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This definitive guide to Costa Rican drinks and cocktails covers everything from your favorite mixed drinks to beer and popular liquors in Costa Rica.
The only thing that makes a trip to the tropical climate of Costa Rica better is doing it with a cold drink in your hand.
Costa Rica’s drinking age is 18, and you can drink in the streets almost anywhere you go. You can even drink while driving, but there are very stiff laws about driving drunk, so as a tourist it’s best not to even mess with that rule.
Costa Ricans enjoy alcoholic beverages as much as anyone, and especially on the beach you’ll find “ticos” drinking beer while listening to music. Drinking responsibly is not stigmatized in Costa Rica, so feel free to enjoy your drinks in the land of pura vida!
Note: You can find almost all of the below liquors in grocery stores for a fraction of the cost at the bars. Combined with fresh fruit or even the pulps (such as pineapple juice, passion fruit or agua de tamarindo) which you can use to mix your own drinks right at home.
I’ve rounded up the top Costa Rican alcoholic drinks in this post. If you are interested in non-alcoholic drinks, check out our Costa Rican Drink recipes guide. If you are interested in ayahuasca, make sure to check out our ayahuasca in Costa Rica guide. Want microbrews? We’ve got a list of the best breweries in Costa Rica too.
Related post: Best food to try in Costa Rica
Beer is king in Costa Rica. You can go the national beer route or craft beer, which can be harder to find in rural areas. National beers are all produced in the same brewery, the largest in the country. It is called La Florida. Here’s an overview of beer in Costa Rica. Beer is most often paired with traditional Costa Rican food.
Known as “el aguila” because of the prominent eagle on the label. The red and yellow logo has been plastered on almost every t-shirt, beer mug, hat, and keychain in the country, so you won’t have trouble finding it. This is bar far the most sold and consumed beer in the country. You can find it anywhere- it’s the top drink. It’s a light lager akin to Bud Light or Red Stripe from Jamaica. Recently Imperial had a big push to export to the United States, and you can find it in liquor stores across the country.
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Pilsen is Imperial’s little sister. It is the second most popular beer in the country. It is a bit more bitter than Imperial, and has a slightly higher alcohol content. You’ll recognize the bottle by its distinct red and white label.
Bavaria is a slightly more expensive beer with several versions. There is Bavaria Light, Bavaria Gold, and Bavaria Masters. They all taste a bit like Imperial but a little bit lighter.
Rock Ice goes through an ice brewing process and is infused with a lime flavor. It is popular with the younger crowd as it kind of tastes like an alcoholic juice.
You can find breweries around the country that make craft beers, the majority of which are in San Jose.. You will also find canned craft beers in the beer section of liquors stores in larger cities in the country, or in beach towns where the breweries are located. Some popular craft beers include Lake Arenal Brewery (La Fortuna), Manada Coyote (San Ramon), and Papagayo Brewery near Liberia, Guanacaste.
Pair any of these drinks with a Costa Rican appetizer.
Wine is not hugely popular in Costa Rica, but there is sort of underground wine called Contrabando. Contrabando (meaning contraband) is made from the poisonous “reina de la noche” (queen of the night) flower. Once fermented it is no longer poisonous. The wine is very strong, and will make you drunk very quickly. If you go out in the sun while drinking it, or the net day you can experience hallucinations. Needless to say, this is not a very easy wine to find, and it’s definitely not sold in grocery stores.
There are two popular liquors made in Costa Rica- Cacique (known as guaro) and Ron Centenario. Cacique is the trademark liquor in Costa Rica.
Cacique is made at the national brewing plant aptly known as the brand Cacique Guaro. It is located in the northern Central Valley.
Cacique is a sugar cane liquor, a clear spirit similar to those of many other countries in Central America. It is often paired with Fresca soda in bars across the country. It also makes an appearance in the chiliguaro, pura vida, guaro sour and coco loco cocktails. (More on those below.) It is by far the most popular liquor in Costa Rica.
Centenario is also made right in Costa Rica, and is the only rum made there. It comes in several ages- 5 year being the most common.
This rum is often compared to the flor de caña made next door in Nicarauga. While there are lots of different rums throughout Central America and Latin America, Ron Centenario continues to be one of my favorites ever.
Costa Rican Cocktails
If you are heading to any of the beach bars, you’ll want to try these cocktails. Many of the bars and resorts have huge lists of cocktail recipes, and not all are the same versions listed here. What you can be sure of is that there will be fresh fruits and fruit juice in all of your cocktails, due to a large number of different types of Costa Rican fruits in the country.
Related post: Delicious fruits of Costa Rica
Chili Guaro or Chiliguaro
This drink mixes tomato juice, Cacique and a shot of hot sauce. It’s served as a shot most often, and can be requested at almost any bar. Sometimes it comes with a bit of Salsa Lizano (LINK) It’s one of the most popular drinks in the country.
This is a tropical take on a whiskey sour. Again, using the signature Cacique, this drink combines guaro, simple syrup, and a splash of club soda. It’s garnished with lime wedges and oh so delicious! This is a top drinks to try in Costa Rica.
There are as many takes on the pura vida drink as there are ways to use the phrase (meaning pure life). It’s sort of like a Costa Rican rum punch. Of course, it incorporates the top liquor- Cacique. Additional ingredients include pineapple juice, orange juice and lime juice.
Fresh coconut cream (or coconut milk), juiced coconut and Ron Centenario round out one of the best cocktails on the planet, and Costa Rica does it major justice with fresh ingredients. this drink is a good option for someone trying cocktails for the first time.
Need I say more? This is one of the most popular recipes on this website, and garnishing it with fresh mint makes it all the better.
This drink truly is crazy! You’ll use agua de pipa, which is the coconut water inside a green coconut. Break that coconut open, add Cacique guaro and stick a straw in the hole. This might be dubbed the national drink of Costa Rica- even without the guaro it’s delicious!If you would like to talk to me about a customized itinerary or specific Costa Rica travel advice for your family, (zero sales- just advice!) check out my “Ask Christa” page for more information on custom Costa Rica trip planning geared towards families.
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Welcome! I’m Christa, a former high school teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. I love all things Spanish and bi-cultural, (especially travel and food!) and you’ll find my observations on life here. Thanks for stopping by