A distinctive, red-and-white liveried can might have conveyed cool once upon a time in Americana, but nowadays that iconic beverage has become the go-to tipple of the common man. In order to stand out from the quaffable crowd, a drink needs enough swagger, style and substance to turn its liquid peers green with envy.
Agwa de Bolivia ticks all those boxes, so much so it’s apparently jealous of its own panache, glowing a vibrant, violent green. This emerald elixir is a true original; the first Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and, thus far, the only Ã¢â‚¬â€œ coca leaf liqueur in the world. It’s a complex concoction, using a cacophony of 37 various herbs and botanicals to render a flavour that’s surprisingly harmonious.
Sipped neat, Agwa de Bolivia is almost gin-like Ã¢â‚¬â€œ dry, and perfumed; clean and refreshing. Some of that colour comes from the pure coca leaf distillate, enhanced by the addition of similarly-verdant ingredients including green tea, African mint and cucumber. Ginseng and guarana make it extra-stimulating, and the addition of lavender happily avoids the’old lady’s knicker-drawer’ inference.
If you prefer your drink a little more adulterated, try a’Green Goblin’ Ã¢â‚¬â€œ enhancing the liqueur’s colour even more by adding Midori. It’s a sociable old sop, a happy chappy whether mingling with lemonade or cranberry; soda or ginger beer. And adding it to cocktails is a recipe for success, adding a savoury herbal nuance to a multitude of mixtures.
According to the boffins at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, the liqueur boasts a’very complex nose with herby, minty notes, dry tobacco, bay leaf and a hint of eucalyptus; sweet in the mouth with a long-lasting peppery sensation on the tongue and a dry finish’. I’m not sure I get all that, but it certainly finds a happy home in my mouth, my glass, and my drinks cabinet.