AGWA de Bolivia

Coca leaf liquor’s unique “green glow” is fun in Halloween cocktails—or any time of year.

By Hope S. Philbrick

AGWA de Bolivia, billed as the world’s premiere coca leaf liquor, is “grown in Bolivia, made in Amsterdam.” I’d never heard of the green stuff previously, so agreed to sip a sample.

A shimmering emerald green hue, it sniffs of lime, herbs and white chocolate. The medium-bodied liquid tastes like ginger beer, candied lime, iced tea and mint.

AGWAAccording to press materials, “Wild Bolivian coca leaves are hand-picked at 2000 meters in the Andes and shipped under armed guard in 2000 kilo bales to Amsterdam to be macerated [immediately, into a tea] and de-cocainized. The potent high-strength flavor formula is reduced to 60 proof, bottled and then shipped around the world.”

I’ve never tried and have no interest in trying cocaine, this is as close as I’ll get…which gives this spirit a naughty edge and may add to its appeal in certain crowds and/or settings.

In that regard, it’s like absinthe, except it tastes better. And because it’s less complex than Chartreuse liqueur, it’s more approachable (although I do like that spirit).

Recent marketing efforts have backed away from that original, edgier “cocaine” angle. The current official word is tamer: Pot-distilled to a strength of 82%, “AGWA pure coca leaf distillate is rested before being harmoniously blended with over 36 different herbs and botanicals—including Chinese green tea, ginseng, cucumber, lavender, Amazon guarana and African mint—resulting in a unique blend handcrafted by a world-class master blender. The high strength formula is finally distilled and reduced to 30% ABV.”

Like any good ghost legend, the story can be tamed down for a timid audience. What’s in the bottle is the same whichever version of its story you prefer.

“We are proud of the meticulous care and choice natural ingredients we incorporate into our formula” said Mark Wilson, BABCO CEO. And the response is clear: There’s a growing global demand for the spirit and it’s reached cult status with some fans—from mega clubs in Asia to bars and upscale restaurants across Europe and now in the U.S.

AGWA frozenAGWA is tasty served cold on the rocks and is most often consumed straight in a frozen “limed” shot.

It’s also mixable and its “green glow” makes it a nice choice for thematic Halloween cocktail recipes.

AGWA forms ice crystals when frozen, which concentrates the color and causes the liquid to form a “green glow” which uniquely intensifies the flavor.

Note that AGWA needs to be chilled at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours in order for it to glow.

Here are a few AGWA recipes created with Halloween in mind:

The Devil’s Kiss

AGWA and a Lime Wedge

Bite into lime wedge before enjoying the frozen shot

Red Devil

Cranberry and AGWA on the rocks

Bolivian Bloody Mary

25 ml AGWA De Bolivia, 100ml Tomato Juice, 10ml Worcestershire Sauce, 5ml Tabasco Sauce, Pinch of salt + pepper + celery salt (as desired), lemon slice

Pour all the ingredients over cubed ice in a highball glass and stir really well.

Green Diablo

15ml AGWA de Bolivia, 15ml Melon Liqueur, 2 Lime wedges

Pour ingredients and squeeze the lime wedges into a shaker. Add ice, shake well and serve.

Green Angel

8 basil leaves, 12.5ml limoncello, 37.5ml gin, 25ml AGWA, 25ml pure apple juice, vanilla sugar

In a chilled Boston glass (mixer) place 7 Basil leaves, fill with crushed ice, drizzle the limoncello and stir. Strain off limoncello, add 3 other liquids and stir to taste. Rim the martini glass with a lime wedge and sprinkle vanilla sugar on outside only. Strain Boston contents into serving glass. Garnish with remaining basil leaf.

Devil’s Snare

35ml AGWA, 25ml Absinthe

Shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with orange sugar.


-Recipes and images courtesy AGWA de Bolivia

Fair Warning: AGWA is reputed to have a noteworthy after-effect, often referred to the “AGWA buzz.”
Be a responsible grownup: Never drink and drive.

Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.

HopeP_144Hope S. Philbrick is founder and editor-in-chief of Getaways for Grownups. She became a freelance writer and editor because she believes that work and fun should not be mutually exclusive. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications nationwide. When not writing, she can usually be found on the road or savoring something tasty.

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