Even if a voyage to Peru or an adventure in Scandinavia isn't in your immediate future, you can still experience the unique flavors of eight different countries around the world. Every nation produces its own unique alcoholic beverages that are inspired by local ingredients and historic production methods. With ingredients as diverse as rye bread, eucalyptus and sweet potato, these eight alcoholic drinks will bring a new spirit of exoticism to your liquor cabinet.
Which came first... the color or the French liqueur? As it turns out, Chartreuse, the herbaceous liqueur produced exclusively by French monks came into production almost 150 years before people started using its name to refer to a shade of yellowish green. Although the monks recently moved production of the liqueur a distillery near Grenoble, the brothers still provide the unique combination of 130 herbs that gives this liqueur its distinctive grassy flavor.
Adorned with an illustration of a serious Scandinavian fisherman, Fisk is a strong Danish liqueur that will clear your sinuses better than your favorite cold medication. The base of Fisk is high-quality vodka, which is then blended with a mix of eucalyptus, menthol and black licorice to produce an invigorating 30% alcohol beverage. Fisk is best served as an ice-cold shot, although its most passionate fans enjoy sipping it at room temperature.
Ice Wine, Canada
Winter in Canada brings sub-zero temperatures, mind-blowing blizzards and the ideal conditions for producing sweet, syrupy ice wine. Ice wine is made from grapes that have frozen while they're still on the vine. Because the water inside the grape freezes first, vinters can squeeze the frozen grapes to extract a more concentrated (and therefore sweeter) grape juice. Canadian vineyards produce red, white, rosé and evening sparkling ice wines.
A popular drink across Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union, kvass is a lightly-alcoholic sparkling beverage made from fermented rye bread. Because it usually contains less than 1% alcohol, kvass is often served to children as well as adults. If you are traveling in Eastern Europe, be on the lookout for women selling fresh kvass from large barrels on the side of the road; you can purchase a bottle to take home or enjoy a glass for as little as ten cents.
Licor 43, Spain
Spain may be best known for its rich red wines, but that doesn't mean its liqueurs should be overlooked. One of the most popular liqueurs in Spain is the golden-hued Licor 43, which is made from a secret blend of fruit juices and herbs, which are then combined with vanilla. It is delicious when poured into iced coffee, mixed with cold milk or shaken with orange juice.
Pisco is essentially Peruvian brandy, with an alcohol content of 38-48%. It is made from grapes grown in vineyards along Peru's Pacific Coast. Pisco has won international awards for its sweet and light aftertaste. Peru's most famous cocktail, the Pisco Sour, is made from pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, ice, frothy egg whites and bitters.
Not for the faint of heart, Mexican pulque is made from the sap of the agave plant. It is fermented for up to two weeks, using a bacteria instead of yeast. Pulque is often a rural drink, with local families closely guarding their production techniques and selling their homemade pulque from stalls in front of their homes. The finished product is bright white, somewhat gooey, and quite sour.
Everybody knows about Korean soju and Japanese sake, but fewer have tried Japanese shochu. Shochu can be distilled from all kinds of traditional Japanese ingredients, including barley, rice, buckwheat and even sweet potatoes. The finished product is a moderate 25% alcohol and has a distinctly earthy flavor. Shochu is enjoyed neat, on the rocks, with hot water or even mixed with oolong tea.
Most of these alcoholic beverages can be found at a well-stocked liquor store, though you may need to speak to a specialist importer if you're having trouble finding them locally. If you absolutely can't find one of these drinks in your home country, you'll just have to book a flight!
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