In The Mix: Coca Leaf Liqueur


Our recent rundown of the Top 10 New Things to Put in Your Drink inspired ES’s newest feature, In The Mix, a look at the coolest/craziest/most outlandish new ingredients — alcohols and mixers both — we’ve seen popping up in cocktails.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day we’re kicking it off with an alcohol that’s relatively green to the market and also very, very green.

Agwa de Bolivia starts with coca leaves (yes, those coca leaves) plucked in Bolivia, transported by armed guard and sent to Amsterdam to have their cocaine alkaloids removed (sorry, kids). The coca is then distilled and mixed with stimulants like ginseng and guarana to mimic the “oxygen buzz” Bolivian farmers get when chewing coco leaves at high altitudes.

Our tasting team tried Agwa straight (ugh) and mixed with club soda and lime, which brought out a refreshing, floral flavor everyone liked, although if I experienced an “oxygen buzz” I have to say it wasn’t so wildly different from a good old beer buzz.

Normally I’m a proponent of just drinking Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day, but if you must imbibe something unnaturally green, you could do worse than Agwa. For something crazier than club soda and lime, the Agwa folks have a whole bunch of more creative drink recipes over on their YouTube channel, or try it at bars like New York’s Macondo, where it’s mixed with honey, agave nectar, avocado (!) and lime.