15 Top Tipples to Wet Your Whistle
First off a disclaimer: I am neither promoting excessive drinking nor the regrettable behaviour that often accompanies this activity. And I am certainly not promoting the head-bursting, stomach-churning, sweat-ridden hangovers that tend to follow such evenings of debauchery.
What I am recommending is that testing out the local tipple is a great way to experience part of a country’s culture, and it usually leads to a fun-filled evening. Avoid the tourist bars and instead bond with the locals while you join them in drinking their ‘usual’. Here are 15 drinking experiences not to miss on your travels:
Mezcal in Mexico
Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘tequila worm’. Mezcal is the liquor that contains such a treat. Smokier in taste to tequila (although both are made from the agave plant), Mezcal is the true alcohol of choice for Mexicans and ‘Mezcalerias’ are making a popular comeback throughout the country. The locals say you should drink Mezcal on two occasions: “for everything bad, for everything good”. So, basically, all the time
Pisco in Peru and Chile
Claimed by both Peru and Chile as their invention, Pisco is a staple drink in South America. It is essentially a type of brandy which is popularly served with egg white, lime juice and sugar syrup as a Pisco Sour cocktail.
Castle Lager in South Africa
Those loud and party-loving South Africans love a beer, and Castle is their brand of choice. Produced by one of the oldest breweries in the country, Castle Lager is well-known for sponsoring the South African cricket and football teams. After a few Castles, the locals are also fond of a brandy or two.
Guiness in Ireland
A classic drink that supposedly tastes different in Ireland than anywhere else in the world (and therefore, we assume, superior). The stout is actually good for you too, being so full of iron and anti-oxidants that it could almost be viewed as a meal-replacement drink – so it’s economical, too.
Sangria in Spain
Sangria is probably the only red wine-based cocktail in the world that tastes good. Typically made from wine, chopped fruit, brandy and a touch of sweetener, the drink is served cold and goes wonderfully with Spanish tapas. A few glasses with lunch will help you prepare for that all-important afternoon siesta.
Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand
As far as ‘New World’ wines go, the Marlborough region in New Zealand’s South Island is one of the greatest success stories. Only hitting the scene in the late 1980’s, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is famous across the globe and nicely compliments the fresh seafood on offer throughout New Zealand.
Bai Hoi in Vietnam
Quite possibly the cheapest beer in the world that you didn’t brew yourself. The locally brewed draft beer costs as little as ten pence a glass, which is pretty much unbeatable value. Bai Hoi is brewed daily and generally sold in tiny bars on street corners where the furniture consists of child-sized plastic chairs.
Rum in the Caribbean
No drink says “I’m on holiday” better than a rum-based cocktail. Be it a classic mojito or a creamy pina colada, sip it whilst relaxing on a stunning white-sanded beach overlooking the clear blue Caribbean sea. Preferably reclining in a hammock at the same time. You’re craving rum now, aren’t you?
Belikin Beer in Belize
Not only popular for their awesome use of alliteration, the Belikin beer company is the most popular in the country. They produce lager, stout and premium beers and have all but swept their competition out of the market, meaning you are unlikely to drink any other brand in Belize.
Whisky in Scotland
Let me be clear here: we are talking about Scotch whisky – not Bourbon. There is a massive difference in flavour and, if I was Queen Of The World, bartenders the globe over would be educated on this fact. Anyway, whilst in Scotland a visit to a whisky distillery is a must-do. If you don’t like whisky, that’s ok – just keep drinking it until you change your mind.
Bourbon in the United States
Speaking of Bourbon (and this is whiskey with an ‘e’), it should be your drink of choice whilst visiting southern US states such as Tennessee and Kentucky. Tennessee may be the home of world-famous Jack Daniels, but 95% of all American Bourbon is produced in Kentucky. The major distilleries of Jim Beam, Wild Turkey and Maker’s Mark are all based there. Check out Kentucky’s ‘Bourbon Trail’ for a true American drinking holiday.
Vodka in Poland
Although Russia leads the world in production of this dangerously tasteless alcohol, the Poles are big in the game too. They produce one of the most interesting vodkas in the world: bison grass flavour (which is excellent mixed with apple juice).
Pilsner in Germany and the Czech Republic
It’s hard to order a beer in Germany or the Czech Republic that isn’t a pilsner. Served with a frothy head that takes up most of the glass, this Bavarian lager has a distinctively hoppy flavour. The Czechs and Germans drink the most beer of any country in the world per-capita – it would be rude to order any other beverage and mess with those impressive stats.
Malbec in Argentina
Although French in origin, the Malbec grape is now more famous for the wine that Argentina makes from it. There is even a high-altitude version of the wine which is apparently the finest the country has to offer. A tour of the vineyards in Argentina is a great way to sample locally produced Malbec – usually for free.
Caesars in Canada
This one is for the hangover the next morning. The Canadians’ take on a Bloody Mary sounds pretty rancid: made with clamato juice, from clams (ew), vodka and spiced with seasoning, apparently this is the thing to drink when you awake feeling like the world is ending. After imbibing a Caesar you will be magically reborn again in a non-hungover form. Only if you can keep it down, though…