The coffee addict will be pleased to hear that Hondurans brew a mean cup of joe, most often served black with lots of sugar. In contrast to that in Guatemala, most of the coffee is actually brewed from beans; even in inexpensive comedores, a fresh cup is more common than Nescafé. If you take milk, be sure to ask for it on the side, as it is not normally served. Tea is much less common but can be found in better restaurants.
Freshly squeezed fruit juices, sometimes blended with milk or other ingredients, called licuados, can be found all across the country and make a filling midday snack that could be substituted for lunch. Often, they’re served with a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon on top and a healthy dose of sugar. If you don’t want either, be sure to advise the proprietor beforehand. Generally, the milk is prepackaged and pasteurized, but you may want to check first to be sure. You can also get combinados, various fruits mixed with orange juice or other juices, or with add-ins like peanuts, corn flakes, and wheat germ.
Refrescos can refer to soda pop as well as to fresh fruit juice mixed with water and sugar. In most establishments these are mixed with purified water, but again, check first. Two particularly tasty mixes are mora (blackberry juice) and horchata, a rice drink with cinnamon. Cartons of processed orange juice are available all over the country, but fresh-squeezed orange juice is surprisingly hard to find. Better to do what most Hondurans do—buy the cheap oranges sold everywhere on the street, cut in half and with most of the rind shaved off to allow better squeezing as you suck out the contents. Oranges usually cost two or three lempiras, 10 or 15 cents.
Tap water is rarely safe to drink in Honduras, outside of a few luxury hotels that have their own in-line purifiers. In rural areas, most towns chlorinate their water, meaning the majority of buggies are dead, but treatment seems to be haphazard. One Peace Corps volunteer working in water sanitation commented that sometimes the person in charge won’t get enough money from the town for chlorine one month or just might not get around to using it. So while drinking the water might usually be safe, it hardly seems worth the risk, considering the dysentery and other nasty ailments common in Honduras.
Many hotels, even less expensive ones, buy large bottles of purified water and keep them in the lobby for guests. Agua Azul is a popular brand of purified water sold in containers of various sizes. Be environmentally aware: Don’t buy lots of small plastic bottles and throw them away. It’s better to buy a gallon or liter jug and fill it up at your hotel (ideally, bring a high-quality water bottle from home to use, as the low-quality bottles available in Honduras aren’t great for longer-term use). This saves you money and saves Honduras a lot of plastic garbage, of which it has plenty already.
All the main brands of cervezas (beers) brewed in Honduras are made by the same company, Cervecería Nacional. Port Royal is a lager sold in a green bottle with a colorful label, and the heavier Salva Vida (“Lifesaver”) is sold in a dark-brown bottle. Brewed in Tegucigalpa, Imperial is the beer of choice for the cowboy country of central Honduras and Olancho. Going into a cantina in Olancho and asking for a Port Royal or Salva Vida is like walking into a cowboy bar in the western United States and asking for a wine cooler. Also popular are the imported beers Heineken, Corona, and Budweiser.
Several varieties of ron (rum) of reasonable quality are distilled in Honduras, but other local spirits, such as gin and vodka, are nauseatingly bad. The local rot-gut liquor is aguardiente, either made in local stills and sold by the jug, or bottled by low-budget distillers and sold in liquor stores. The most popular variety is El Buen Gusto, also called Yuscarán for the town where it’s made.
Local wines are not worth mentioning, but several foreign varieties can be found in better supermarkets and liquor stores. Avoid them on the north coast as they don’t hold up well when stored in the heat.
A word about drinking establishments: Waiters in cantinas or inexpensive restaurants often leave the empty beer bottles on the table when you order more. This is merely a way to help with accounting at the end of the night.
Those who venture into the more remote parts of rural Honduras, particularly in the central and western regions, will note that many small towns and villages are dry. However, you can often find a pulpería selling beers on the sly if you ask around.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition