The best kind of drinking and dining is when you can go on an adventure. When you can associate a place, a time, or a story with a delicious entree or a tasty drink, it really sticks in your mind. Sometimes you remember that dining experience for years on end as one of the best of your life!
And while sipping a margarita in Mexico or having genuine sake in Japan would be ideal, it’s just not possible for most of us to travel the world this year.
But the good news is you can still “taste the world” by sampling some of the best drinks from around the world, without spending much more than your average bar tab.
In this article, we’re going to list some of the “must try” alcoholic beverages while visiting the hottest vacationing spots in the world.
1. The Spicy Margarita
Sí, everyone thinks of margaritas and tequila when vacationing in Mexico. But a true “spicy margarita” calls for more than tequila and margarita mix. The best way to make a spicy margarita is to add half a jalapeno pepper to the tequila pitcher (holding about ¾ cup of high-quality tequila).
Let it sit for about a half hour. Now, take a boiled cup of “simple syrup” (1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water) and add it to the hot tequila mix, along with 1⁄4 cup of Cointreau or Triple Sec orange liqueur, lime juice, and some freshly squeezed orange juice. Salt the glasses with “chili salt” and add fresh lime slices and jalapenos before dropping some ice.
2. Aged Rice Wine
While there are many variations between different Asian countries (Korea, Japan, and China have their own variations), the actual process involved in creating rice wine is easy. All you need is two cups of rice (glutinous or sticky) and one wine yeast ball, also called Qu or Shanghai Yeast Balls.
Simply make the rice and then let it steam. Once the rice is done steaming, spread it on a cooking sheet so that it has time to cool. Fermentation happens when you crush the yeast ball and crush it into powder and then sprinkle it into the rice. Mix well and make sure the rice is just about room temperature or a little warmer.
Put the new mix into an airtight container and keep it at a warm temperature of about 100 degrees. The liquid at the bottom is rice wine and it will have a strong fruity taste at first. The longer it ferments, the sweeter it becomes. Total fermentation time takes about a month.
3. Traditional Irish Coffee
Irish up your coffee like they do in Ireland, but add one cup of hot coffee to one tablespoon of brown sugar, three tablespoons of Irish whiskey, and slightly whipped heavy cream. You can also add ½ ounce of Kalua and shaved chocolate to get a stronger flavor.
Depending on who you ask, Irish Coffee may have been invented in San Francisco, even though the recipe may also have been based on Gaelic Coffee from Ireland, as this article suggests.
Russian Kvasya is traditional kvass (fermented cereal-based alcohol known to be sour) mixed with vodka and cinnamon. Start with about an ounce of kvass and two teaspoons of vodka and one teaspoon of cinnamon syrup. You can’t find kvass at the local grocery store, but try Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
Jagertree is distinctly German and Austrian and makes excellent use of rum. Simply add one cup of everything, such as black tea, spiced rum, red wine, plum brandy, (or schnapps), and orange juice together. Warm for 5-10 minutes as you add 3 whole cloves, ¼ of a cinnamon stick, two slices of lemon. Add sugar if needed. It’s the perfect drink for a cold night!
6. Paris, France – The Famous French 75
A drink so strong it was named after the 75mm gun! Combine one ounce of London Dry Gin with one ounce of lemon juice and half an ounce of simple syrup. Combine with ice and shake well. Strain it and then add sparkling wine with a float of pastis on top, if available.
Why not sample a famous North American drink – in fact, the very flavor of New York City, one of the busiest cities in the world? The Manhattan started in 1880 and combined American whiskey and Italian vermouth.
While there are many variations on the drink, the simple way to remember it is that it’s two fluid ounces of rye whiskey, one half fluid ounce of sweet vermouth, and just a sprinkle of Angostura bitters. Stir in together, add ice, and then top with a maraschino cherry!
If you’re visiting the States, you can always find a restaurant in New York that will serve Manhattans along with some of New York’s finest international entrees.
8. The Real Mojito
The Mojito was originally Cuban medicinal “moonshine”, and its distinctive tastes are lime, mint, and sugar cane syrup. Start by stirring together fresh berries (about 10) and fresh mint leaves (about 7) in a glass and then combine with club soda, one ounce of lime juice, and one and a half ounces of (real!) Cuban rum and crushed ice.
9. Singapore Sling
The Singapore Sling actually started as a surreptitious way of freshening up tea and juice – the choice of women who were either forbidden from or too embarrassed to order alcoholic beverages. Ngiam Tong Boon started mixing gin into fruit juices, like pineapple and lime. You can also add cherry brandy or grenadine to mask the alcoholic taste.
Speaking of sweet drinks, there’s nothing sweeter than malt, which is distinctly American and sold all over the place in the U.S. Besides DIY parties at home, here are some of the best occasions for a malternative beverage.
Taste and Place
The best kind of drinks and dinners are all about the experience – not just the taste. It’s the same reason we eat a burger while watching Bob’s Burgers, or eat real Italian spaghetti while watching Goodfellas. And who can forget drinking some fine Merlot and Pinot when watching the film Sideways?
Taste is always related to what our minds are taking in. So if you can’t travel the world right this second, the next best thing is to sample some of the best drinks from around the world in your own home.
And hey, it all goes down smoother while watching the Travel Channel or taking a virtual tour of a vacation spot!
Tiara Budd lives in New York and is determined to eat (and Instagram!) her way through the city. In her free time she loves exploring new neighborhoods, reading books from the library, and traveling all around the country.