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¡Salud! Toast to Hispanic Heritage Month with one of these traditional cocktails

Adult beverages with something for everyone with a Latin flair

Delicious tequila and lime margaritas on a bar top with tortilla chips and pico de gallo.
Delicious tequila and lime margaritas on a bar top with tortilla chips and pico de gallo. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the cultures of those with Hispanic or Latin backgrounds. So if we’re celebrating, why not a cocktail? (If you’re at least 21 years old, of course.)

There are many popular cocktails with origins and roots in Hispanic countries, some of which you may have heard of before and others perhaps not. Either way, most of these are pretty simple to replicate at home.

We’ll cheers to that!

Piña Colada (Puerto Rico)

Like many cocktails, there’s a little bit of controversy as to which of three bartenders really came up with the Piña Colada but what is agreed on is it’s a delicious mix of coconut cream, pineapple juice, white rum and ice. It was first created in San Juan and is Puerto Rico’s national drink, but it is enjoyed all over the world.

Caipirinha (Brazil)

Somewhat similar to the mojito, the national cocktail of Brazil is made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. It may have been derived from something people drank in the early 19th century to combat the Spanish flu or it may have been something sailors drank because of scurvy, but in any case, São Paulo is the generally accepted origin.

Fernet & Coke (Argentina)

Fernet is an Italian type of amaro. It’s bitter, aromatic and is made from herbs and spices and just as the Argentinians enjoy it, pairs well with a simple cola. Although Fernet is originally from Italy, it’s so popular in Argentina that the Fernet-Branca manufacturers set up a distillery in Buenos Aires.

Paloma (Mexico)

When we think cocktails from Mexico, most people think of the margarita, but really it’s the Paloma that’s the national drink there. Usually, the Paloma is served over ice and consists of tequila, fresh lime juice and grapefruit-flavored soda, although Fresca or Squirt is sometimes used instead. As usual, exactly who created it is in some dispute. Some credit Don Javier Delgado Corona, owner of La Capilla bar in Jalisco, Mexico; others credit bartender Evan Harrison for introducing the Paloma to America.

Touchdown Paloma

El Macuá (Nicaragua)

This fruity, tropical cocktail is the national drink of Nicaragua. It got the title after a nationwide competition and was created by Dr. Edmundo Miranda Saenz. It consists of white rum. Guava juice, orange juice, lemon juice and simple syrup.

Pisco Sour (Peru & Chile)

Pisco is a type of brandy, distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice. There’s some debate on which country it was originally made in but for the most part, Hotel Bolivar is credited for making it famous in the 1920s though a recipe was found published in Lima in 1903. The traditional recipe consists of lime juice, pisco, powdered sugar and a pasteurized egg white. Some recipes substitute sugar syrup or add orange flower/blossom water.

Under the Volcano owner Peter Mitchell shares the recipes to mix up a classic Cuban Mojito and Peruvian Pisco Sour. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Aguardiente Sour (Colombia)

Sometimes called guaro, Colombian Aguardiente is an anise-flavored liqueur made from distilled sugar cane. Much like the Pisco Sour, it contains an egg white, sugar, lime juice but also adds orange juice.

Mamajuana (Dominican Republic)

Sometimes listed as Mama Juana, the national cocktail is a rum drink, likely with ancient origins, created by the native Taino people. We found a lot of different recipes with slight variations, but the constants include rum, red wine, honey and Dominican herbs and tree bark. If you’re making this here in Central Florida—you can check out international grocers or even Amazon to find those Dominican herbs to get your Mamajuana tasting as authentic as possible.

Mojito (Cuba)

Was it created in the 1500s to help sick explorer ship crew members or by African slaves working in the Cuban sugar cane fields near Havana? We’re not really sure, but what we do know is the classic cocktail of white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water and mint is delicious. The key to making the perfect mojito? Lightly pressing the mint leaves to release the mint oil instead of pulverizing the leaves.

Under the Volcano owner Peter Mitchell shares the recipe to mix up their classic Cuban Mojito. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Ponche Crema (Venezuela)

This is the Venezuelan version of eggnog. Once again, we find some variations, but it often includes milk, sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, nutmeg, cinnamon and rum. Some use flan mix, some use lemon zest or lime. In any case, it’s definitely a drink widely enjoyed around the holidays.

Coquito (Puerto Rico)

Although Coquito is generally accepted to be from Puerto Rico, many Cubans have taken the drink and made it their own. Coquito is made from coconut milk or cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and white rum. There’s also some debate on whether egg yolks should be included. We find that most people tend to replicate the recipes passed down in their families and may also include shredded coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and/or nutmeg.

A homemade batch of coquito.

BONUS: Crema de Vie (Cuba)

From our Cuban Senior Executive Producer Angel Blazquez:

“There are many Cuban cocktails, but this one is the most common at Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Although it literally translates to cream of life – it’s a bit of a peculiar name because crema is Spanish and vie is French. But Cubans pronounce it crem-a deh vee-eh. The best way to describe it is Cuban eggnog. It is served as an aperitif after dinner, in either shot glasses or small stemmed glasses. Eggnog first appeared in England in the late 1800s when it was common to drink warm milk and eggs during cold weather, although often with brandy or sherry. It’s most likely that the Cuban drink emerged from the Spanish invaders adding Cuban rum to their local nog drink. It is also likely why similar drinks exist in other Caribbean countries like the cremasse in Haiti, coquito in Puerto Rico and rompope in Mexico. While each one varies slightly they all have a base of egg, dairy, spirit and sugar. Crema de Vie is often given as a present in a decorative bottle. It’s no secret that Cubans have a sweet tooth. Everything from Cuba Libres to Cuban coffee has far more sugar than you were expecting. Crema de vie is no different as its ingredients include a substantial amount of sugar AND sweetened condensed milk. It also includes rum. In Miami, the exiled Cubans are loyal to Bacardi rum, which was also exiled after the revolution. And that’s what we use in ours. I grew up having this every Christmas on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve).”

His family recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Rum - regular or spiced, at least half a cup - any less isn’t worth it!

Directions

  1. Make a syrup-Heat water and sugar in a pot until the sugar has dissolved and the water is clear.
  2. Prepare the nog. In a blender, mix the two cans of milk, egg yolks and vanilla until thoroughly mixed.
  3. When the syrup is ready, pour the egg mix into the pot and stir continuously over med-low heat.
  4. After a minute, pour in the rum - a one cup , and remove from heat.
  5. When the nog has cooled down, transfer to an empty bottle and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

What’s your favorite cocktail with Hispanic/Latin origins? Let us know in the comments!


About the Author:

Tara Evans is an executive producer and has been with News 6 since January 2013. She currently spearheads News 6 at Nine and specializes in stories with messages of inspiration, hope and that make a difference for people -- with a few hard-hitting investigations thrown in from time to time.