Now that the OC consumer has assimilated tequila, knows its mezcal, is getting into pisco, and can even name-check cachaça, it’s time someone introduces us to Colombian aguardiente. It’s anise-flavored molasses liquor that usually hovers around 60 proof—that’s light, right? But aguardiente is infamous for lulling you into non-stop drinking until you’re either crying or laughing uncontrollably or fighting with that cousin that used to bully you in your teen years—or so my Colombian friends say. Amazingly, Mr. Hi-Time doesn’t stock any Colombian aguardiente, and Total Wine only offers the mainstream Antioqueño. One of them should step up and sell Nectar, a lower-shelf brand that I prefer to Antioqueño and Cristal, the other big Colombian label. And not just any bottle of Nectar, but rather the 250 milliliter juice boxes. WHOA...
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I was able to get a couple of boxes gracias to a fan. Nectar is true to its name, saccharine and strong on the anise—you think it’s more of a digestif than a proper drink. But just one little caja gets you lit; two, and you’ll be rumbling like a paisa. Best of all is the box, which looks like those little apple juices your mom used to put in your lunch box during elementary school. I snuck one into the Orange County Press Club Awards, and no one noticed. But some of my writers did see the warning on the box in Spanish in huge, skinny letters: “EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL IS DANGEROUS TO HEALTH.” Don’t read Spanish? Don’t worry about it!