Aguardiente Antioqueño: What’s The Big Deal?


TLDR? Aguardiente is the national drink of Colombia and is made out of sugar cane.

One of the first things any self-respecting Colombian will do after you touch down is to invite you out for a cup of guaro

Guaro, the popular nickname for Aguardiente, is the national drink of Colombia and is a must-try if you’re visiting the country. 

On top of that, one particularly famous (and delicious) brand of aguardiente is made right here in Antioquia!

So, if you’re looking to impress your Colombian friends, you’ve got to get to know guaro. Let’s take a look at what Aguardiente Antioqueña is, how it’s made, and more. 

What Is Aguardiente, Anyway?

Aguardiente Antioqueño

Aguardiente loosely translates to firewater and is a type of alcohol that’s made out of sugar cane and anise. 

Considering the fact that sugar cane is one of Colombia’s main crops, it’s no surprise that the citizens have turned it into their favorite drink, too. 

Aguardiente isn’t just found in Colombia, however. 

You can actually find it scattered across South and Central America. Still, we’d argue that if you want the true foodie experience you’ve got to try it here in Colombia. 

Just be warned – aguardiente isn’t for the faint of heart. 

This beverage can contain anywhere from 29% alcohol to a whopping 60% ABV. Make sure to bring a designated driver with you if you’ll be partaking in this drink.

What Does Aguardiente Taste Like?

Okay, enough of the shop talk. Let’s talk about the flavor!

Aguardiente, despite being made out of sugar cane, isn’t sweet. Its primary flavor is that of black licorice, thanks to the anise in it. 

Despite the fact that it’s not as sweet as some other liquors, aguardiente is smooth and creamy. It has a crisp finish, that leaves your palette clean (and ready for another shot).

Aguardiente pairs well with a number of different foods, including grilled meat and cheese. 

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, try pairing it with tropical fruits or fried bread. 

One thing you should be aware of is that it’s practically blasphemy to order aguardiente with a mixer. 

You’ll usually drink it as a straight shot, but you can follow it with fresh fruits or any other flavors that mesh well with the liquor. 

A traditional chaser? Beer. 

Just be prepared for a wild night if you go this route!

Nutritional Information

Whenever I find a new cocktail or liquor, my first question is always how many calories the drink contains. 

I mean, it’s one thing to try a shot here and there, but if you’re going out for the night, all those calories can add up!

The good news is that as a clear liquor, Aguardiente is pretty low-calorie.

There are actually just 85 calories in a 1-ounce shot of aguardiente (about 130 calories in a generous 1.5-ounce pour). That’s really not bad at all if you think about it!

And, if you want to cut calories even further, opt for Aguardiente Sin Azucar. This sugar-free version of the drink only contains 49 calories.

How Augardiente Stacks Up

Okay, you’ve got the nutritional facts. But what does that look like when compared to other liquors?

Here’s a breakdown of the calories you’ll find in other popular liquors: 

  • Rum: 65 calories
  • Whiskey: 71 calories
  • Vodka: 65 calories
  • Gin: 75 calories

Aguardiente from Other Regions

Okay, so we’re mostly talking about Aguardiente Antioqueño. But let’s pause for a second. 

This is far from the only type of aguardiente you’ll find in Colombia. In fact, just about every department in the country has its own brand of aguardiente (if not more than one). 

The other brands you’ll find include: 

  • Anisado: made in Magdalena
  • Blanco del Valle: made in Valle del Cauca
  • Caucano: made in Cauca
  • Cristal: made in Caldas
  • Cristal Tapa Roja: made in Tolima
  • Coco Anís: made in Atlántico
  • Doble Anís: made in Huila
  • ICL Puro Colombia: made in Valle del Cauca
  • Líder: made in Boyacá
  • Llanero: made in Meta
  • Néctar: made in Cundinamarca
  • Nariño: made in Nariño
  • Platino: made in Chocó
  • Tres Esquinas: made in Bolívar

As you can see, there are quite a few types of aguardiente out there. However, we’ll always stand by our Aguardiente Antiqueño.

What’s the Best Bottle of Aguardiente Antioqueño?

Aguardiente Antioqueño and fruits

If you want to base it on the statistics, you’d have to go with Tapa Rojo Antioqueño. This is Colombia’s top-selling aguardiente and is a pretty good representation of what the liquor should taste like. 

Tapa Rojo contains 29% alcohol, so it’s pretty strong stuff. However, it’s a bit smoother than some of the other brands you’ll find out there. 

For those (like me) who prefer to keep the calories to a minimum, it might be worth investing in Tapa Azul. Tapa Azul contains the same alcohol content, but none of the sugar. 

The third variety that you can try is Tapa Verde. This is a much smoother variety of aguardiente with a lower alcohol content (24%). 

If you’re looking for a drink where you can really taste the flavor, this is a good bottle to pick up.

Flavored Aguardiente

Aside from the standard, anise-flavored aguardiente there are also other options you can check out. A few flavors you might find include: 

  • Grape
  • Pear
  • Apple
  • Plum
  • Cherry
  • Malt
  • Rowanberry
  • Lulo

Where to Find Aguardiente in Medellin

If we’ve got your mouth watering for some aguardiente, there are plenty of places around the city where you can try it. 

Pretty much any bar you walk into will have aguardiente on the drinks menu, although we can’t guarantee what brand it will be. 

Plus, you can always pick it up at your local supermarket. A bottle of Aguardiente Antioqueño is super affordable, costing between 36.000 COP ($10 USD) and 57.000 COP ($15 USD). 

Take a Sip of Aguardiente Antioqueño

A shot of Aguardiente Antioqueño makes for smooth sipping. It’s the ideal drink for anyone who’s wanting to enjoy a Colombian rumba or just wanting to try some true Colombian spirits. 

My advice?

Make taking a shot of aguardiente a priority while in Medellín.

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