Yesterday, we returned from a tremendous vacation in Costa Rica. Even before I took a serious interest in mixology, I tried to see the local booze when out of the US. For instance, my wife and I went to port lodges in Portugal. Prior to a little pre-trip research for this journey, I wasn't aware of any booze native to Costa Rica or any rum produced there. It turns out that Costa Rica is home to a spirit named guaro that is made from sugar cane. The national brand is Cacique, which was established in 1853. The locals seemed to regard it with a mixture of civic pride and mild disdain. One tour guide said that guaro tears a hole in his stomach. A bartender described it as closer to vodka than rum, based on how mild it was. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
Although I didn't manage to get to the distillery, I had several cocktails with guaro, most of which were versions of a daiquiri or sour. The ones pictured here were not so much classic cocktails as giant vats of awesome consumed with my wife next to a pool with an ocean view in front and monkeys overhead (no joke).
The next drink was called Mango Moonshine and was a signature cocktail of the hotel. It contained blended mangoes, ice, and guaro. Importantly, the mangoes were locally grown and delicious. This drink was also a wonderful poolside sipper, though it was neither strong nor complex.
As a means of remembering the trip and adding an obscure spirit to my collection, I bought a bottle before leaving (FYI, it was very cheap). Sipped straight, it tastes like a mix of rum and vodka, with only mild hints of the sugar. Not the best drink, but certainly usable. In the coming months, I'll no doubt figure out more interesting ways to employ it.