While India is famous for its rich culture and diversity, it is also known for some of the most potent alcoholic drinks that will put any other fancy alcohol to shame. They are also loaded with pro- and pre-biotics thanks to all the fermentation. While most of these are an acquired taste, we do recommend tasting these Indian drinks at least once. Happy hour, anyone?
Palm wine or palm toddy is one of the most common local alcoholic beverages and south Indian speciality. Made with fermented coconut sap, small shanties can been seen selling bottles of these. The way the sap is extracted is almost art-form and we urge you not to try it, leave it to the pros. Toddy may not be the most potent but has a sour taste and is versatile in nature.
While fancy rum may be your go-to these winters, chhaang is ours. A common Himalayan beverage, chhang is made of finger millets which are boiled, dried and left to ferment for a couple of months. Also known as the beer of the Himalayas, chhaang is used by the Lepcha community in Sikkim as an offering to their gods and goddesses. The ale like taste of this local drink is what makes it especially delectable in the cold weather.
Made from fermented rice or barley, this local alcoholic beverage made a special appearance in ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’. Found exclusively in the snow clad mountains of the Himalayas, Lugdi is perhaps one of the best ways to drink the cold away. A crude beer of sorts, this drink will put all other alcoholic beverages to shame.
Urak and Feni
If you go to Goa and don’t try Urak it will be a trip wasted. Also known as the Goan jungle juice, urak is the first distillation from fermented cashew apple juice. Urak tastes especially delicious with Limca and a couple of green chilies, it’s a weird combination but it is worth it. Another name that you will hear echoing in the streets of Goa, is feni which is obtained from the second distillation of the fermented cashew apple juice. While both of these are an acquired taste, they should definitely be on your list of things to try in Goa.
Read | On a Feni trail in Goa
Apo or apong is popular alcoholic drink in northeastern India. Made from fermented rice, this drink is a favourite among the Nyishi people whose celebrations of Nyokum are incomplete without apo. Following tradition, the Nyishi people drop a few drops of apo on the ground every time they drink it to feed it to the spirits. Often served in bamboo shoots, this drink is a must try. apo is common in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Native to Tripura, chuak is an absolute fruity surprise made with jackfruit and pineapple. Chuak is often consumed on social occasions by the people of Tripura as a ritual.
Mahua flowers are absolutely gorgeous. Found aplenty in Odisha, Bengal, and Jharkhand, they have a variety of uses. The wine made from mahua packs quite a flowery surprise: it is equal parts sweet and pungent. It is packaged in coloured glass bottles for longevity. The mahua tree also has medicinal properties which makes these flowers a treasured commodity.