50 Best Local Drinks Around the World


Written by Isabel Clift

I love to try new tipples, the weirder the better in my book. Here are the 50 best local drinks on my wishlist for getting a little tipsy around the world.

Some are well-known, some I guarantee you’ll never have heard of. How many have you ticked off so far?

Tinto de Verano

1. Tinto de Verano, Spain: They mix this up at home on the Costa del Sol or other Southern parts of spain. One part supermarket wine, one part gaseosa (carbonated lemonade), it makes for a ruby-red treat with a bit of sparkle on hot days. Thanks for the pic Adamina


2. Tequila, Mexico: You drink tequila straight in Mexico – no need to faff about with salt and lime. The country’s funnest export since sombreros is produced from more than 300 million blue agarve plants every year, which grow in volcanic soil near the city of Tequila, Jalisco. Thanks for the pic fakelvis


3. Negroni, Italy: The story goes that the negroni was invented in 1919 at Florence’s Caffè Casoni, now called Caffè Cavall. It’s drunk as an apéritif and is particularly popular in the north. Mix it up with one part Campari bitters, one part gin, one part vermouth rosso. Thanks for the pic ChodHound


4. Absinthe, France: At 80% proof, this stuff will blow your head off – as it did famous fans Hemingway and Van Gogh. Cooked up in 18th century Neuchatel, Switzerland, the Green Fairy’s adopted home is Paris – by 1910 the French were drinking 36 million litres a year. Then it got banned for most of the 20th century, forever cementing its badass reputation. Thanks for the pic jdn


5. Vodka, Russia: If the thought of drinking vodka neat makes you screw your face up, you’ve been on the wrong stuff, my friend. Good vodka goes down smoothly: in Moscow, sip it in shooters between bites of zakuvski (hors d’oeuvres) or drop it in your beer (yikes). Thanks for the pic Robynlou8

Siam Sunray

6. Siam Sunray, Thailand: Created in 2009 as a way to lure in tourists, the Siam Sunray has now become the county’s signature drink. It’s made with fresh lemongrass and red chillies, so watch out…Thanks for the pic jetalone .

Bourbon whiskey

7. Bourbon whiskey, USA: Head to Kentuky’s Bourbon County for a swig of the good stuff at its original source. They’ve been serving locally distilled bourbon here since the 18th century – prop yourself up at a dive bar and ask for six-year aged brew served straight over ice with water. Thanks for the pic Sashafatcat


8. Ouzo, Greece: Every neighbourhood in Greece has an ouzerie, where you can sip the national drink and snack on meze – typically small plates of octopus, olives and feta cheese. Ouzo has a liquoirice taste and is served neat in a shot glass, or mixed with ice and water. Fact: you’ll get hammered very quickly if you skip the meze. Thanks for the pic divya_


9. Akvavit, Denmark, Sweden and Norway: If you attend any kind of special occasion in Scandinavia, you’ll find yourself quaffing shot after shot of this caraway-infused spirit, then chasing it down with beer. Shout “skål!” (cheers!) when you do for extra points. Thanks for the pic Cameron Nordholm


10. Konyagi, Tanzania: Folk rave about Tanzania’s local rum: it’s got a spicy, citrussy kick but goes down smooth as silk. Drink it with any mixer, or use in a Dawa cocktail (Swahili for ‘medicine’): that’s two shots of Konyagi with sqeezed lime juice, crushed ice, honey, brown sugar and a dash of tonic. Thanks for the recipe and pic Dan Albrecht


11. Grappa, Italy: A sweet-smelling pomace brandy made from grapes, Grappa is served all over Italy as a digestif. You might add a shot of Grappa to your after-meal espresso to create caffe corretto, or “corrected coffee” – now there’s a correction we’re happy to make. Thanks for the pic Laenulfean

Dark and Stormy

12. Dark ‘n’ Stormy, Bermuda: Pour Gosling’s Black Seal Rum over ice and top with ginger beer and a wedge of lime; sip under a palm tree while watching waves crash on the shore. Ahh, Bermuda! Thanks for the pic kansasphoto


13. Koskenkorva, Finland: Know locally as Kossu, this is Finland’s most popular spirit. A salty liqiourice flavoured version called Salmiakkikossu is also on the market. Thanks for the pic Blue moon in her eyes

Newcastle Brown Ale

14. Newcastle Brown Ale, North East England: Called “dog” (because it “bites yer legs”), “mother’s milk”, “the one and only” and “broon” (the Geordie accent on brown), home city Newcastle holds this beer in huge affection. Ask for anything lighter in certain northeast pubs and you’ll get funny looks. Thanks for the pic mfajardo


15. Caipirinha, Brazil: Eeeey, another round of Caipirinhas por favor! Brazil’s national cocktail is made from cachaça (sugarcane rum), raw sugar and lime. The name translated means “hillbilly.” Thanks for the pic swanksalot


16. Palinka, Hungary: “Good morning with pálinka!” goes the greeting on celebration days. This fruit brandy is prepared with plum, pear, apricot, apple, sour cherry or grape, and you can buy bottles with whole fruit grown inside. Thanks for the pic savagecat


