What the Ticos Drink: Cacique Guaro, Costa Rica

In 1994 I stood in a local bar in the countryside near Grecia.

A weathered old man walked in from a day in the cane fields. A machete hung at his waist and he was barefoot.

He stepped to the bar and put up one finger. The bartender poured him a shot that nearly dribbled over the edge of the glass.

The old man looked at his drink and smiled at me before kicking it back. He wiped his mouth and thanked the bartender, then paid and left.

I asked the bartender what he’d had and he showed me the bottle of Cacique Guaro. I asked for a shot and have longed for another ever since.

Guaro is a 60-proof hard liquor made from sugar cane, and it’s sweet and surprisingly smooth going down. It’s like the aguardiente you’ll find in Columbia and many other Latin American countries.

Ticos take pride in their local products.

Almost everybody drinks Imperial Beer, and many still smoke Ticos over Marlboros. Everybody sips Cacique Guaro once in a while.

Today a South Carolina company, Rockland Enterprise, is importing Guaro straight from la Fabrica Nacional de Licores-Fanal in Costa Rica where it’s been produced for sale since 1853.

The last time I went to Costa Rica I tried to bring home two bottles, both of which I managed to break in a fit of very bad luck before I even got one sip.

I’m eager to find out where I can find a bottle here in the states, and you can bet this time I’ll exercise a little more care in the handling.

If you can hook me up with a bottle, please comment below. I’ll be forever grateful.

Posted by Alex Russell on December 15, 2006 in Food

Comments (21)

  1. john doe
    john doe says:

    Try’s Spec’s Liquor out of Houston, TX

  2. Rick
    Rick says:

    I purchased 3 bottles of Guaro at the ‘duty free’ store at San Jose airport… upon my departure, and JUST before getting on the plane, they handed me my bottles… I thought I had it made ! I had to change planes in Miami upon my return to the States… had to pick up my baggage to go thru immigration, customs etc… no problem… UNTIL…
    I had to go thu security (as if I just got to the airport from home)…. they (security)would not allow me to carry the bottles onboard the next flight… being late on a very busy travel weekend, I had to either throw it away, give it to an arriving passenger, or go buy a bag, take it to the airline counter to get it checked thru, then catch another flight if I was late…. time was up….I had to toss it… WHY allowed on one flight, then not on the next still vexes me !!!! I barely made my connecting flight & others after it were booked so I made the right (?) choice.

    BEWARE of this happening to you, should you travel to Costa Rica !!!!

  3. La Tica Caciquena
    La Tica Caciquena says:

    I’m gonna give a hi5 on this review, and I have several bottles on my possesion too…

  4. Randy
    Randy says:

    I bought Guaro at the “duty Free” store in costa and brought it back to the states and nothing bad happend and i have been enjoying it ever since..cant wait to go back and grab me some more guaro!! pura vida!

  5. cherie byrd
    cherie byrd says:

    Where can I buy Cacique in U.S.? Had some good times with it in Costa Rica!! Please reply

  6. Greg V
    Greg V says:

    I just got back from Costa Rica myself , and brought back a large bottle of Cacique , a souvenir size bottle of Cacique, and a bottle of Kahlua . I bought all these at the Duty Free in SJO airport , and before I connected to my flight to toronto from Charlotte , I put my bottles in my luggage as I was instructed at the Duty Free .

    Gonna open the Cacique tonight for a taste ! Hopefully it’s as good as you’re all saying it is .

  7. Steve
    Steve says:

    you can buy guaro now from ticoshopping.com

    my girlfriend bought me 6 bottles that finally came in today….but be careful because they took about 3 months to get here after breaking in the mail once or twice

  8. Palmares4Life
    Palmares4Life says:

    I spent the entire month of January in Costa Rica and was able to get 4 bottles of Guaro past customs with me! Yeah baby!

  9. lise
    lise says:

    just came back from Guanacaste on sunday. fortunately we knew from past experience to put our alcohol in our luggage after going through customs. I’m happy to see we can order online once our cacique is gone.

  10. BRENT
    BRENT says:


  11. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    Went to Costa Rica this past christmas. Loved it and loved the cacique with lime and fresca. Going back for sure to get more cacique.

  12. rob
    rob says:

    would anyone know were to get a bottle of cacique guaro in calgary alberta . canada

  13. Zach
    Zach says:

    Dude i lived off this stuff while i was living there. Just mix this with some fresca and its perfecto.

  14. barry
    barry says:

    just had another shot. loved it. i will have to back soon to replenish my stock. i have been to cr three times before and did not discover this until the last trip. p.s. the empty bottle is worth almost as much as the full bottle. cr has a big deposit on bottles—–the streets are clean.

  15. melony
    melony says:

    just returned from a trip to Costa Rica . fell in love with the Quaro sour. Been to Bev mor and a couple of other liquor stores but have yet to find it. If anyone knows where I might buy this in San Jose California please let me know.

  16. melony
    melony says:

    just returned from a trip to Costa Rica . fell in love with the Quaro sour. Been to Bev mor and a couple of other liquor stores but have yet to find it. If anyone knows where I might buy this in San Jose California please let me know.

  17. todd
    todd says:

    just check your bottles into your checked in bagagge and no problem..you can bring back 3, 750 ml of liquor per person over 21 to the USA, just ask the duty free people what is allowed, you just can not have the bottles with your carry on for your connecting flight. You have to take the bottles and pack them into your checked bagagge once you get your bag and then recheck the bag for your next flight. Pretty simple to do.

  18. Mike Poynton
    Mike Poynton says:

    Vagablond. Dunno where you get anything “sweet” outa guaro, unless you mix it with something – anything. It’s pure fire straight up – yet delicious – but better with any kind of fruit juice or soft drink. Pura vida!

  19. Costa Rica
    Costa Rica says:

    I can’t believe I found an article on Cacique Guaro, I drink it every Thursday night at my local watering hole when i am back home in San Ramon, Costa Rica. I work in the states, and me and couple of buddy have even talked about importing it, but no plans as of yet.

  20. Vicki
    Vicki says:

    same here, my sister and I went to Costa Rica and brought home a couple of bottles, have tried to find it everywhere….. if you find out how to get it, please let me know a well.

  21. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    When I was in Costa Rica, they had small plastic bottles you could bring it back in. To be safe, I got a couple of those, and then a large one (glass) and wrap it a billion times in my clothes. They all made the trip, safe and sound! And I have seen it once in an Albertan liquor store…but only the one time…

Add Your Comments