Enter the Best Cocktail On Earth
On Valentine’s Day, Roberto and I went to a restaurant called Trawen, tucked away in the resort village of Pucón. After perusing the drink selection, I decided on a mojito with something called “Träkál” in it. I am assumed it was rum, but it wasn’t. It was better.
The first sip of my mojito con frutilla was almost transcendentally good, and not in a saccharine Eat, Pray, Love way. It tasted the way listening to Enya and looking at corgis on Instagram makes you feel; like waking up three hours before you’re supposed to and having the unexpected luxury of more sleep. The subtle fruitiness of the liquor was a pleasant surprise and a perfect partner for the strawberries at the bottom of the drink. I slurped them up and quickly ordered another with renewed confidence.
It’s almost impossible to describe Träkál (Trah-CALL) to someone who’s never tasted it, since it’s a spirit literally in its own category. It’s a clear liquor that smells like a ghost who wandered through an Anthropologie
True to its mission, Träkál — which packs a respectable 42 percent ABV — is distilled and sourced from ingredients in Chilean Patagonia. I couldn’t find it in any of the local supermarkets, which makes me wonder if I imagined the drink in a fugue state induced by too much barbeque.
Ben Long, one of the co-founders of Träkál, tells Inverse that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) granted the drink its own classification as a “spirit distilled from apple and pear with natural flavors.”
“I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do with that,” Long says. “The important thing is [the Bureau] recognized that we were different, and that we do not fall into a traditional category. If brandy and gin had a baby with Patagonian ingredients, that’s Träkál.”
Sipping that strange mojito in Pucón, just a few miles away from an intimidatingly large, active volcano, Träkál tasted fresh and unfamiliar. In that moment, a haze of laughter and bread (so much bread), I embraced my distance from home. While I might never understand the brain-mojito connection, there’s research to suggest that even a few days of international travel can make a person less anxious and more creative. Maybe that’s why I decided to contemplate my nature as stranger-in-a-strange-land in a bar 5,000 miles from home.
Maybe it was something in the water or the Träkál, or the smell of asado that wafted through the cool night air. But that night in the bar, I resigned myself from becoming anxious about using the subjunctive or usted form perfectly, which would likely disappoint my high school Spanish teacher and Gary from Duolingo.
Everyone is embarrassing all the time, myself included, but at least I’m trying not to be. I had to travel 24 hours, across hemispheres and on three airplanes, to realize we’re all just dumb-dumbs doing our best. We’re all skeletons piloting around these uncomfortable flesh cocoons in the hopes that we’ll do at least a few good things in our lifetimes and maybe one day understand the difference between por and para.
It took a drunken night that ended in ice cream to get me to realize this bizarrely comforting truth, but hopefully, your existential awakening won’t involve a hangover.