Costa Rica Tainted Alcohol–Setting the Record Straight

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Living, Guanacaste Tourism, Newsletters, Vacation in Costa Rica

The recent reports about Costa Rica tainted alcohol make me think of the Guns N’ Roses song “Night Train”.  Every time I hear Guns N’ Roses, I get fired up. They wrote some incredible songs that will last forever. One of the most popular drinking songs was called Night Train, named after the cheap wine Night Train Express. “Loaded like a Freight Train; Flyin’ like an Aeroplane”; Classic Rock N Roll about rotgut booze. Unfortunately, Costa Rica had its own version of this recently, and it did not end well.

Two weeks ago, 19 people died drinking Costa Rica tainted alcohol that was contaminated with the chemical methanol.  With the recent deaths of USA citizens in the Dominican Republic, as well as Mexico, the media was quick to jump all over this story, and capitalize on the fear. As happens a lot in the media, they got it wrong. They said that tourists had died, and one news outlet even went on record and called Costa Rica “A Caribbean Island.” Anyone who has access to Google Maps, knows that we are not an island and we are not in the Caribbean. We are a Central American country, and not one tourist died. I am here to set the record straight.

Costa Rica tainted alcohol

The deaths occurred, in places where no tourist would ever go. They were inner city areas, near the capital of San Jose, and the alcohol were of the lowest caliber: Guaro Montano; Guaro Gran Apache; Aguardiente Estrella; Aguardiente Baron Roja; Aguardiente Timbuka and Molotov Aguardiente.

People, I live at the beach in a town called Playas del Coco. This is a drinking town with a fishing problem. We drink our faces off every single day. We consume more alcohol than most anywhere, except for places like Bourbon Street, and I have never even HEARD of these particular brands. This is the stuff GNR sang about. These are the Night Train, Thunderbird and Mad Dog 20/20 of Costa Rica. It is literally, one step up from Moon shine. This is the stuff bums drink, and you will never find these in any reputable bar, restaurant or resort in Costa Rica.

Relax; everything is fine; you can continue with your vacation plans for paradise.

The government confiscated 30,000 bottles of these brands of Costa Rica tainted alcohol, and have basically removed them from circulation.

So, book your ticket, and have a great time; drink and be merry and enjoy the amazing sites that this phenomenal country has to offer. If you travel to remote areas, and decide to walk into a local bar, stick to brands you are familiar with. When all else fails, drink a Pilsen. I have traveled a lot in my life, and the best cities I have ever visited, always included alcohol. You are safe. Costa Rica is beautiful. Come on down baby, and have a cocktail or two.

“Got a drink in my hand, and my toes in the sand…..”

See you soon, Michael.

By the way, Costa Rica is on an Isthmus.




  1. a narrow strip of land with sea on either side, forming a link between two larger areas of land.

Tank Tops flip Flops Newsletter edition no. 136

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January 2020
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