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Dominican Republic
Washing it Down: Beverages
Rum

Rum production in the Caribbean is attributed to the African colonists who brought sugar cane with them to make crystallized sugar and molasses. They noticed, however, that the molasses began to ferment when left in the hot Caribbean sun and could be mixed with water to create what became known as rum.

During the 1700s, sugar cane plantations and their by-products contributed to a booming social and economic climate which eventually drew the attention of the DR's three rum brand founders. In the mid-to-late 1800's Don Andres Brugal Montaner, Don Erasmo Bermudez and Julian Barcelo started experimenting with their own personal refining processes. Today, the Brugal, Bermúdez, and Barcelo brands of rum have become popular across the globe and are considered some of the world's best. Unlike that of Jamaica and Barbados, Dominican rum is produced through a more natural process of distillation. Aging is often done in special American white oak kegs, thus creating a sweet, hearty blend.

Bermudez , the eldest of the Dominican rum distilleries, was established in 1852. Its first formula, Bitter Panacea, remains famous. Distilling in Santo Domingo, Bermudez boasts the Dominican's oldest aging cellar.

Brugal , established in 1888, is located just east of Puerto Plata and produces more than one and a half million liters of white and dark rum each year. Considered the most popular distiller, Brugal offers affordable bottles of rum for sale at its bottling plant and gives guests a free rum drink. Tours are offered Monday through Friday and admission is free.

Barcelo , established in Santo Domingo in 1930, is said to be best-liked by locals. The plant manufactures 40 thousand liters of rum per day.

After a visit to a Dominican Republic rum distillery, guests enjoy making a Cuba Libre, or "rum and coke" for friends and family back home.

Beer
Brewed in Santo Domingo, Presidente is the DR's most popular beer and is served at just about every establishment in the country. As part of a marketing agreement designed by the company to maximize its consumption, Presidente is the only beer offered for sale at convenience and liquor stores in some areas.

It is nearly impossible to find the same Presidente brew back in the states. Best when served ice-cold (locals will only take it that way), it's a light-tasting pilsner with six percent alcohol, opposed to the United States' version which contains only five percent (never comparing in taste). Therefore, Presidente beer is a popular souvenir for tourists.

Mamajuana
A "miracle" potion developed in the DR, Mamajuana is a concoction of various herbs, roots, leaves and bark that is mixed with rum, gin, wine, honey and lemon to cure everything from impotency to the stomach flu. If the taste can be tolerated, Mamajuana is used to promote overall good health, sexuality and vitality. Only a handful of families still brew the mixture.

Coffee
Travelers to the Caribbean know that the region is among the best in the world for strong-bodied specialty coffees. The DR is no exception. Its position in the tropics, rainfall levels, and fertile soil make it an ideal location for growing organic coffee beans that provide great taste and a rich aroma. The coffee trade in the DR dates back over 250 years, giving its growers a deep-rooted tradition to continue.

The DR has more than 60,000 growers who together export nearly one million bags of coffee per year, although most of their crop is kept for domestic use. DR coffee, commonly referred to as "Santo Domingo," is grown in six different regions on the island: Azua, Bani, Cibao, Barahona, Juncalito and Ocoa. Beans from the higher altitudes are thought to be richer and have a higher acidity than low-grown coffees that tend to be the opposite. Dominican coffee is 100 percent Arabica and varieties include: nuevo mondo, catuai, caturra and bourbon. While in the DR, coffee is typically served black in an espresso cup with a large pour of sugar.

 

 

 
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