17. Pastis, France: A super-popular anise-flavoured liqueur (the French get through 130 million litres a year) Marseille’s most famous aperitif is consumed all over the south in summertime with water and ice. Thanks for the pic cyclonebill

Vana Tallinn

18. Vana Tallinn, Estonia: Two kinds of this sweet vanilla and cinnamon-flavoured liqueur are available: a heavier 100 proof, and a less alcoholic cream liqueur (Kooreliköör). Mix the stronger one with Russian sparkling wine for a knock-yer-head-off hammer and sickle cocktail. Thanks for the pic Camera on autopilot

Scottish single malt Whiskey

19. Single Malt Whiskey, Scotland: Aged in oak barrels for at least three years (though connoisseurs will tell you the best ones might be ten years old or more),  around 140 distilleries produce Scottish single malt whiskey. For the fullest taste, hold a sip in your mouth for one second for every year the whiskey’s been aged. Thanks for the pic EverJean


20. Sake, Japan: In Japan, sake means any alcoholic drink: you need to order nihonshu  to receive the beverage English speakers call sake. The drink comes in a huge range of sugary and acidic strengths, and is served hot or cold: better-quality ones are served cold so the flavour’s appreciated. Thanks for the pic Jouko Karvonen


21. Port, Portugal: Produced in northern Portugal’s Douro Valley, this sweet, fortified red wine is typically taken with dessert. Warning from experience: gives incredible headaches if you overdo it!  Thanks for the pic Francisco Antunes


22. Raki, Turkey: Drink Turkey’s national drink sek (straight) or add ice and chilled water. It’s known locally as aslan sütü (“lion’s milk”) because adding water makes it cloudy. Thanks for the pic arteunporro


23. Fernet, Argentina: Bitter and aromatic with a hint of saffron, this amaro drink is wildly popular mixed with coke in Argentina. Thanks for the pic xurde


24. Jenever, Belgium and the Netherlands: Mixed up by a 16th-century Dutch alchemist, this strong, juniper-flavoured liquor is what gin evolved from. Go to Amsterdam and Schiedam in the Netherlands and Hasselt and Liege in Belgium to try the drink on home soil. Thanks for the pic toolmantim


25. Limoncello, Southern Italy: Like a glass of Italian sunshine, limoncello is made from Sorrento lemons mixed with syrup. You’ll drink it as an after-dinner digestif in southern Italy on the Amalfi coast, Ischia and Capri. Thanks for the pic swanksalot


26. Cider, South West England: Cider’s produced all over the world, but the English West Country has a particular tradition for scrumpy; a cloudy, unfiltered version of the drink. Hiccup… ABV for ciders here is typically around 8.5%! Thanks for the pic DaveBleasdale


27. Slivovitz, Serbia: A sweet-tasting damson plum brandy, you’ll drink Slivovitz as an aperitif in Serbia and on all special occasions. Shots of Šljivovica are taken from a special glass called the čokanji-čokanjčići. Thanks for the pic nosha


28. Pilsner, Czech Republic: Czech city Pilsen is the home of Pilsner, a pale lager first created in 1842 using a new bottom-fermenting technique. Beer diciples flock here to glug Pilsner Urquell at its birthplace. Thanks for the pic shalbs


29. Canelazo, Ecuador, Columbia and Peru: Served hot at night-time fiestas in the Andes, spicy canelazo is made from aguardiente (sugar cane alcohol), sugar and water boiled with cinnamon. It’s often mixed with naranjilla, mora or maracuyá fruit juice for a fresh kick. Thanks for the pic Laylita.com


30. Airag, Mongolia: Also called kumis (its Russian name), this Mongolian delicacy is made wholly from fermented mare’s milk. It’s served chilled and sipped from saucer-shaped cups called piyala. Thanks for the pic upyernoz


31. Prosecco, Italy: The base of classic Italian cocktails the Bellini and Spritz. In these economically battened-down times, it’s also more and more peoples’ replacement for wedding Champagne. This bit of sparkle’s nothing new to Italians though, who drink it anytime like any other good wine. Thanks for the pic naotakem

Black Balsam

32. Black Balsam, Latvia: Take one whiff of this bitter herbal potion and you won’t be surprised an 18th-century Rigan pharmacist created it. Its medicinal taste means drinking neat’s not for everyone, but most Latvians add it to coffee, hot blackcurrant juice or pour it over ice cream.  Thanks for the pic lostajy

VB Beer

33. VB Beer, Australia: Beer is Australia’s national drink, and Victoria Bitter has held the title of most-sold tinny for over two decades. Chase it with Queensland XXXX Gold and Tooheys New to try the full gamut of Oz’s biggest beers. Thanks for the pic mugley


34. Soju, South Korea: A sweet, vodka-like drink that literally means “burned liquor.” You never pour your own Soju while drinking in a group. If someone says “one shot,” you have to down it, and as soon as you glass is empty it is polite for it to be filled it again – handy. Thanks for the pic grahamhills


