From shots of the most potent sake to the humble mug of tea, if there’s one thing that unites us all it’s our love of sharing a pint or cuppa, and raising a toast at the end of the day. Whether weird and wonderful rituals, rowdy drunken ditties or a simple, refreshing beverage with friends, drinking customs and traditions are at the heart of every culture.
For those who love to explore through their taste-buds, dealchecker has compiled the ultimate Bucket List of drinks to sample from all corners of the globe. To know a country is to know its drink – so pull up a bar stool, adjust your beer goggles, and take a big slurp…
1. Watch the sun go down on a deserted Thai beach whilst sipping on a traditional Siam Sunray, a cocktail made from lemongrass and red chillies that really packs a punch.
2. There is no better way to soak in the natural wonder of the Nepalese landscape than to take it all in whilst slurping down a wooden pot of Tungba. An alcoholic drink produced using millet and hot water, Tungba is always drunk through a straw – ideal for reaching those tasty dregs.
3. It is estimated that the average South Korean adult consumes 90 bottles a year of Soju, the country’s most popular alcoholic beverage – a visit is never complete until you have clinked Soju glasses with the locals!
4. Honour Japan’s forefathers and toast them with a glass of Nihonshu. Although sake is widely considered to be the country’s tipple of choice, the word in fact refers to any alcoholic drink in Japanese.
5. Prepare for a taste explosion and sample Brunei’s national drink, ABC. Made by blending ice, sago pearls, red beans, noodles and grass jelly, this colourful concoction must be seen to be believed.
6. Join a Russian drinking session and grab yourself a frothing pint of Kvass, a liquor made from fermented bread. Any social gathering in Russia involves rambling anecdotes, dodgy punchlines, and piling up empty glassware beneath the table.
7. For the ultimate way to enjoy a drink in style, head to the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore for a traditional Singapore Sling. Make sure you complete the ritual by tucking into a handful of peanuts and leaving the shells on the floor.
8. Get into the spirit of things and celebrate Chinese New Year with the locals and a shot or two of Baijiu – make sure not to offend any elders by always holding your glass lower than theirs.
9. As much as you would suspect otherwise, the Mongolians insist that their local delicacy of Airag (fermented mare’s milk) is the only beverage of choice. Take a sip if you dare, and earn your place in a Mongolian drinking circle.
10. Intrepid explorers the world over swap stories of bravely downing shots of Laos and Vietnam’s infamous Snake Wine. Fermented over many years and infused with venom, this is possibly the king of acquired tastes.
11. Spice up your breakfast routine and slurp up a warming mug of elephant dung coffee in Cambodia – try not to let the smell put you off!
12. Long considered the ultimate Indian delicacy, tea is now being overthrown by an invasion of western coffee chains in its country of origin. Reject Starbucks, and celebrate the king of beverages by sipping a steaming cupful of Assam!
13. Even the most dedicated caffine drinkers are reluctant to try Vietnam’s coffee speciality – produced using beans which have been digested and then excreted by weasels. The locals insist this results in a rich and earthy flavour, but most travellers need a lot more convincing!
14. Spicy and invigorating, Fiji’s traditional Kava is a vital part of the national identity. It is said that the spirit used to be produced only by virgins, who pre-chewed the root of the pepper plant into a pulp to accelerate the fermentation process – tasty!
15. Popular opinion states that you are not truly experiencing Australia until you have an ice cold can of Fosters in hand. However, any local will tell you that the nation’s real beverage of choice is the lesser-known VB Beer – grab a bottle and hit the beach.
16. Kick back in the Cook Islands with a glass of Tumunu, a traditional drink made from fermented oranges, topped off with ice to totally chill you out.
17. A trip to New Zealand can never be complete without swigging down a bottle of the nation’s beloved Lemon and Paeroa (L&P). For the full Kiwi experience, enjoy a refreshing drink sat next to the giant L&P monument in Paeroa town.
18. For the ultimate in fresh food, shimmy up a palm tree in Papua New Guinea and pick yourself a nice, juicy coconut – hack into it and all you need is a straw!
North and America and the Caribbean
19. Unwind at the end of the day like a true Jamaican, and kick back on the beach with an ice-cold bottle of Red Stripe.
20. It is impossible to visit Canada and not be aware of the country’s fascination with a drink that to the rest of world, seems like it really shouldn’t exist. Clamato, created using tomato juice and clam broth, is said to reflect a traditional Venetian spaghetti dish. Unsurprisingly, almost 100% of Clamato’s sales occur within Canada.
21. Taste a slice of history as you enjoy a glass of Mount Gay Rum, the oldest spirit brand in Barbados.
22. There’s not a bartender on Earth who whips up a Mojito quite like the Cubans. Enjoy the fresh, zingy flavour famed the world over and propose a toast to the drink’s alleged creator, Sir Francis Drake.
23. Despite what the British say, the best place on earth to settle down to afternoon tea is Bermuda, where the ritual has become a true national institution and is observed daily.
24. Call yourself a meat lover? Why not sample the USA’s latest addition to the drinks market – Bacon Vodka. Made by infusing vodka with the essence of peppered bacon strips, this is the kind of flavour that can only be consumed in shots…
25. Add a touch of class to your evening drink in Hawaii, and head to the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel for a traditional Mai Tai.
Central and South America
26. Separate yourself from the usual Tequila shot-downing tourists in Mexico, and sip it elegantly from a crystal glass with the local connoisseurs.
27. Breathe in the sweet scent of a steaming mug of Canelazo in Ecuador. Best enjoyed during an after-dark celebration, this is a welcome warmer made with boiled sugarcane and cinnamon.
