Some weeks ago, we were sent several bottles of a new product hitting US liquor stores called “Agwa de Bolivia” – a hauntingly green liqueur made from Coca leaves.

Now some might wonder whether this is safe, being made from the same plant leaves used to make Cocaine. Actually, it is quite safe and Bolivians, as well as others living high in the Andes Mountains of South America have chewed Coca leaves for generations to ward off the effects of altitude sickness.

Coca is best known throughout the world because of its alkaloids, which include Cocaine, a powerful stimulant and for its medicinal properties. When chewed, Coca acts as a mild stimulant and suppresses hunger, thirst, pain, and fatigue and it would appear that many of these same qualities carry forth into Agwa de Bolivia, making it a very delightful, stimulating beverage.

The maximum benefit of the liqueur is obtained by drinking it with a squeeze of lime, straight up or on the rocks. That said, it is also great for mixing with other liquors and liqueurs.

Agwa de Bolivia is not the purified drug with its euphoric and psychoactive effects, and while it does create a little “buzz”, the effect is short lived and does not pose a risk to the consumer, according to sources. While some have claimed that cocaine is not present in coca leaves that are brewed or chewed naturally, some studies have demonstrated that small but measurable amounts of cocaine are present in the bloodstream after consumption of coca tea. Addiction or other negative effects from consuming the leaf in its natural or brewed form have not been documented.

While we like the taste and buzz effect Agwa de Bolivia affords, we’re still a bit cautious about how much one should consume in an evening. Our recommendation is to tread cautiously. Whatever you do, don’t drink this and drive. Not only might you test positive for high blood alcohol, but it is yet to be proven that you would not test positive for cocaine in your blood. Can you imagine the reaction of the police?

Though we’re recommending caution, the product must have passed FDA inspection to be placed on the market, so it is likely quite safe.

We are somehow reminded of the history of Coca-Cola, which in its orginal syrup form, used Cocaine in miniscule volume and had to be taken off the market and its formula changed. So if you have an addictive personality, think twice. If not, enjoy a shot with lime and the light buzz you’ll feel.

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