Tuesday, July 9, 2013

La Comida Dominicana: Alcoholic Drinks

A "Santo Libre": Rum and Lemon-Lime Soda
Two drinks that are always potable are beer and rum. Social gatherings are not complete without one of these two Dominican favorites. The most popular national beer, plastered on billboards everywhere, is Presidente. Its main competition is Bohemia and the Brazilian beer Brahma. All three of these beers are pilsners. There is a darker beer, Ambar, but it is less widespread.

Presidente Beer

Even Hillary Enjoys a Bien Fría.
Presidente is the most popular drink in the Dominican Republic, and has roots just as lofty. Cervecería Nacional Dominicana (CND), a company that distributes most of the beer (including Bohemia) and several other drinks available in the DR, is the current owner and producer of Presidente. The beer was first brewed in 1935, with permission from Trujillo to bestow his title on the beverage. Presidente became increasingly popular, and in 1986 CND was taken over by the large Grupo León Jimenes, of banking and cigar fame. The beer itself is a pilsner, with an alcohol content of about five percent. Presidente beer is a true Dominican icon. The brand supports various cultural and artistic events, fairs, and concerts, including the Carnaval festivities in La Vega.


Just as ubiquitous as Presidente is Brugal, the favored hometown Dominican rum. Take it straight out of the bottle, as is done in the countryside, or play it cool by mixing it with Coke and ice. Urban Dominicans turn to Barceló, a smoother and slightly more expensive brand of rum. Other lesser-known brands include Siboney and Macorix. Rum generally comes as both white (blanco) and dark, of which there are three kinds: the cheapest and sharpest, dorado; a mid-level variety, called añejo; and the longest-aged, most expensive, extra viejo or extra añejo.

One of the most popular, and intriguing, rum-based drinks is mamajuana. An empty bottle is filled with cinnamon, clove, and any other number of other herbs, bark and spices. Another seaside variation involves the eyebrow-raising ingredients of octopus, conch, oysters and squid. The solid ingredients are first cured with honey or molasses and red wine. Rum is then poured in and allowed to soak in the various flavors before being consumed. Dominicans will enthusiastically speak of mamajuana’s aphrodisiac qualities, usually accompanied by a corresponding hand gesture.

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