What is turkey dinner without a bottle of smooth, golden whiskey to accompany the slowly roasted bird, lightly baked stuffing and delicately boiled cranberry sauce?
If your family is anything like my all-Irish clan, then they need a few alcoholic bevvies to wash down the feast.
Luckily, getting into the spirits in Costa Rica isn’t difficult. Most major supermarkets carry the more popular brands of whiskey, vodka, rum, tequila and flavored liqueurs.
Wal-Mart-owned Más x Menos (www.masxmenos.co.cr) offers all the basics at reasonable prices. A bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 runs about ¢19,000 ($33) for those who prefer some southern comfort and a little burn in the throat with their meals. Or keep on walking down the liquor aisle and grab a bottle of Johnny WalkerRed Label for ¢16,000 ($28). Sweet Baileys Irish Cream can be found on special for the holiday season, with a 750-millileter bottle reduced to ¢10,000 ($17); sample the mint and caramel flavors if you tire of the original.
On the wine shelf, you generally won’t find anything high-end, but the mostly Chilean and Argentine standbys get the job done at prices between ¢4,000 and ¢10,000 ($7 to $17).
Also part of the Wal-Mart empire, and offering more economy, Hipermás (www.hipermas.com) megastores have fairly good selections and often offer deals on wine and liquor.
For a wider selection of spirits, try the higher-end Auto Mercado (www.automercado.co.cr) supermarkets. Prices are roughly comparable to those at Más x Menos, and more imports tend to be offered here, including some rare German and Belgian beers, wines from around the world and good ol’ Jameson Irish Whiskey.
Muñoz y Nanne supermarket in the eastern San José suburb of San Pedro (2253-4646, www.munozynanne.com) has one of the more impressive supermarket wine collections.
Toward the back of the store, you’ll find an entire room dedicated to foreign wines, or step outside and check the shelf for bargains. Recently, several Spanish and Australian wines were featured in two-for-one or three-for-two specials.
On the west side of town, Saretto supermarket in Escazú can satisfy all palates and budgets with a whole aisle and a half of wines from all over the world. An excellent selection of liquors and liqueurs is also offered here.
Those who like to lift their pinkies while they sip might try some of the following specialty stores carrying fine wines and fancy liquors.
Wine and liquor distributor HÅ&COM Bebidas del Mundo, formerly Holtermann & Compañía (www.holtermann.co.cr), sells a vast range of spirits from its locations in the northern San José district of Tibás (2297-1005) and in Liberia, capital of the northwestern Guanacaste province (2668-1248).
The cheapest champagne in the house is a bottle of brut priced at ¢27,000 (about $47). Prices fly up to ¢144,000 ($248) for a bottle of France’s Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame.
You’ll also find a wide variety of wines from a dozen countries, including bottles from California’s NapaValley. Prices range from ¢6,000 ($10) to over ¢100,000 ($172).
The company also carries an assortment of vodka – original and flavored – as well as whisky, rum, brandy and liqueurs. The esteemed Johnny Walker Blue Label is on sale here for ¢116,000 ($200), as is the Canadian favorite Crown Royal for a reasonable ¢15,000 ($26).
At Vinum La Enoteca in Escazú (2289-5917), you can search for wine by region and sample and purchase the wine of the month, offered at a 10 percent discount. Featured last month was an Argentine Achaval Ferrer malbec, on sale for ¢13,900 ($24).
Sort through a variety of other wines, from chardonnays to cabernets, starting at about ¢5,000 ($8.60), or check out the store’s price guide online at www.vinumlaenoteca.com.
Finally, if you’re looking for an inexpensive Tico thanksgiving cocktail option, pick up a bottle of Cacique (Costa Rican sugarcane liquor) for about ¢4,500 ($8) at your neighborhood minisúper. Mix it with ginger ale, about half and half, for a good ol’ Ticostyle guaro con gin.