Food & Drink

Myrtle Beach mixology columnist picks his World Cup libations nation by nation

It seems that the masses in Myrtle Beach have gone World Cup crazy. Every four years this tends to happen due to the media and the magnitude on an international level. Soccer is one of the few sports actively played in nearly every country at the competitive level. When you couple that with some good old fashioned patriotism, you have some of the best fan moments of any sporting event that exists.

Just as competitive as the sport, are the drinks that go with the sport. Close ties to the pubs of Europe, Ireland and everywhere else in the world, soccer is a bar sport. One where there is chanting, cheering, taunting and, of course, drinking. Lots of drinking.

Here’s your drinking companion for cheering on the various nations still left in the cup competition.

Brazil - The host of the World Cup has a rich tradition in cocktails. Cachaça is the main component in the national drink, the caipirinha, which combines the liquor with sugar and lime. Distilled from sugarcane juice, Cachaça will be everywhere during the games.

If you want the real deal Rioz Brazillian Steakhouse (2920 Hollywood Dr., Myrtle Beach) is the place to get your table side caipirinha made with real Cachaça. Sit at the bar and I’m sure they will have the game on. If you want to try it in your home bar, Owens Liquors (8000 N. Kings Hwy., Myrtle Beach) has three labels available. Most high-end retail spirits stores will carry the Americanized Leblon Cachaça.

Colombia - Aguardiente is a sugar-based liquor with strong anise flavors. Translated, loosely, to mean “fire water”, there is no hiding the emotions you will have while enjoying, or tolerating, this drink. Described as a “drink that may make you want to punch someone in the face” by The Village Voice, Aguardiente is rarely in a cocktail and, most commonly, served neat.

Owens Liquors has a single producer of Aguardiente represented in its inventory called Aguardiente Antioqueño. I have yet to find a local restaurant or bar that offers a pour of the “fire water,” but maybe that is for the best.

Netherlands - If you’d like the Netherlands to move on to the semi-finals, genever is your drink. While it is hard to find in most markets these days, it is considered the grandfather of all gin. Your favorite botanical combination and a tonic will represent nicely. Genever was made as medicine from the juniper berry much in same way that our popular gins are made today.

You may have to stick with the next-best-thing for the Netherlands fans out there. Every place on the beach will have gin. Some will have a nice little selection to choose from. Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin is made in the Netherlands and will be your most regionally conscious choice. Available at Owens Liquors..

Costa Rica - Guaro is derived from sugar and resembles vodka in flavor profiles. Guaro is slightly lower in alcohol content and, traditionally, comes in plastic bottles. Once considered “poor man’s vodka,” Guaro has been adopted as a Costa Rican culture icon and tradition.

I have not seen Guaro on the shelves in Myrtle Beach, but there are plenty of substitutions. Vodka is the natural choice and there is no shortage of vodka in our town. If that does not work for you, try a light rum instead.

France - Red wine, and wine as we know it, was born in France. The original snobbery was created in France’s wine growing regions. They have taught and introduced the methods for viticulture to every region around the globe. Not all wine from France is the best. However, some of the best wine on the planet is made there and the impact they have had on the wine world is undeniable.

To get a good taste of what France is capable of, enjoy a Bordeaux or something from the Rhone regions. Both are considered top red wine producing regions in France. Any wine shop on the beach will have bottles from both regions.

Germany - Lager could be argued as the most impressive contribution to alcohol production since the beginning of time. Most American beers have taken flight from the process of making lager. Germany began the cold fermenting and conditioning process and it is one that is shaped our palates for cold beer since.

There is no denying that if German beer is what you crave, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (3060 Howard Ave., Myrtle Beach) is the place to go. From the Golden Export, a refreshing lager, to the Schwarzbier, a dark lager with deep flavors, Gordon Biersch makes and serves the best German beer around.

Argentina - Malbec was declared the national drink of Argentina in 2010. This grape was originally grown in France and introduced into Argentina in the mid 19th Century. The declining growth in France and the booming growth in Argentina have shifted ownership of this grape and its wine. Highly tannic, robust and very cost efficient, Malbec has become a darling on the wine world.

In Myrtle Beach, nearly everywhere has a Malbec. The price, flavor and presentation all favor what we love in a bottle of wine.