurities, but is not pleasant to drink on its own. Brazilians have downed gallons of the spirit for centuries and the story goes that the Caipirinha was created when sugarcane workers were searching for a palatable way to drink Cachaca. Other tales say that the Caipirinha was originally a folk remedy for cold symptoms — something still common today.

    Although you can order a Caipirinha all over the world, it’s a distinctly Brazilian concoction with a recipe that’s standardized by Brazilian law. If you visit a large city like Rio or Salvador Bahia, check out a Cachacaria, which is a restaurant//bar that serves up hundreds of varieties of Cachaca.

    Cuba: Mojito

    Now that Cuba is opening up to American tourists, swallowing the national drink with the streets of Havana as a backdrop tops many bucket lists. The Mojito uses similar ingredients to a Caipirinha (rum, sugar, lime juice and muddled mint leaves with a splash of club soda) and has a related history.

    The original drink used aguardiente — a crude form of rum — and combined lime, mint and sugar as a cold remedy for sugarcane plantation workers. Another story gives credit to Richard Drake, an associate of explorer Francis Drake, who invented the mixture of aguardiente, lime, mint and sugar during their unsuccessful attempt to raid Havana in 1586, dubbing it El Draque.

    When Bacardi made rum more accessible on the island, aguardiente was replaced with rum and the new blend was dubbed “Mojito.”

    Ernest Hemingway made the cocktail famous beyond Cuba when he regularly downed them at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana and in Key West.

    READ MORE: Master Mixologist Creates New Cocktails for Holland America Line

    Puerto Rico: Pina Colada

    This tropical drink is so ubiquitous that you can order it almost anywhere in the world, but there’s nothing like sipping a Pina Colada on the shores of its Puerto Rican homeland.

    Two San Juan landmarks claim invention of the popular cocktail — The Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar and Barrachina Restaurant, which displays a plaque to commemorate the creation. There’s also a tale of Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresi whipping up a concoction of rum, pineapple and coconut to boost the spirits of his crew in the 1800s. Whichever story you embrace, you’ll still enjoy the creamy sweetness of Puerto Rico’s official cocktail.


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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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