Santo Domingo.– You know it's hot out when a beer looks so good you consider marrying it. Temperatures always soar here, but the summer packs the coastal areas of this Caribbean country with stifling humidity.
Few buildings have air conditioning, and those that do are at the mercy of frequent blackouts. The best solution: beer. And not just any beer. A beer so cold you almost need gloves to pick it up. So beautiful, the sweaty men who crowd the corner stores call it vestida de novia – "in a wedding dress."
"Dame una fria!" a customer will shout out – "Give me a cold one." A great freezer is opened, and out pours a winter fog. On the official green refrigerators that hold the national beer, Presidente, the thermometer jumps from just above freezing, briefly rises into double digits, then falls back down. The bottle emerges and its green glass blanches white.
Cold air rises like steam from the open top. Foam filled with ice crystals rises up the neck and drips down the side. What lies below has become almost a golden, viscous syrup. "It helps with the heat. The cold just rises up through you," said Jose Oritz, 23, who works the counter at a Santo Domingo store.
He put his hand on his stomach, ran it up past his chest and smiled. Being a Catholic country, it is not actually legal to wed your beer here. But after putting back a few on a steaming tropical day, you may feel that you already have.