Smirnoff, Schmirnoff


Apparently the world wishes all Smirnoff Ice bottles looked like this… except in Costa Rica! Image by Ildar Sagdejev from Wikimedia Commons.

My friend Brad pointed out this article to me today. You can have a look at it, but the gist of it is that for some reason, Costa Rica is the #1 consumer of Smirnoff Ice in the world! Any time this little country is #1 in anything, it gets my interest, so I checked it out.

It’s interesting, since you do see Smirnoff Ice everywhere here. But since I’ve lived here for 8 years, I didn’t know that it wasn’t normal when compared to the rest of the world. I also didn’t know that it had a reputation for being horrible, either. I’ve not tried it myself, but obviously lots of people here must be drinking it.


Another Wikimedia Commons pic, this time and old advertisement for Smirnoff. I can’t read Russian, so I just hope it’s not something horribly racist.

Maybe it fit into a kind of niche and it’s just stuck since then. If you compare drinks (and indeed, most food) here to other places, there’s definitely less selection, especially in smaller cities. If you go to a restaurant in the US, they may have a selection of 20 beers (or more, of course, and that’s just beers), but here it’s basically never more than about 4 or 5 drinks you can get. You can have one of the two local beers, Pilsen and Imperial, which are both somewhere between bad and mediocre, in my opinion, but tourists and Costa Rican-expats seem to love them for some reason–I guess it reminds them of the beach? There’s also Heineken, which is bottled here by the same company that does Pilsen and Imperial, under some kind of franchise type deal. You can usually find a brand called Bavaria (also owned by the same company), which is a bit better. And then there’s Smirnoff Ice. OK, now that I think about it, that is really weird.

I just took an informal poll of the other Costa Ricans in my house right now, and one respondent, Angela Jimenez, replied that, “I think that Smirnoff Ice is good. Maybe they don’t like it since they have better things to drink in other countries.” I guess that basically sums it up nicely.

Do any Costa Ricans have any idea how this drink got so popular here, yet so despised in the rest of the world? I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!


Another Smirnoff, this time Veronica Smirnoff, a London-based artist. You learn something new every day. Isn’t Wikimedia Commons fun?

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Just One Monkey On One Of Infinite Typewriters at Costa Rica Outsider
Hello, and welcome to Costa Rica Outsider! My name is Ryan Sitzman. and I'm the proverbial "man behind the curtain" for this site. I hope you like it, and I'd love to hear any comments or feedback you may have. I also have a language learning blog at, or you can check out my personal site at Thanks for stopping by!

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