If my wife and I were back in the States, there would probably still be boxes of beer arriving on our doorstep every morning and afternoon, like alcoholic clockwork. In Bluefields (on the less-traveled Caribbean side of Nicaragua), you will never get packages at home (theyíll be waiting for you at the post office, should they accidentally arrive at all) and any packages on your porch are probably something you shouldnít open, especially if they slosh around. In other words, forget everything you know about New Glarus, Lost Abbey, Hair of the Dog, Alesmith, Pizza Port, sour ales and lambic.
Even the tears on your pillow, youíll notice, taste worse here.
But there are some slight condolences, thankfully the largest of which is not the fact that ToŮa is, after some careful and independently validated studies, the best cerveza available this side of Managua. God help us. Itís fresher and labeled differently than the U.S. import version, itís one of the two major imbibing staples in Bluefields (the other being 375mL bottles of light FdC, served simply with ice and lime), and itís also as cheap or cheaper (13-20 cords, $0.65-1) than your other options: Victoria, Victoria Frost (shiver), Premium (it isnít), Brava Beats (huh?), and the imported monstrosities of Heineken and Smirnoff Ice, which are twice as expensive as the locals. There is, legend has it, a single Irish pub back in Managua serving Guinness at inflated prices, and you will contemplate daytrips.
Youíll see passion fruit as a fermentable. Youíll consider purchasing that bottle of Nica moonshine (in a used soda bottle) youíve been eyeing up.
But!, there is goodness to be found. Even the worst rums here, CaŮita and Plata, are suitable for shots and defusing with large quantities of citrus. At 22-30 cords ($1.10-1.50) for a half-bottle, youíll be a cheap date. There are, if you look hard enough and have money, a few of those most ubiquitous liquors here: Beefeater and Tanqueray (but rarely tonic), Cuervo, Baileys, low-end Johnny Walker, Jack, etc., at shot prices of about 50 cords ($2.50) apiece. Poor generics range from white wine to cognac.
What you really want, however, what you honestly and truly and at the very core of your two-thirds-liquid existence hope for, is the sweet sweet Flor de CaŮa. The cheapest full bottles of blanco (aged 4 years, available regular and extra dry) will set you back about 100 cords downtown ($5). The regular blanco and a 7-year old dark version are available almost everywhere, similarly priced. Youíll find dusty bottles of versions youíve never heard of as you shop downtown. Remember to bring an empty with you, unlike one forgetful gringo couple, or youíll end up paying a bottle deposit each time.
Weíve been everywhere for the most part (every club, which doesnít take long in Bluefields, bars on hills, bars in pulperias, bars on rooftops), and the best place to drink is also the most misplaced. Say hello to the gentleman manning the door (seriously, say hello, that isnīt a toy gun). Oasis Casino, near the municipal wharf, is basically the only place around here youíll ever even see the Flor de CaŮa 21 ($5) or, for that thrifty-but-elegant Caribbean drug smuggler in your life, the 18 ($2.50), probably the best drink in town.