La Paz Feature
Beverages of Bolivia
Even if you're just after a tipple, sipping a glass of wine or having a cool one at high altitude can have a cost. Nonetheless, once you are acclimatized, there are some interesting beverages to sample.
Each major city still has its own brewery, generally founded by Germans who emigrated here at the same time as they came to the United States, and microbreweries have started to pop up. There's also the CBN, the national beer company. As well as their standard brew, Paceña in La Paz often has special labels, which are always worth trying. Sureña in Sucre is a good bet. Avoid the Carnival beer, Bock—it has more alcohol than Carnival spirit.
For something a little different, try singani, the local liquor. It's best in the potent pisco sour made with lime juice or the slightly smoother chuflay, made with ginger ale. Chicha is a grain alcohol locals concoct by chewing maize, spitting out the resulting mash, adding water, and allowing the mixture to ferment. The sweet, rather cloudy result is drunk mainly in the lowland valleys in and around Cochabamba, and tastes a lot better than it sounds, once you forget how it's made.
Tarija, in the Andean foothills near the Argentine border, is Bolivia's wine-growing area. Grapes grow here at 2,000 meters above sea level and the wines have been produced since the early 17th century. The major producers are La Concepcion and Kohlberg, although you can also buy good unlabeled wines in the bodegas. Tarija's Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon have won international medals.
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