Popular South American Drinks You Must Try

Pisco Sours
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South America is a continent full of interesting foods, and the beverages to go along with it. From teas to colas and all kinds of exotic and colorful cocktails, the flavor spectrum tickles and delights your palate for a sensation unlike what we get in the North. As much diversity as there is among the countries in South America, you will also find in these popular South American drinks. Each country has its own unique drinks, though many of them can be found in more than one country. Read on to find South American drinks that you really must try on your travels.

Yerba Matte Tea

Yerba Mate, a drink especially popular in Paraguay
Yerba Mate, a drink especially popular in Paraguay

This South American beverage hails from the celebrated holly tree in the rain forests of South America. It’s said to have the strength of coffee along with the healthful benefits of tea, plus the whimsical effects of chocolate all in one. In fact, the Yerba Matte benefits are said to be substantial. It naturally gives you energy and nutrition with a taste that’s unforgettable. While it’s a popular drink of choice in Paraguay and Uruguay — you’ll often see people toting it around in a gourd-shaped container with a metal straw — this tea is also popular in Argentina, some parts of Brazil, Bolivia, and southern Chile.

Inca Kola

Inca Kola
Inca Kola (image via Flickr by Arnold Gatilao)

You’ve probably seen advertisements for it and not realized it. Inca Kola is often referred to as “the Golden Kola.” A British immigrant created it in 1935 in Peru with lemon verbena. The taste is sweet yet fruity. When Americans taste it though, they’ll often find the flavor resembles that of bubble gum or even cream soda, while many will say it’s a mix between the two tastes. It’s incredibly bubbly and might take a few tries before you come to adore it.


Quilmes Beer
Quilmes Beer (image via Flickr by rosius)

This iconic beer from Argentina has been around since 1888. By the 1920s, it was the most popular beer in the capital of Buenos Aires. Quilmes is responsible for the majority of the market share of beer in Argentina. If you’re a fan of soccer (or football as it’s called there) you probably recognize the logo from the national team. The delicate and creamy taste is a must for beer lovers around the globe.


Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour (image by Savored Sips)

Pisco is a popular South American liquor found in Chile and Peru. It’s used to make the national drink of both of these countries, called the Pisco Sour, that’s made with pisco, lime juice, simple syrup and egg whites. There is a bit of a rivalry between Chile and Peru over who made the first pisco sour. Both have their stories. And, before you get into a discussion about it with a local, you should also know that there are two different liquors – a Chilean Pisco and a Peruvian Pisco. Both are made from distilled fermented grapes, turning it into a high-octane spirit. The fruity flavors from locally grown produce made it a fast favorite with the locals.

Argentina Malbec

Argentina Malbecs
Argentina Malbecs (photo by Savored Sips)

Malbec, which is actually the name of the red grape, was very popular in France, however Argentina has given this grape more room to grow. It wasn’t always native there though, having arrived sometime in the mid 19th century. They differ from the malbec grapes in France because they are smaller and in tighter clusters. Malbec wines from Argentina have a deep red color and feature an intense fruit flavor coupled with a texture that’s pure velvet on the palate.

Fernet & Coke

Frenet & Coke
Frenet & Coke (image via Flickr by Beatrice Murch)

In America, we have rum and Coke. In Argentina, they have Fernet and Coke. Fernet is complex and a bit mysterious. A liqueur made with a lot of herbs and spices, it’s ideal for conjuring up clever cocktails. Frenet originates in Italy, but was introduced to Argentina by the Italians many years ago. It’s now an incredibly popular drink in Argentina, where they consume almost 3 million liters per year. It’s a bitter, aromatic spirit, so it goes best with flavors that will subdue and mask the bitterness. Make sure you try a South American cocktail with Frenet while in Argentina.

Find and try these popular South American drinks on your next trip to South America.
Find and try these popular South American drinks on your next trip to South America.

In Conclusion

If you’re in South America and find yourself wondering what to drink, you know what you have to do! Order a few of these popular South American drinks and see what they’re like for yourself. We think you’ll agree that they’re worth traveling for.

Have you tried one of these drinks, or other popular South American drinks that you think we should have included? Let us know!

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2 thoughts on “Popular South American Drinks You Must Try

  1. Michelle | michwanderlust says:

    Inca Kola is definitely not for me! It tastes so artificial. In Ecuador popular drinks are canelazo (a sweet drink made with cinnamon and sugar, you can have it with alcohol or not) and puro (fermented sugarcane.. Very strong, like vodka). The names vary in different regions though. Hope you get to try them if you ever visit Ecuador!

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