If you’re looking for a bubbly beverage here in ticolandia, don’t ask for a cola. In Costa Rica, a tail—whether on an animal or a ponytail in the hair—is called a cola (sounds just like the cola you drink).
Perhaps you could order a soda? Not here. A small restaurant that serves traditional, inexpensive Costa Rican food is called a soda (yep, sounds just like the soda you drink). These little sodas are all over the place, even in remote areas of the country where one wonders how the soda gets its supplies and who is eating there. Anything but fancy, sodas often are sometimes just simple support structures with tin roofs or tarps overhead, as you can see was the case at Soda El Mango where we had lunch on a Manuel Antonio beach.
Sodas serve comida típica—typical/traditional tico food—which relies on local agriculture and cultural tradition. These very modest eateries sometimes don’t even offer menus to diners since it’s known they serve native dishes.
Our favorite drinks are the refrescos—sweet, satisfying concoctions made of liquefied, fresh fruit blended with either water or milk. These traditional drinks are available in loads of flavors such as watermelon, mango, strawberry, blackberry, tamarind, passion fruit, guanabana, and cas. Our favorites are watermelon and strawberry.
If you’re brave enough to try something that really packs a punch, sip a bit of guaro, the national liquor of Costa Rica made from distilled sugar cane.To minimize production of bootlegged guaro, the tico government nationalized the manufacturing of the stuff with the Fabrica Nacional de Licores-Fanal, offering Cacique, the only legal brand of guaro, since the mid 1800s. Just don’t become a guaro vaquero (guaro cowboy)—someone who’s had too much too drink and acts like an obnoxious fool!