Not only does Argentina take great pride in its cuisine, it also produces some of the tastiest beverages! Argentina drinks vary from region to region and represent the culture and lifestyle in Argentina. Some Argentina drinks are perfect for spending a relaxing evening with family and others are for a night out on the town with friends. Whatever you decide to sip on, you won’t regret it. Here are the top 5 most famous Argentina drinks (in no particular order!):
- Fernet and Coke
Fernet is an Italian digestivo that many consider the national liquor of Argentina. Italian immigrants brought Fernet to Argentina around the turn of the 20th century. It is an amaro, or bitter drink, that traditionally helps with digestion after meals. The highest consumption of Fernet is in Argentina, notably in Buenos Aires and Cordoba. Fernet is traditionally drunk mixed with Coca-Cola over ice, called a “Fernet con coca”. It should generally be 30% Fernet and 70% Coke. Some alternatives are Fernet and grapefruit juice or Fernet and coffee. Expect to see Fernet at every social gathering, such as asados, birthday parties, house parties, bars, and even family dinners.
The Argentina mate tea originated in northern Argentina by the Guarani indigenous culture. Mate has natural caffeine that helps keep you awake while quenching thirst and suppressing your appetite. The tea leaf is quite strong, so don’t be surprised if the first time you drink it, you have endless energy! Mate is normally drank in groups or at least one other person, although one can drink it alone. One person is in charge of serving and pouring the tea, while the rest take turns sipping and passing it back to the leader. Yerba tea leafs are placed into the gourd and hot water is poured from the thermos. The metal straw, called a bombilla, has special holes on the bottom that act as a filter, so that only the liquid tea enters the mouth and not the leafy bits. This tradition has created a mate culture all over Argentina, where there is never a wrong moment to drink a mate. Enjoy mate during merienda afternoon snacks, while at the office, or after a big lunch. Try to avoid it a night unless you are a veteran mate drinker!
- Cafe con Leche
Cafe con Leche translates as “coffee with milk” and is the most popular order for breakfast coffee. Cafe con leche consists of 50% espresso and 50% steamed milk in a large mug. While cafe con leche is normally enjoyed at breakfast time, afternoon coffee selections are normally less decadent, like a cortado served in a smaller mug with less milk. Many times, cafés have a breakfast special that includes cafe con leche, a cup of orange juice, and 3 medialunas, traditional Argentine pastries that resemble croissants.
- Malbec Wine
Malbec is the flagship Argentine wine. Acceptable at any occasion, always delicious, and readily available, the rich red wine is arguably the most famous of Argentina drinks. It is flavorful and robust, yet oh so easy to drink. The majority of Malbec grapes are grown in Mendoza, but you can find it in other regions like Cafayate and Patagonia. Malbec is best served with steaks and pastas. During summertime, many people add soda water to make the wine more like a spritzer to be paired with lighter fare.
If you are looking for something sweet, try the Argentine version of hot chocolate. If you are in Buenos Aires, visit one of the old style cafeterias (coffeeshops) on Avenida Corrientes and ask for a submarino. You will be delivered a glass of warm milk with an entire chocolate bar either on the side or melting inside – delicious! If you want to try to make it at home, it’s very simple. Heat up milk (whole or reduced fat) until right before a boil, and make sure you use a quality bar of chocolate. The Argentine favorite is El Alguila chocolate that comes in a light pink wrapper. Pour the milk into a mug, drop half of the chocolate bar in, stir and enjoy!