Quilmes, etc.

May 21st 2010: Travel

(final chapter of the Guilty Pleasure Tales)

Compared to the other Argentinean vices, their smoking, their caffeine dependency, and their sweet tooth, this last one, alcohol, is the one they seem to indulge the least in. Or at least they don’t drive it to an extreme the way they seem to push the other ones. Sure, just like in the rest of the world, alcohol is everywhere and happily consumed. But unlike the inhabitants of other countries I have visited, Argentineans don’t seem to like the feeling of losing control, getting way too drunk to find your way home. Instead they prefer to rely on yet more caffeine to make sure the party goes on until sunrise. As a result, beer and wine and cocktails are consumed in more or less “healthy” moderations.

The local wine is cheap and excellent. I grew particularly fond of Malbec, a local red wine grape similar to Merlot that turned out to be just right, not too sweet, not too dry. Most of the Argentinean wine is produced in the area around the city of Mendoza and because it is produced locally, the prices are outrageously low. A good bottle of wine, of the quality you would expect to pay maybe $60+ in the US, usually costs no more than 50 pesos ($12) and is readily available in every supermarket.

As flavorful as the wine is, as bland is the beer. Similarly to many other countries, Argentina has settled for the German/Dutch/Belgian inspired lager-like beers along the lines of Becks, Heineken, and Stella. The local equivalent, Quilmes, is available in every bar, restaurant, and cafe, and usually comes in generous one liter bottles. Bound by my German heritage and beer quality standards, I can only give these beers a ‘B’ grade: good enough for most occasions, but not particularly interesting in any way. A safe choice.

Finally, the mixed drinks: I haven’t really experimented much here, the wine and the beer did the job sufficiently, but from what I can tell you have your typical selections of liquors and standard get-in-any-bar-in-the-world cocktails. With the exception that Fernet is very popular and a mix called “Speed and Vodka” is the party pick-me-up, Speed being the local bubble-gum flavored energy drink.

If you come to Buenos Aires to enjoy the relaxed, good life, you will probably end up like me, developing a happy morning-coffee and evening-wine-or-beer habit, only moderately indulging in the other prevalent pleasures. But however you mix and match these vices to your gusto, chances are that your life here will be good.

Posted in Travel by Ernst Bruening on May 21st, 2010 at 7:53 pm.

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