Unlike most U.S. territories and states, Puerto Rico's drinking age is 18. That, coupled with the fact that the U.S. does not require U.S. residents to have a passport to travel between Puerto Rico and the continental U.S., means Puerto Rico is becoming increasingly popular during spring break. Beer and hard liquor is available at almost every grocery store, convenience store, panaderÃa bakery, connell cabinet shops, and meat shop. There are many bars just off the sidewalk that cater to those of age, especially in San Juan and Old San Juan.
Puerto Rico is obviously famous for its rum and rum drinks, and is the birthplace of the world renowned PiÃ±a Colada. Several rums are made in Puerto Rico, including BacardÃ¬, Captain Morgan and Don Q. Rum is, unfortunately, not a connoisseur's drink in the same way as wine or whiskey, and you may get a few odd looks if you ask for it straight since it is almost always drunk as a mixer. The best rum available in Puerto Rico is known as Ron de Barrilito. It isn't available in the mainland US, and is considered to be the closest to the rums distilled in the Caribbean in the 17th and 18th centuries, both in taste and the way it is distilled. It has an amber-brown color and a delicious, clean, slightly sweet taste. Very refreshing on a hot day with ice and a mint leaf.
The local moonshine is known as pitorro or caÃ±ita', distilled like rum from fermented sugarcane. It is then poured into a jug with other flavorings such as grapes, prunes, breadfruit seeds, raisins, dates, mango, grapefruit, guava, pineapple, and even cheese or raw meat. Its production, while illegal, is widespread and a sort of national pastime. If you are lucky enough to be invited to a Puerto Rican home around Christmastime, it is likely that someone will eventually bring out a bottle of it. Use caution as it is quite strong, sometimes reaching 80% alcohol by volume although typical alcohol levels are closer to 40-50%.
During Christmas season, Puertoricans also drink "Coquito," an eggnog-like alcoholic beverage made with rum, egg yolks, coconut milk, coconut cream, sweet condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. It is almost always homemade, and is often given as a gift during the Christmas holidays. It is delicious, but very caloric. It will also make you very sick if you drink too much of it, so be careful if someone offers you some.
Most stores stock a locally-produced beer called Medalla Light that can be purchased for $1-$2 each. Medalla Light is first in the Puerto Rican market share, and until recently was only available in Puerto Rico It is now being exported to select US markets such as Florida. Other beer options for the discriminating drinker include Presidente, a light pilsner beer from nearby Dominican Republic note: it's a different brew from the Dominican version, and Beck's. Beck's imported to Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean is a different brew from the one that makes it to the U.S., and is considered by many to be better. Other beers which have popularity on the island are Budweiser bud light is not available or very difficult to find, Heineken, Corona and Coors Light, which happen to be one of the prime international markets. Many other imported beers are also available, but usually at a higher price.
Most of the beers sold vary from 10 to 12 ounce bottles or cans. The portions are small compared to the Mainland in order to be consumed before the beer has time to warm up. Tap water is treated and is officially safe to drink.
If you are an avid coffee drinker, you may find heaven in Puerto Rico. Nearly every place to eat, from the most expensive restaurants to the lowliest street vendors, serves coffee that is cheap, powerful, and delicious. Puerto Ricans drink their coffee in a way particular to the Caribbean, known as a cafÃ© cortadito, which is espresso coffee served with sweetened steamed milk. A cup of coffee at a good panaderÃa is rarely more than $1.50.
As a legacy of Puerto Rico's status as one of centers of world sugercane production, nearly everything is drunk or eaten with sugar added. This includes coffee, teas, and alcoholic drinks, as well as breakfast foods such as avena hot oatmeal-like cereal and mallorcas heavy egg buns with powdered sugar and jam. Be aware of this if you are diabetic.