Around the World in Spirits

Around the World in Spirits
Must-sip drinks from around the world, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Here’s what the locals are drinking at the watering holes near and far

OT Staff
September 13 , 2020
08 Min Read

Ernest Hemingway once said “if you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars." Our love affair with booze dates back to centuries. And well, we Indians are not prude about booze. We get all the stigmas surrounding drinking and partying, but there’s nothing wrong in having a good time now and then. Be it chugging a pint of beer or tasting red wine, there’s a plethora of spirit options available wherever you go. While some can sweep all your worries away, others can get you wastedespecially if you indulge in one too many glasses. So bottoms up as we take a look at some of the local specialities. (PS: These aren’t for the faint-hearted. Would you dare to take a sip?)    

Soju, Korea

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A clear, low-alcohol, distilled spirit, soju is Korea’s national drink. It has a striking resemblance to vodka, sans the harsh alcoholic burns, but more vicious and sweeter. Soju has remained the underdog in the spirit world for quite some time now. However, lately this drink is gaining increasing traction. Often consumed straight with food, it can also be mixed into cocktails. Traditional soju is made from a blend of rice and grains. Next time you’re in Seoul, make sure to hit a ‘soju bar’. 

Mekhong, Thailand

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It won’t be an exaggeration to call mekhong the gateway to Thai culture. The first hard liquor produced in the kingdom, mekhong’s secret formula is as closely held as Coco Cola’s. Made to compete against European scotches, bourbons and whiskeys that were taking over the market, the herbal taste of mekhong was concocted specifically for the Siamese palate. The smooth flavour of spicy ginger, toffee, citrus and vanilla, all fuse together to create a well-balanced drink. Mekhong can be enjoyed straight, with a mixer, or in cocktails and even perfectly complements spicy Thai food. 

Pisco, Peru

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A sour alcoholic cocktail of Peruvian origin, pisco is the subject of a long standing dispute. Well, while we’ve left the Peruvians and Chileans to resolve the debate, we’d rather enjoy a sip of this tangy drink meanwhile. A spirit most similar to brandy, it is the national drink of both the countries and hence the source of a lot of angst. We’d suggest sampling pisco sour. Here’s a word to the wiseit can be a bit too much handle after a round or two. 

Raki, Turkey

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The Turkish raki is a clear brandy made from grapes and raisins, and flavoured with pungent anise. The Turks consider raki to be their national drink. When mixed with ice and/or water for drinking, it turns milky white. Because of its color and hefty alcoholic punch, it’s called lion’s milk. However, beware of bootleg raki. It is believed that the illegal manufacture of this liquor is mostly due to the high taxes. While some drink raki straight, others mix it with chilled water.

Mamajuana, Dominican Republic

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A blend of rum, spices and honey, this typical drink of the Dominican Republic was originally a health tonic. Rumoured to be an aphrodisiac drink, it eventually became a folk tipple. The rum, red wine, and honey mixture is soaked in a bottle with various tree barks and herbs. Most households have their own recipes. Some versions even include ginger, cinnamon and vanilla. In all likelihood, you’ll be welcomed into the town of Punta Cana with this drink.

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