Bottle #27: Convier Menta

Aug 30, 2023

Bottle #27 is a bottle of mint liqueur from Convier in Colombia. Based on information from a mini collectors Facebook group, it’s from somewhere between the 1970s and 1990s, when the company released mini bottles featuring all their different flavors. Today those include passion fruit, orange, green apple, and strawberry. And Menta, still in the same shockingly vivid and artificial color of green as mine.

When I first started researching this bottle I didn’t think I’d find much. For one thing, all the words on the bottle are in Spanish. And, at least today, Convier isn’t available outside Colombia, so there’s almost no English language information about it available online. But thankfully, I have Google translate!

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While Convier is the brand name, this tiny bottle was produced and sold by Coloma, Ltda, a Colombian company which owns a whole bunch of different brands. As best I can tell, it started with coffee, which the Constain family began producing in the 1960s at their 150-year-old, family-owned estate called Hacienda Coloma, which is located outside Bogota. From that came a coffee liqueur, followed by the Convier fruit liqueurs, and most recently, rum.

If it wasn’t for the newly released rum, this bottle might have been a tough nut to crack. But the story of the rum gave me the name of the family patriarch, and that led me down some surprisingly odd rabbit holes. As best I can tell, Alberto Constain Medina led quite a complicated life. He purchased Hacienda Coloma from a cousin in 1959 and began growing premium coffee there, and started producing a coffee liqueur a few years after. But what he really wanted to make was rum, which was not possible in Colombia thanks to a government monopoly on distillation. So he set up a distillery in Ecuador, which was thwarted by a financial crisis there. Somewhere along the way the line of Convier fruit liqueurs got into the mix. And then, in 1999, he had a short-lived and scandal-laden tenure as the Colombian ambassador to Ecuador. Liquor tariffs and regulations between the two countries were among the hot topics at the time, and he was accused of having a conflict of interest due to a liquor-related business in Ecuador run by his kids. After only 3 months on the job, he resigned.

And that was not the only scandal! The first hint I got that this bottle was going to be more intriguing than most was when a search on his name led me to a personal blog written by his unrecognized daughter, Pascal Constain Karp, who only got justice in her paternity suit after his death in 2005: “That day, they took him out of the coffin, lowered his pants and took a DNA sample from his buttocks. After more than 20 years of filiation process, I won and changed my last name, without any glory.” The site is a soap opera worthy takedown of the man she only wanted to admit was her father, and lest you not realize quite how angry she still is, the web browser tab icon is a raised middle finger!

So that’s the surprisingly interesting tale I’ve got to go with this tiny bottle. I’m thinking when I open it for tasting I should use it to mix up a Stinger in honor of Pascal, because — OUCH — she is not pulling any punches.

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Bottle #27: Convier Menta

Aug 30, 2023 |

Bottle #27 is a bottle of mint liqueur from Convier in Colombia. Based on information from a mini collectors Facebook group, it’s from somewhere between the 1970s and 1990s, when the company released mini bottles featuring all their different flavors. Today those include passion fruit, orange, green apple, and strawberry. And Menta, still in the same shockingly vivid and artificial color of green as mine.

When I first started researching this bottle I didn’t think I’d find much. For one thing, all the words on the bottle are in Spanish. And, at least today, Convier isn’t available outside Colombia, so there’s almost no English language information about it available online. But thankfully, I have Google translate!

While Convier is the brand name, this tiny bottle was produced and sold by Coloma, Ltda, a Colombian company which owns a whole bunch of different brands. As best I can tell, it started with coffee, which the Constain family began producing in the 1960s at their 150-year-old, family-owned estate called Hacienda Coloma, which is located outside Bogota. From that came a coffee liqueur, followed by the Convier fruit liqueurs, and most recently, rum.

If it wasn’t for the newly released rum, this bottle might have been a tough nut to crack. But the story of the rum gave me the name of the family patriarch, and that led me down some surprisingly odd rabbit holes. As best I can tell, Alberto Constain Medina led quite a complicated life. He purchased Hacienda Coloma from a cousin in 1959 and began growing premium coffee there, and started producing a coffee liqueur a few years after. But what he really wanted to make was rum, which was not possible in Colombia thanks to a government monopoly on distillation. So he set up a distillery in Ecuador, which was thwarted by a financial crisis there. Somewhere along the way the line of Convier fruit liqueurs got into the mix. And then, in 1999, he had a short-lived and scandal-laden tenure as the Colombian ambassador to Ecuador. Liquor tariffs and regulations between the two countries were among the hot topics at the time, and he was accused of having a conflict of interest due to a liquor-related business in Ecuador run by his kids. After only 3 months on the job, he resigned.

And that was not the only scandal! The first hint I got that this bottle was going to be more intriguing than most was when a search on his name led me to a personal blog written by his unrecognized daughter, Pascal Constain Karp, who only got justice in her paternity suit after his death in 2005: “That day, they took him out of the coffin, lowered his pants and took a DNA sample from his buttocks. After more than 20 years of filiation process, I won and changed my last name, without any glory.” The site is a soap opera worthy takedown of the man she only wanted to admit was her father, and lest you not realize quite how angry she still is, the web browser tab icon is a raised middle finger!

So that’s the surprisingly interesting tale I’ve got to go with this tiny bottle. I’m thinking when I open it for tasting I should use it to mix up a Stinger in honor of Pascal, because — OUCH — she is not pulling any punches.

2 Comments

  1. I might have been able to help — I have an artist friend from Columbia whose father was a diplomat.

    Reply
    • Feel free to share it with them now, see if they have anything to add!

      Reply

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