Alcohol is easily available throughout Ecuador. The legal drinking age of 18 is rarely enforced. Common choices are beer, imported rum and homegrown aguardiente.
Pilsener is Ecuador’s most ubiquitous beer. It is a – you guessed it – pilsner crafted by global brewing giant SABMiller. They are the same folks responsible for Miller Genuine Draft. It should be no surprise then that Pilsener tastes pretty much the same way you remember MGD tasting in high school. If you don’t care how your beer tastes, you’re in luck as Pilsener is the only beer widely available throughout the country. Beer aficionados will likely skip over to Ecuador’s other libations.
Aguardiente, Ecuador’s moonshine, tastes like burning with a molasses aftertaste. Made from distilled sugarcane and left unflavored, aguardiente is a common sight in Ecuadorian bars. The 80 proof liquor is taken as shots or mixed into cocktails with fruit juices and grenadine. Flaming concoctions called Bob Marleys are common sights at bars and clubs in Quito’s tourist district. To experience a more authentic and higher proof aguardiente ask around for folks who distill at home. You can pick up a three-liter bottle of this rocket fuel for around five bucks. I can personally attest to aguardiente’s potency that an individual may have two shots, go for a ride on top of a bus, get hit in the head by a tree and not feel a thing. Handle aguardiente with care! You’ve been warned.
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Photo: Andrea Guerra