It’s green, it gives you a buzz and is self-described “weird but nice.” It’s not absinthe, but made out of Coca leaves and “escorted from Bolivia under armed guards.” Evo Morales‘ guards? We don’t know. But yes, my friends, it’s Agwa, the “world’s only coca leaf liqueur,” and it’s taking over the US (or trying to).
Here at Remezcla we were pleasantly surprised, although somewhat skeptical, by the arrival of a bottle of green Agwa. It didn’t arrive alone: a Bolivian hat (made in Peru), a wreath made of fake coca leaves and a flashy marketing card came with. Como buenos chicos que somos, we didn’t waste a minute before putting it to the test, even if it wasn’t even noon.
The coca is from Bolivia, but Agwa is supposedly “distilled” and “hand-crafted” in Amsterdam. Marketed simultaneously as a fountain of good health (Coca leaves have more calcium than milk and more protein than meat), all the while its makers hint at the legal boundaries of drinking a 60-proof liqueur made of the same substance as the all too forbidden cocaine.
“This tastes like NyQuil, just more powerful” Katro joked. Indeed, the green liquer is remarkably sweet, and doesn’t burn nearly as much as vodka. It did, however, leave a warm sensation all down our throats, and a somewhat disturbing and persistent aftertaste. It’s definitely the kind of drink that gives you el ratón del siglo; you know, that one liquor you can never drink again after “that time.”
Though we were left waiting for “the oxygen buzz” Agwua is supposed to leave you with, we must admit some of the cocktails the company suggests don’t sound half bad. Particularly, the “Agwau Chica Bomba,” i.e. a mojito with a splash of Agwa, does not make us vomit in our mouths, and Agwa with lime and 7Up could actually get a party started at the Remezcla offices. That said, after the one sip everyone was forced to try, the Agwa bottle has remained untouched on our conference table.
Everyone is eying it cautiously, scared they’ll be offered another shot, or worse, even, the rest of the bottle to take home.