Nightlife is Medellin’s middle name. When the weekend rolls around, paisas know how to let loose, have a good time, and enjoy a drink….or five.
To prepare you for mucha rumba (a lot of partying), here’s our drinking guide to Medellin.
The most popular beer in Antioquia. A German pilsener type of beer, it is light golden in color.
A finer, premium beer made up of 100% malt.
Aguila / Aguila Light
Light, refreshing lagers that are most popular on the Caribbean coast, where the originated, but are served everywhere.
Poker / Costeña
Also available, but in fewer locations and with less overall sales.
The price of a beer varies depending on whether you buy it at a store to enjoy at home or in a park, in your local bar or in a nightclub. In a shop, an icy bottle of Pilsen will set you back between 1,500 – 1,700 COP ($0.82 – $0.93).
In a bar you typically pay between 2,000 – 3,000 COP ($1 – $1.60) but the price can climb to 7,000 COP ($3.80) in a club or fancy restaurant. For example, a beer at Mango’s Discoteca will run you at least 10,000 COP, while the price climbs to a stratospheric 13,000 COP at Cien Fuegos.
Club Colombia costs slightly more and Aguila, Poker and Costeña are comprable to Pilsen price-wise.
Micheladas are widely available at bars, and particularly popular amongst women. To prepare a Colombian-style michelada, moisten the rim of a glass with a lime, and coat with salt. Pour a 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice in the glass, and then fill with beer.
99% of the beers sold in Medellin (the ones listed above) are owned by Bavaria, which in turn is owned by international beer giant SaabMiller. About 1% of beer sales are credited to imported beer, and about a tenth of a percentage of beer in Colombia is made by independent local beer brewers.
There are two in Medellin:
3 Cordilleras is a new brewery that has three signature beers. The Blanca is a refreshing wheat ale, the Mestiza is an American pale ale and the Mulatta is a hoppy amber ale. 3 Cordilleras has 400 points of sale in Medellin. A bottle of the microbrewed beer typically costs 3,500 – 5,000 COP ($2 – $2.70) in a bar. Brewery tours are also available.
Apostol, formally known as San Tomas, makes four unique European-style beers. They can be found at grocery stores and some exclusive bars and restaurants.
Ron Medellin Anejo
Ron Medellin Anejo is by far the rum-of-choice for paisas. Aged either 3, 8, 12 or 30 years, it is a dark golden rum, enjoyed as shots, on ice, or in a variety of cocktails.
A full bottle of rum in a shop typically goes for 25,000 COP ($13.70) and a media, or half bottle, costs about 15,000 COP ($8.20). A rum drink in a bar usually costs upwards of 5,000 COP ($2.70).
Colombia’s national drink is an anise-flavored liquor made from sugarcane. In Medellin the brand of choice is the Antioqueño brand (claro) and the drink is usually enjoyed straight, or with a little water.
Aguardiente is commonly, and lovingly, referred to as guaro in Medellin. A bottle of aguardiente costs about 20,000 COP ($11) or 10,000 COP ($5.50) in a store. The cost is significantly higher if purchased in a bar or club, which explains why teenagers can often be found drinking in the parks instead of inside discotecas.
Other types of liquor, such as vodka or tequila, are readily available in Medellin at licorerias, bars, and discotecas but the imported varieties will cost you accordingly.
For example, a bottle of Absolut Vodka at a discoteca is about 100,000 COP ($55), whereas a bottle of Ron Medellin Anejo may go for 65,000 COP ($35).
Wine isn’t Colombia’s strong point, so one would be well advised to watch what the locals drink and follow suit.
The large grocery store chains like Carrefour, Exito, and Pomona have a wide selection of imported wines. Wines from South American countries, such as Chile, tend to be less expensive then imported European and California wines.
Marques de Villa de Leyva is a Colombian brand worth mentioning – but to take advantage of the local flavor, the aforementioned liquor and beer options are your best best.
- Drinking in public is legal.
- Alcohol is not sold in the soccer stadiums.
- If you do not finish your bottle of alcohol at a bar or club, you can take it home with you (awesome).
- Mojitos and caipirinhas are widely available, and often well prepared.
- Colombians prefer to drink their rum straight, or on ice. Many believe mixing it with soda increases the likelihood of a hangover.
- Colombians are friendly, especially when drunk, so don’t be surprised if you’re offered shots of Aguardiente. Most Colombians won’t take “no” for an answer; accept it, drink it, and thank them.
- There are always bad elements, so watch your drink to make sure nobody spikes it with a drug. 99.9% of the time you’re offered a friendly shot from fellow partiers at a club, you’ll be fine. Use your best judgement.
- Some shady liquor/convenience stores sell fake liquor (think moonshine), from the cheaper brands like Aguardiente to imported varieties like Jose Cuervo tequila. To avoid buying a potentially bad-tasting, or possibly even poisinous bottle, buy your liquor at the supermarkets.
REMEMBER ~ Drink responsibly…
And have fun out there!