“Scotch and soda, a jigger of gin”
With all due respects to the Kingston Trio, sometimes finding just the right brand of liquor in Antigua can resemble an adult version of a Scavenger Hunt. This store will have those brands and that store might carry more obscure labels. Two of my personal favorites, for different reasons, are Tabacos y Vinos on 5ta norte and Aylin, on 6th sur. It’s just a Gautemalan thing and even the “big box’ stores in the city such as Pricesmart don’t offer much of a selection.
Located at #23 5ta norte, just past the larger yellow arches of what was a convent dating to 1643,Tabacos y Vinos has the Glenfiddich in the lower locked cabinet, as well as the Martell VSOP cognac, perfect with an afterdinner and genuine Cuban Montecristo #1. In the same cabinet, top right and almost out of sight: John Rexer’s Ilegal Mezcal, hard to find and apt to be in short supply now that the East Coast has discovered it. Handcrafted in small ‘˜artisanal’ batches (his words, not mine), this is a smoky distillation almost reminiscent of the finer single malt scotches: it’s not cheap, as the prices hovers in the mid $30USD ranges. In the other cabinet is the famous green shape of Tanqueray gin and above that several bottles of a brand of vodka called Pravda: could this be Russian truth serum?
If you’re in the mood for a different taste in rum other than Guatemala’s excellent Botran, consider going across town to Aylin, the liquor store/internet shop and travel agency all-in-one. Located at #1 Avenida 6th Sur, but oddly enough located mid-block, there’s a large brass @ sign in the sidewalk, as a clue and inside, on the right hand aisle is a row of the author’s personal favorite, Nicaragua’s premium export, Flor de Cana. The seven year variety is often sold out, but the five year old vintage is almost as good. If a taste of Havana is on your mind, look around for the large display of genuine Havana Club rum: the 3, 4 and 5 year varieties were available at the last inspection.
The final secret of secrets: Tanqueray, for those who appreciate excellent gin, has a very special brand known as Ten. Where would you find it in Antigua? Go to 2nd Calle, between 4th and 3rd Avenidas, look for the number 8 on the outside of a yellow house. Push the intercom and give the password: “Alejandra”. Bring money. Don’t worry about the guard at the door: this is just a wholesale liquor store disguised as a house.