by Brian Paulo Norrell
photo by Aaron Sheman
There are but a very few places in the entire world that can boast of numerous alcoholic drinks of excellent quality such as Mexico. Not only do they have plenty of great tasting wines and spirits, but many of these drinks that are unique to Mexico can be had for very affordable prices. For San Diego college students on spring break for instance, quantity is the more desirable aspect of the two. Serious wine connoisseurs on the other hand, will take delight on the fact that they can buy gourmet tequila and expensive drinks in Baja for prices that are definitely lower than those in supermarkets and wineries in the United States. Whether it is quantity or quality that you prefer when it comes to spirits and wines, you are sure to find Baja California in Mexico to be booze paradise.
Baja California, Mexico is no doubt the spring break hot spot for those in San Diego, California and other nearby cities. An endless fountain of tequila, kahlua, margarita and plenty of other alcoholic drinks come to mind at the mention of Baja cities such as Tijuana and Mexicali. The spirits industry of Baja California seems to be patronized by party goers, tourists, wine aficionados, and locals as well. In fact, there are so many people coming and going to Baja California to purchase wines and spirits that the government has issued rules regarding the allowed amount of alcoholic drinks tourists can bring back with them from their trip to Baja ( I think it’s around 2.5 to 4 liters although I am not at all certain).
Living a single bachelor’s life such as the one I lead requires you to have a well stocked bar and cocktail cabinet and nothing more. Making sure that i have ample supply of booze however, costs a great deal of money and I find myself always settling for cheaper drinks even though the quality that I require is not met at all. But due to a vacation trip to Baja California some years ago, I discovered a great place to go shopping for booze of all kinds and quality.
If you drive around the highways and tourist districts in Baja, whether in Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, Ensenada or all the way south in Los Cabos, you are bound to encounter plenty of wineries and liquor stores. There, you can stock up on all sorts of tequila ( I didn’t know there are hot, smooth, sweet, spicy, sharp and light tequila until I went into one of these stores), Kahlua, gin, rum, vodka, red wine, whiskey, scotch, and other alcoholic drinks whose names I have never even encountered until then. There are also specialty liquor stores that sell extremely rare drinks and sought-after gourmet alcohol.
Another feature that I so love about booze you can buy in Baja is that the bottles and containers are as many as they are varied. I once bought tequila which was bottled in a wooden vial-like container that is covered with carvings of Aztec gods and symbols. I also have a 7 bottle set of flavored margarita contained in hand-blown glass bottles, each of which showcase a specific color from the rainbow. A friend also gave me gourmet tequila (sweet and light) encased in a beautiful jar made of crystal. There was also a time when I bought several small green bottles made of glass containing flavored gin. Each one of the bottles were shaped like a small cactus plant and they made for great souvenirs and gifts.
Aside from the liquor stores, most of the supermarkets in Baja also have liquor sections where you can find all these kinds of drinks in one place. Most of the time, the drinks you can buy at Baja supermarkets are cheaper than those in liquor stores and stores in tourist districts because there are no tourist taxes and additional fees placed on them. You would be surprised at just how much you can save if you buy spirits and alcoholic drinks just beyond the border.