35. Poncha, Madeira, Portugal: A cool Madeiran fisherman’s punch that makes use of the island’s yummiest exports. Mix runny honey, fresh lemon juice and aguardente (sugarcane rum) in a pitcher and mix with a mexelhote, a traditional wooden tool with a grooved ball at the end. Thanks for the pic babel-voyages.com

Mount Gay Rum

36. Mount Gay Rum, Barbados: When Captain Jack Sparrow asked “But where is all the rum?” it wouldn’t be inconceivable to think he was talking about Mount Gay – the Bajan distillers are the oldest rum company in the world, with company deeds starting in 1703. Thanks for the pic drewgstephens


37. Orujo, Spain: Brewed in northwest spain, particularly Galicia, Orujo is made from fermented grape skins, seeds and stalks: the leftovers from wine production. You can also infuse it with herbs, as pictured. Thanks for the pic Mr. Theklan

Seco Herrerano

38. Seco Herrerano, Panama: Triple distilled from sugarcane, Seco Herrerano is drunk with milk or as replacement of vodka or rum in Panama. National cocktail the Chichita Panama mixes the drink with grapefruit and pineapple juice. Thanks for the pic TitoSam


39. Krupnik, Poland and Lithuania: A sweet honey vodka liqueur whose recipe was invented by 14th century Benedictine monks (in Nesvizh, Belarus), it’s been drunk in Poland and Lithuania since the 16th century. Thanks for the pic Avatar-1


40. Becherovka, Czech Republic: Czech city Karlovy Vary produces this brand of herbal bitters. Drink it with tonic water and you’re having a beton (BEcherovka + TONic) – the Czech word for “concrete”. Thanks for the pic nickseiger


41. Mirto, Italy: A liqueur made from locally-grown myrtle plants on sunny Sardinia and Corsica, Mirto comes in red (rosso – sweet and made from berries) and white (bianco, made from leaves). Thanks for the pic jerik0ne

Pisco Sour

42. Pisco Sour, Peru: An amber-coloured grape brandy made in Peru and Chile, Pisco is the base ingredient of Peru’s national drinking obsession, the Pisco sour: just add fresh lime juice, syrup, egg white, Angostura bitters and ice. In Chile they’ll use Chilean Pisco, swap the syrup for sugar and take out the bitters. Thanks for the pic twohelmetscooking


43. Tej, Ethiopia: This honey wine is home-made all over Ethiopia and has a light and sweet flavour, similar to mead. Thanks for the pic girlcooksworld.com


44. Arrack, Sri Lanka: Distilled from coconut sap, arrack’s taste falls somewhere between whisky and rum – in Sri Lanka it’s mixed with ginger beer for a refreshing pick-me-up. Thanks for the pic indi.ca


45. Kvass, Russia: Russia’s other national drink is a mildly alcoholic brew made from fermented black or rye bread, water and herbs. You can also add fruit, lemon or ginger to taste. In summer, every neighbourhood has a red or yellow kvass truck to quench local thirst: priyatnogo appetita! Thanks for the pic Mricon


46. Brennivin, Iceland: Affectionately called “Black Death,” this caraway-flavoured Icelandic schnapps has also been referred to as “nasty,” “awful,” and “bleurgh.” It’s meant to be eaten with fermented shark’s head. Whatever floats yer boat, eh. Thanks for the pic Lauren DiSantis


47. Moutai, China: This premium Chinese liquor has a mild, soy sauce-like fragrance. Produced in the town of Maotai, Southwest China, it’s served at Chinese state dinners and is the only alcohol presented as an official gift by embassies in foreign countries  Thanks for the pic Rocky Choi


48. Okolehao, Hawaii: An old Hawaiian moonshine made from the fermented root of the Ti plant, Okolehao is now produced as a sweet, fruity-tasting liqueur by a Maui distillery. Thanks for the pic Paradiseontherocks.com

Pabst Blue Ribbon

49. Pabst Blue Ribbon, USA: This flagging beer brand was revived by anti-mainstream types in Portland, Oregon in the early noughties, and has since become the poster drink for American hipster culture. It’s past its peak in zeitgeist terms, but the legacy lives on in a much-boosted market share. Sip on PBR in Portland, OR or Brooklyn, New York for ultimate effect. Thanks for the pic rob rob 2001

50. Kleiner Feigling, Germany: Called “little coward,” you can buy this fig-flavoured vodka in any German corner store. There’s a special way to drink it, as demonstrated in the video: tap the bottle on the table upside-down to create bubbles in the liquid at its neck, open the bottle, press the lid on your nose, clamp the bottle neck between your teeth and finally tilt your neck back to down the drink.

And the worst local drink in the world…

Sourtoe Cocktail

Sourtoe Cocktail, Canada: Served exclusively at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon, the sourtoe cocktail contains a real human toe. The preserved toe is kept in salt behind the bar, and is dropped in to a challengers’ drink. The one rule is “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow – but the lips have gotta touch the toe.” Lovely! Thanks for the pic Sourtoe Cocktail Club

What local drinks have you tried? Tell me in the comments…

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Thanks to ironypoisining for the hero shot from Flickr. Please note, Flickr images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.

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