28. Sweet-toothed travellers will be in heaven with a glass of Guyana’s Peanut Punch – a syrupy delight made from peanut butter, milk and sugar.
29. Swigging on a glass of Brazil’s sugarcane spirit Cachaca is the best way to while away a sunset-framed evening – however, you might not even know you’ve ordered it as this national favourite has over 2000 nicknames!
30. Join the locals for a taste of Argentina’s popular, caffine rich drink Mate, which is passed around and sipped through a communal straw.
31. If you find yourself in Chile, kicking back with a cold Pisco Sour is an absolute must. Made by combining Pisco spirit and egg white, this unusual cocktail sounds as if it shouldn’t work, but definitely does.
32. Get back to nature in Bolivia with a refreshing pint of Chicha, a drink made from fermented grains. It is considered bad luck to drink Chicha alone, and before taking a sip it is customary to pour a splash on the floor for Pachamama, the Quechua equivalent of Mother Nature.
33. Originally used as viagra, the juice of frogs native to islands on Peru’s Lake Titicaca has now become somewhat of a delicacy… yes, really.
34. Smoothie lovers will delight in a glass of Afghanistan’s ever-popular Dugh, a refreshing treat made from yoghurt and rose water – the perfect cooling antidote to the beating, midday sun.
35. What could be more Turkish than a shot of Raki? Often referred to as ‘Lion’s Milk’, this powerful spirit is said by Turks to heal the heart and soothe the mind.
36. Earthy, tangy and produced using anise, Iraq’s traditional beverage Arak is an acquired taste, but well worth getting to know.
37. Combat the steady heat of a day in Kazakhstan by swigging on a cooling glass of camel milk. This national delicacy is commonly drunk in the country’s dessert regions, and readily offered to tourists.
38. If you love your coffee with an extra kick then be sure to sample a cup in the UAE. The country is renowned amongst its neighbours for being partial to black coffee so strong, it’ll knock your socks off.
39. Swig back a Finnish Sahti – the country’s beloved national drink. This berry flavoured ale is such a crucial part of Finland’s heritage, that the national poem features more references to its origin than to that of the Finns themselves.
40. With over 400 varieties of beer, Belgium is the unlikely producer of a vast amount of the world’s favourite drink. If you are feeling particularly religious, sample a Trappist Beer, traditionally brewed in a monastery.
41. Soak yourself in an Icelandic spa and enjoy a tumbler of Brennivin. As any local will tell you, be sure to hold it at just the right height – too low and the spirit will be warmed by the steam, too high and your hand will freeze!
42. Rub shoulders with the aristocracy, and sip a glass of Pimms at a traditional English polo match.
43. Northern Spain is famed for its traditionally brewed Sidre, but by far the best way to experience it is within a local Sideria, where the floors are scattered with straw and the Sidre poured by expert waiters from a great height to aerate it. Note that when drinking in Spain, there is never a ‘last drink’ only a ‘penultimate’ one, as the last is thought to be the final one of your life!
44. To tuck into breakfast the Danish way, pair your Cheerios with a shot of Gammel Dansk, a 38% proof spirit – raise a toast over toast!
45. We all love a bit of Prosecco, but the Italians take the drink very seriously, and rarely ever have a glass without a full meal. Make sure you’re extra hungry before taking part in any traditional feast!
46. If you like your drinks fast and frequent, head to a Dutch bar and order a whisky. Traditionally drunk using the ‘headbutt method’, which involves bending from the waist to take a sip, and then chasing with a pint of beer, you won’t stay upright for long.
47. Prepare to get rowdy if you drink with the Swedes! Known for their bawdy and rambling drinking songs, Swedish locals love nothing more than a right knees up and several glasses of Snaps!
48. Be sure to bring a buddy when getting a round in in Poland, where shots are always ordered in pairs to ensure both parties are equally wobbly on the walk home!
49. Even hardcore travellers shy away from Montenegro’s eye-wateringly potent Rakija, a spirit flavoured with herbs and drunk in shots before a meal as appetisers.
50. If you like your beverages hot and strong, they don’t come hotter or stronger than Norway’s traditional mug of Ni-Seks. An incredibly potent spirit combined with the blackest of black coffee, a dirty coin is thrown into the mix for good measure – tempting!
51. Uganda is famed for its fiery Banana Gin, and there is no better way to get to know the locals than to join them in a drinking session. Although perfectly safe for the most part, due to illegal gin home-brewing much of Uganda’s banana trade has been forced underground.
52. You haven’t truly experienced South Africa until you have sampled a glass of Amarula. Produced using the fruit of the Marula tree, this creamy liqueur is said to be the chosen libation of the local wildlife, who deliberately intoxicate themselves by eating fermented Marula fruit – that’s what you call a party animal.
53. Red Bush Tea is a common sight along the aisles of British supermarkets, but why not sample a cup in its country of origin, Botswana.
54. What better way to welcome the Egyptian sunset than with a glass of exotic Kardakay, a subtly pink drink made from fresh hibiscus flowers.
55. Keeping cool in the burning Namibian sun is a lot easier when chilling out with a friend and bottle of Mataku, a traditional wine made from watermelon – refreshing and relaxing!
56. Until fairly recently, most drinking establishments (Shebeens) were run by women in South Africa – make your beer experience more authentic by pulling up a stool at the tavern of a local Shebeen Queen.
57. For those brave enough to try, sampling a shot of Cape Verde’s spirit of choice, Aguardiente, is definitely the way to gain the respect of the locals. Literally translating as ‘firewater’, this potent tipple is absolutely not for the fainthearted!