It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere: Our Guide to South American Spirits

It seems as though every country in South America has their own national drink – one that is consumed by the masses and that you will find at any bar, restaurant, club, BBQ and house party in the country. These beloved South American spirits are slowly, but steadily, beginning to make their mark in countries around the world. Here’s a taste of the continent’s best libations, where you can find them in your neck of the wood and our favorite recipes for you to try at home.

Argentina: Fernet

While Fernet Branca is technically of Italian stock, this bitter spirit is most at home (and consumed) in Argentina. However, Portenos’ love of Fernet has now spread to the United States. In San Francisco, ask for the “Bartender’s Handshake” and you’ll get a shot of Fernet followed by a ginger beer chaser. In New York, you can find the Fernet-spiked “The Fedora” at Brooklyn Social (

The Fedora
1/4 oz. Fernet Branca
2 1/2 oz Mitcher’s Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
twist of citrus

Pour the Fernet into an ice filled shaker and “wash the ice” by stirring the liquid, then drain it. Combine the Rye and the vermouth in the shaker. Stir rigorously and serve up in a martini or coupe class. Garnish with a twist of lemon or burnt orange.

Brasil: Cachaça

The number one alcohol in Brasil and third in the world in terms of consumption, Cachaça is quickly gaining ground on more traditional spirits. If you’re thirsty for some Cachaça in Paris and tired of the traditional Caiprinha, ask for the “Batida de Coco” at Favela Chic.

Batida de Coco
400 ml. of coconut milk
4 tbs. of Cachaça
Mint to taste
A splash of condensed sweetened milk

Shake or blend with ice and pour.

Colombia: Aguardiente

While most South American countries have their own version of aguardiente, Colombians proudly consume the most of this unique liquor. Made from sugarcane, Aguardiente tastes like anise and has a whopping 29% alcohol content. Each region in Colombia has its own version but out favorite is Antioqueño. Though usually consumed straight, this cocktail is ideal for amateurs.

Walpurgis Night
2 oz. Cognac
2 oz. Aguardiente
3 dashes bitters
brown sugar to taste
Club soda

Mix the first four ingredients in a mixing cup and pour them into a glass with ice. Add a lemon peel and a sprig of mint and finish with club soda.

Peru: Pisco

As Uruguay and Argentina fight over maté, Peru and Chile battle for Pisco bragging rights. We always love the classic Pisco Sour, but be sure to try out the “Cape Fizz,” the winner at London Cocktail Week’s Pisco competition. You can also find it served at Barrio North ( in Islington.

Cape Fizz
4-5 red grapes (muddled)
40 ml. Pisco
15 ml. gomme syrup
1 egg white
20 ml. Xante Pear
25 ml. apple juice
25 ml. lemon juice
Soda water top

Shake all ingredients without ice or grapes then add the muddled grapes and ice, shake hard and serve over fresh ices. Top with soda (optional).

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Argentina, Brazil, Buenos Aires, Colombia, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo

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