Panama, like its Caribbean neighbors, likes its rum. And lots of it.
It's the first thing you're likely to notice when you're in the liquor aisle at the grocery store in Panama City. Front and center is Ron Abuelo. At the Super 99 grocery chain, a 750 mL bottle of the añejo goes for $5.99.
In fact, rum is so popular here, you can get smaller bottles for between $2 and $3. Cheap.
But if you're more of a beer person, Panama offers a four of its own brands.
The top two sellers (based on my scientific research of seeing how much shelf space each gets in the Super 99) are Balboa and Atlas.
Balboa is named after the famed Conquistador, and reminds one more of European type beers -- ie., stronger. Atlas is lighter.
And then there's Panama brand beer. (Hmmm ... how did they come up with that name?) This one also tends to be on the lighter side.
A fourth locally brewed choice is Soberana. It seems to be the least preferred of the four.
At Super 99, a six-pack of Balboa goes for $2.77, while Atlas is $3.12. Individual cans of either of the four local brews go for 52 cents each.
But aside from rum and beer, there's another drink of note in Panama -- seco.
Invented in 1908 by the Varela family, their Herrerano brand is the easiest to find here. It's regarded as Panama's national alcoholic beverage.
Basically, it's fermented sugar cane. Strong ... as in 70 proof. Be careful.
Seco sometimes replaces rum or vodka in mixed drinks, and can be mixed with anything from tropical fruit juices to milk.