Colombia’s Non-Alcoholic National Drink
Limonada de coco in Medellin
The first time I tried limonada de coco was at a restaurant in Medellin. The refreshing, non-alcoholic drink won me over immediately. Since then I’ve sampled it from food-carts, high-end restaurants and trendy cafés all over Colombia.
Limonada de coco is a blended combination of lime juice, sugar, cow’s milk, coconut cream, and ice. It’s a simple recipe, yet one I crave.
My travel partner and I arrived in Medellin, ditched our bags and went in search of a patio with great food and drinks. Walking the tree-lined streets where tropical flowers filled pots and climbed the sides of shops and restaurants, the day of travel was making us thirsty. After following my electronic map to a closed vegetarian restaurant, we backtracked to a huge, welcoming patio. It stood out in my mind because of their large pig statue.
We were the only people on the patio, which, thankfully, didn’t deter us. Our friendly waiter spoke decent English, which was helpful as our Spanish wasn’t great. After sweating in Colombia’s southern, coastal, tropical heat, Medellin’s weather was refreshing. And we wanted something just as refreshing to drink.
Spying limonada de coco on the menu reminded me that I’d seen vendors selling it in bustling Cartagena. I was worried that it might be too sweet, but I ordered it anyway, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The sour lime mixed with coconut, sugar, and blended with ice was a perfect, frothy mix of tangy and sweet. I downed it before the waiter returned to ask me if I liked it. I was glad it was non-alcoholic.
We tried several variations of limonada de coco. My favorite version came with fresh grated coconut on top. A restaurant in the mountains used frozen sweetened coconut cream so the drink wasn’t diluted with ice. Street vendors often use canned coconut cream.
Sitting on the patio in Medellin, listening to the distant thunder and watching the dark clouds gather over the mountains, which is a daily occurrence, the ambiance was perfect.