As you travel the world and discover its culture and cuisine, you’re sure to try a local tipple or two, or three! It’s all part of the journey. It would be a crime not to try Italy’s most famous wines, especially as you can sample them in the very vineyards where the grapes are grown, and Spanish tapas simply screams out for a chilled glass of sherry. So, what else should you try on your travels? Read on…
Peru – pisco sour
Not only is this frothy cocktail the most popular alcoholic drink in Peru, but it’s also a classic throughout the whole of South America. Its base, pisco, is a clear, brandy-like spirit, and it’s mixed with lime juice, sugar syrup, Angostura bitters and egg white.
Japan – sake
Brewed like a beer, and drunk like a wine, sake is made using rice, water, yeast and a fungus known as koji. Before fermentation takes place, the rice is polished to remove the grains’ outer layers and then it’s left to mature for six months or more. In Japan, impress your hosts with your insider knowledge by asking for nihonshu, as it’s more commonly known. The word sake actually refers to alcohol in general.
Spain – sangria
The Spanish word for blood is sangre, so you can see how this deep-red-coloured wine punch got its name. Traditionally served by the jug, it is made using a Spanish red such as Rioja, to which fruit is added – apples, peaches, oranges and lemons are all good. Sprinkle in some sugar, then pour in orange juice and brandy. However, there are loads of recipes out there, with orange liqueur, lemonade, cinnamon sticks and vanilla all part of the mix.
Cuba – mojito
Closely followed by the daquiri, mojitos were American writer Ernest Hemingway’s favourite tipple when in Havana. This simple cocktail mixes Cuba’s signature spirit, rum, with wedges of lime, sugar, soda water and mint. The secret to releasing the flavours of the ingredients is muddling, or squishing them all together with a bar spoon. It is said that a concoction similar to the mojito was consumed by sailors as a medicine to alleviate the symptoms scurvy. As it turns out, adding citrus fruit to a patient’s diet does help to treat this now rare disease.
Italy – grappa
When in Rome… make sure you try grappa, a very Italian drink that must be sourced and produced in the country to bear the name. In a bid to waste not, want not, this brandy-style drink is made using the leftovers from the winemaking process – stalks, skin, pulp and seeds – known as pomace. Enjoy at the end of a meal either as a shot or added to an espresso, and many Italians prefer it served straight from the freezer.
Greece – ouzo
There’s no ambiguity with aniseed-flavoured aperitif ouzo – just like Marmite, you either love it or hate it! And even if you’re a fan, does it taste quite the same on a drizzly afternoon here in the UK as it does on an idyllic Greek island? Distilled from the remnants of grapes that have been pressed for wine, it is flavoured with spices such as anise, mint and coriander, and becomes milky-white when ice is added. Some believe it can ease an upset stomach or a headache, although, depending on how much you drink, the ouzo may have caused the problem in the first place!
Russia – Moscow mule
This fiery cocktail was supposedly created in the USA in the 1940s when a distillery boss and a bar owner found themselves with an abundance of vodka and ginger beer respectively. Almost by accident the pair decided to put the two together to get rid, and the drink – vodka, lime and ginger beer – was an instant hit. With its origins in Russia, there’s a museum dedicated to the spirit in St Petersburg, where you even get to sample the exhibits!
USA (New York) – Manhattan
If you only sample one cocktail on your trip to New York, it simply has to be a Manhattan! Why not take your place in a bar in this buzzing borough of New York City and sip this famous drink, which is made of American whiskey, Angostura bitters and vermouth, and garnished with a twist of orange peel. A great place to head is The View Restaurant & Lounge at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. While you sip you can view the iconic Manhattan skyline in all its glory as this rooftop bar slowly revolves.