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Monday, April 21, 2014

Cervezas in Cabarete: Jay's Adventure in the Dominican Republic Part Uno

I made my first international trek since starting Bite and Booze in the spring of 2013 with a journey to Toronto for a weekend at TBEX with Visit Baton Rouge. Later in the year, I had a chance to travel to the Dominican Republic for the first time. A little sun and Caribbean paradise is exactly what I needed... though really I most looked forward to experiencing a different culture complete with authentic local foods.

Our trip, sponsored by Dominican Republic's Ministry of Tourism, brought us to the north coast of the nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with neighboring Haiti. We flew into Gregorio Luperón International Airport outside Puerto Plata and then bused to Cabarete, a beach town where kitesurfing is the most popular sport and life is about as laid back as it gets. Our crew, made up of writers and bloggers from all walks of men's lifestyle, checked in at the Millennium Resort & Spa right on the beach in Cabarete. I'd highly recommend this place to anybody looking to visit the area.

The View from my room at Millennium Resort & Spa in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
The view from my room at Millennium Resort & Spa in Cabarete, Dominican Republic

We had a lot planned for all the men on the trip. Our Dominican "Mancation" had been designed by our tour guides Annie and Jess as well as our local expert Carlos from the Ministry of Tourism. Upon arrival to our hotel on a warm and sultry afternoon I immediately requested the local flagship beer of the Dominican Republic, Presidente. In an interesting tradition the beer came wrapped in a paper towel around not only the base of the bottle to serve as insulation but also around the neck. I soon found out that all beers in the Dominican Republic and in fact a lot of the Caribbean are served that way. I suppose you want the ice cold beer to stay frosty, so I understand the napkin koozie. The top napkin dates back to lesser bottling standards and reusing bottles. Beers were served with a napkin so that you could wipe rust off the rim underneath the cap. The beers are still served that way today, though I never noticed any rust issues.  

The Presidente itself is a pilsner style lager beer with a taste of the island. It works well as a beach beer for sure. While it is truly nothing noteworthy compared to the the world of craft beer, when you have some sand between your toes and it is hot and humid outside, the near-freezing cerveza certainly hits the spot.

Presidente Beer in the Dominican Republic Undressed

On the first night there we took a stroll into the town of Cabarete which happens to be right down the beach from our lodging. Along the beach quite a few bars and restaurants gave life to the night breeze rolling in off the Atlantic. I looked forward to a great meal and some drinks to accompany the food. We passed a place called Mojito and I liked the look of the drink menu. That Presidente for 100 Dominican pesos translates into a little over $2. The Cuba Libre, or rum and Coke, even less. I could get used to this.

We ended up stopping at a little spot called the Emerald Beach Club which had a table waiting for us on the sand. I opted for the shrimp curry which came with some steamed veggies and coconut rice. As a whole the dish sufficed for the evening. The coconut rice with the curry sauce created a great flavor combination that worked with my fruity beach cocktail. The shrimp also did quite well in the curry sauce. Perhaps the highlight of the night was the mamajuana that we got from a beach merchant. Mamajuana is a local tonic that consists of rum, red wine, and bunch of unidentifiable bark, roots, and herbs. It is common to see people selling shots of the elixir on the beaches around the Dominican Republic. It is a pretty potent drink that dates back to the days of using such bitters for medicinal purposes. Mamajuana is also said to have an aphrodisiac property. I gave it a shot while in the company of strangers on the beach. The flavor tasted a little like cough syrup, a little like absinthe, and a little like nothing I had ever had before. Drinkable, yes, but I didn't find myself in a hurry to get another.

shrimp in curry sauce cabaretemojito drink menu cabarete

lime cake cabarete
mamajuana in cabarete

This marked conclusion of my first day in the DR. After a couple more beers on the beach I headed back to Millenium to rest up for the next day's adventures. There's more to come about other activities from the trip here on Bite and Booze, so stay tuned. For a little preview of what else I got into, check out the video below!


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