Popular South American Drinks You Must Try

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South America is a continent full of interesting food and beverages that express the diversity among the countries and expresses the culture and heritage of those countries. As a traveler visiting South America, you’ll be able to discover a full flavor spectrum in the teas, cocktails, and colas you’ll come across.

Each country in South America has its own unique drinks, though many of them can be found in more than one country, often with a slight difference in the recipe. That’s what makes it so much fun to try all the drinks you can while visiting.

Below is a list of some of the most popular South American drinks you should try on your journey.

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)

If you’ve spent any time in South America, you’ve probably seen advertisements for Inca Kola and not realized it. Inca Kola is often referred to as “the Golden Kola” and once you see the color of it, you won’t have to ask how it got that name.

A British immigrant created Inca Kola in 1935 in Peru with lemon verbena. The taste is sweet yet fruity. You might agree that the flavor resembles that of bubble gum, cream soda, or a mix of the two. It’s incredibly bubbly and might take a few tries before you start liking 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.

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)

Starting out as a French grape in Bordeaux, Malbec is now quite a bit more prevalent in Mendoza, Argentina, where it’s the dominent grape varietal being used to produce amazing wine at a very high elevation. 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.

If you’re a wine lover, Mendoza is a must-visit destination. Not only will you be surrounded by grape vines and some of the best Malbecs in the world, you’re also right in the middle of the beautiful Andes Mountains and the views are incredible.

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.

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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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.

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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