Introducing: AGWA de Bolivia


AGWA de Bolivia banner
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of press releases from different companies running contests or touting new or improved alcohols and I’m thrilled to be able to share then with you guys. Don’t worry, though, I won’t be turning this into an announcement list for beverage distributors–we’re going to be pretty choosy about what makes it through the gate.

One bit of news that did catch my eye was about the new liqueur, AGWA de Bolivia. Not going to lie, what made me sit up and take notice was the fact that this liqueur is distilled from Coca leaves.

Yes, really, those coca leaves.

A few years back I picked up a book that looked interesting, mostly because I misread the title as I wandered through the bookstore. What I though was about Native American medicine (thinking medicine wheel or trail of tears sort of thing) turned out to be about alternative/natural medicines among various ancient cultures spread out around the world. And while the author did spend quite a bit of time searching for and describing the potential of a Viagra-substitute, the book was an interesting read and featured a bit about the importance of coca to the Peruvian culture.

And, of course, being from the South we all know about coca being part of the original Coca-Cola.

But back to the topic of the day! AGWA de Bolivia is a coca leaf liqueur (along with over 30 other herbs) but before anything else happens, the leaves are decocainized. I didn’t know that was a process, either, but I suppose it’s like decaffeinating coffee beans or tea leaves. And, really, it’s not like it’d be allowed in this country if it were truly laced with cocaine, right?

The same folks who kindly offered to send me a sample of this new liqueur also included a few starter recipes to try it out.

Trio of Agwa de Bolivia applications

The 3 AGWA-migos!

First I tried the Bolivian Kiss–it’s a simple 1-2 punch of bite the lime, take the shot. Only I don’t really see the point in shooting alcohol: it want to taste what I’m drinking, not get drunk. So the shot? Not so much. But the flavor combination of the lime and the AGWA was quite refreshing. On the agwabuzz website they also have a recipe for the AGWA Fresca and I’ll bet it’s delicious with the lime and soda water.

Next up was the Red Devil: AGWA and Cranberry. Todd and I both found this one to be surprisingly good. I mean, cranberry gets mixed with a lot of different alcohols and does pretty well, but on it’s own the juice can be a little thin, a little sharp, and very tart. It’s cranberry, after all. But add about an ounce of AGWA? Totally different story! The AGWA doesn’t assert itself over the cranberry, it blends together and creates this warm, soft, round flavor and feel–even on the rocks. This one we will be trying again.

Finally it was time to test the recipe that really made me curious from the original information: the Green Angel. It has two ingredients I dearly love–gin and limoncello–so I knew we had to give it a whirl.

The Green Angel

4 large Basil leaves
1/2 oz Limoncello
1 1/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz AGWA de Bolivia
3/4 oz Apple juice
Lime and Vanilla sugar for garnish

In the bottom of a shaker, bruise the basil leaves into the limoncello with a muddler. Fill the mixing glass half-full of ice and stir to coat with the limoncello. Strain off the limoncello and add the gin, AGWA de Bolivia and apple juice to the mixing glass. Shake like your attempting lift off and strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with vanilla sugar.

I adjusted their recipe a little–converted it from milliliters to ounces, muddled the basil with the limoncello rather than just stirring it around (and using only half of what they called for since I had huge basil leaves), and I shook it instead of stirring. It’s a preference thing.

The Green Angel reminds me of these little candies a friend gave me back in high school. They were French rosewater sugar drops with a little bit of licorice in the center. This cocktail has almost an anise touch to it–Todd said it reminded him of the monkey-face licorice we got back in Nebraska–but I don’t know that there’s any licorice actually in there, it’s just the first impression we each got. The lemon and basil are subtle, the gin in pretty good accord with the AGWA and the apple adds enough sweet to balance out the herbal notes from both alcohols. Not as sweet as I thought it would be, but a very tasty libation.

The Red Devil was obviously our favorite. If you’d like to give it a try you can find out who in your area is likely to carry AGWA de Bolivia (if you’re lucky enough to have a BevMo, try there first) at

Oh! And an aside about the limoncello. For the love of lemons do not just pour out the limoncello and discard it! The hint of basil in the limoncello adds an amazing depth of flavor. In fact, I’d even suggest giving it a try on purpose.

FCC Disclaimer: If it isn’t already obvious, I was provided with samples of the product to try. The rambling opinions are entirely my own.

With a Cranberry on Top!

Rasp-en-Crans Salad

Rasp-en-Crans Salad

Okay, the cranberries are in it, the walnuts on top, but you get the general idea!

Serene of the (recently launched!) Mom Food Project sent in her favorite jell-o salad that sounded pretty yummy from the get-go. Actually, she described it as “strange and delicious.” I think she’s right.

Rasp-en-Crans Salad

2 1.4-oz boxes Raspberry Gelatin
1 c boiling Water
1 16-oz can Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce
1/2 c diced Celery
1 c Greek Yogurt
1/2 c chopped Walnuts, optional

Combine the gelatin and water in a mixing bowl and stir until the powder dissolves. Chill until viscous but not firm. [In other words, don’t be in a hurry, stick it in the freezer and forget about it for an hour. But if you do, let it sit at room temperature for a while and stir with a whisk. Proceed as if you didn’t just screw it up.]

Stir in the cranberry sauce, celery and yogurt until fairly uniform, adding in the nuts if you’re using them. Divide into 4 single-serving molds or or larger bowl or mold and chill until firm.

After Serene told me about this one I was curious but having to talk myself through it, too. Celery? Not the first thing I think of with the sweet. But, you know, you top celery with peanut butter and raisins, and that’s tasty. And then there’s the fruited chicken salad–it’s borderline sweet and it’s got celery in it, too! Okay, we’re good with the celery.

Originally the reference recipes I found called for sour cream. That was a no-brainer for me: Greek yogurt is just as tasty, has less calories and is naturally fat-free. And the walnuts are only optional because Todd’s allergic. In fact, I’d suggest you hold off on the nuts if you’re taking this to a pot-luck or serving guests who may have unknown allergies just because it’s so common. I did put them on the top/side of my portion and they really did add quite a lot to the flavor of the dish.

The name amuses me, and it’s my improvisation on the very boring (yet descriptive) Cran-Raspberry or Cranberry-Raspberry titles I was finding around the web. If you have a wordy crowd you could even go so far as to call it the Rasp-en-Crantz Salad with Gilded-nuts (and actually gild the walnuts). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? From Hamlet?

Moving on.

Oh, and I needed a garnish for the photo and all we had that looked right was cilantro. Even though it was just laying on top, a couple of bites featured a bit of the flavor of the garnish and I’ll be damned if it didn’t taste pretty good. And I’m not the biggest fan of cilantro even in the foods it’s SUPPOSED to be on. Go figure? I wouldn’t suggest chopping some up and adding it with the celery, but a chiffonade sprinkled over the top along with a little extra Greek yogurt might be just the thing to elevate this molded salad in the taste buds of others, as it did mine!


I’ve still got spaces open for more gelatin desserts! Leave ’em in the comments! There could even be prizes involved…