Whenever there is an asado in Colombia—a great social gathering around the grill—you’ll find pitchers of refajo, a crisp bittersweet cocktail made with beer, Colombiana (a smooth, tangy soft drink similar to cream soda), and aguardiente, an anise-flavored liqueur made from sugarcane. From the moment we start marinating the meat to the last bite at the end of the day, everyone has a glass of refajo in hand, cooling us against the midday sun and the grill’s heat. Wherever you find someone drinking refajo, you’re sure to find someone talking about the best way to make it: Some like it light and sweet, with more Colombiana, while others prefer it heavy with beer. Some love a strong taste of aguardiente, while others dislike the licorice note it adds to the drink.
As for me, I like my refajo with just a hint of aguardiente, and plenty of creamy bubbles—equal parts Colombiana and beer produce a thick, sweet, and slightly tart head that reminds me of my childhood. Like many Colombian kids, my parents would let me lick the foam—and nothing but the foam—off their glasses as a treat before devouring copious amounts of steak, grilled corn, potatoes, and sausage.