Columbian spirit- Aguardiente Cristal
Interested in learning more about this spirit. I've had Aguardiente Cristal at a couple bars in NYC in place of rum in a mojito, and I relished the additional nuance of anise it gave an already delicious drink. Not bad on its own, either.
Wikipedia says Columbian aguardiente is a sugar-cane derived, anise-flavored liquor with 29% alcohol content. A (new-improved) search on the boards turned up a brief mention by the LA board's jerome, saying it's similar to cachaca, closer to vodka than rum, and that it never belongs in a mojito. Fine by me. Let's call it an aguardientito and enjoy it just the same.
Anyone else tried this licorice-y wonder? And how different is it from pastis?
No, I don't think it's anything like cachaça. Cachaça definitely tastes like a rum relative; aguardiente is more like a lighter, stronger anisette. If it ever had a distinct cane-y flavor, it doesn't by the time it's bottled.
I once had a Colombian roommate who would pull out a bottle once in a while but I always thought it was pretty nasty and she said it wasn't great, but about as good as anything you can get here. And besides, according to her, the firewater aspect was desireable. (Not by me, but YMMV.) Availability may have become much greater - a lot has changed on the food front in the past 15 years.
It's pretty rough stuff. I don't remember which brand I had but some Colombian chefs at a restaurant I used to work at would break it out at the end of their shift. It needs to be cut with something though I'm not sure with what, it's sort of like Ouzo's meaner, cleaner big brother.