22 Responses

  1. Suthnautr
    Suthnautr at |

    As a one time NYC bartender (for 18 years) I'm familiar with some of these beverages. I even set up and managed a Korean bar (Korea Palace, 54th between Park Ave & Lexington) for a year and a half. There's also Green Soju, which is supposed to be all natural.

    While Greeks certainly love Ouzo, the drink they've been drinking for 2000 years is Retsina, a white or rose wine made with pine resin added to it.

    The ritual drinking of Sake (warmed to body temperature) dates to great antiquity, but few know of a certain ritual prior to lovemaking where the woman, naked, holds her knees together and her lap is filled with heated Sake to be drunk by her lover.

    While I was visiting Carrigtwohill in County Cork Ireland, my father was served Poitín in their local style (at that time it was still illegal). They said they added a little flower that grows by the side of the road to their Poitín, but otherwise either malted barley or potatoes are used. Malted simply means that the seed is allowed to sprout in order for the seed to release "maltose" (sugar) into the young plant, which is then dried, ground up, mixed with water and yeast, fermented (into a kind of a beer) and then finally distilled into high proof liquor.

    Ethiopian Tej is in fact Mead. At one time we all drank Mead, but Ethiopia has kept the custom alive as a national drink far longer than European nations. Planting grapes in Rome meant uprooting forests where bees build their hives, so Mead fell out of fashion there, while the Germans and later the Vikings continued fermenting Mead for close to another thousand years, and it can still be ordered in many German locals (taverns & bars). Vikings used to "ice distill" mead in winter, leaving it outside in the cold and removing the ice that formed inside the barrel all winter long until spring when all that was left was very high proof mead indeed. The custom of the Honeymoon comes from drinking honey wine for an entire month (a moon) after marriage in the belief that this would help guarantee the birth of a son. This belief has been shown to have a scientific basis, as mead alters the pH of the body in such a way as to produce higher male sperm content.

    Not personally familiar with Ghana's Palm Wine, I do know something of the Ashanti. Ghana is divided into two climate regions, the north having just one rainy season, and the south, two. Of the tribes of Ghana, the Ashanti have always been considered the most powerful, and famous for resisting British Imperialism in the Hundred Years War.

  2. Ruby
    Ruby at |

    What about Scotch? I am shocked…

    But yes ouzo is pretty nice, so is retsina, recently went to greece and spent a fair amount of time 'sampling' these delights!

  3. Berni
    Berni at |

    Missing Germany makes this list obsolete…

    1. Suthnautr
      Suthnautr at |

      "Missing Germany…" I had thought the exact same thing, only "incomplete" would be the word I'd choose.

      Maybe it's precisely because Germany is already so famous – so many different types of beer that you could drink a different one at breakfast, lunch and dinner for an entire year and still not run out of new ones to try… Schnapps, Jaegermeister, GoldSchlaeger, Kuemmel… and wines like Gewuerztraminer… Obviously a huge drinking country – where an average of 50 drinks per person are consumed per week (about the same as in Scotland).

      What you say is true too, Ruby, but again, Scotch is so well known already that, although it's completely unique because it uses an open pot distillation method. This means that the pot still is left open so the oily smoke from the burning peat used to heat the wort is allowed to enter into the process, creating that distinct Scotch taste. Single malts, single glens, so much about Scotch that makes it exciting.

      But this list could only show ten – and so they had to be out of the way, less familiar to us, as Americans, rather than the stuff we are already most familiar. I was disappointed (after all, who doesn't love German beer?) but I understand why the author had to leave them out.

    2. Jaze
      Jaze at |

      Not having Germany and Belgium on this makes it obsolete. I mean seriously what about Belgium Abby Beer!!!!!!!!!! These two countries are the most famous in the world for beer.

  4. Ben
    Ben at |

    Suthnautr – Really good feedback for this list of countries to drink the local alcohol and nice commentary on why Germany may have been left off of this list. Hard to believe and seemingly an obvious choice but I like your reasoning. It seems the author may have been focusing on alcohol other than beer as well.

  5. Nick
    Nick at |

    The topic headline of this article really, really sucks. But good article nonetheless.

  6. Sid
    Sid at |

    Where's Russia in all this? Russians rank #1 and consumes more alcohol than any other country in the world (double the consumption of the US). I think they should be somewhere on this list!!!

  7. Papshmir
    Papshmir at |

    What about Portugal and his famous worlwide Porto wine ???

  8. josh
    josh at |

    Belgian beer is the best.

    Too bad you missed that country on your list.

    Almost 200 different breweries, 400 different types of regularly brewed beer and 8700 different types available.

  9. Kyle
    Kyle at |

    Add the Philippines' San Miguel Beer. They say you can't go there and not drink this beer.

  10. Cameron
    Cameron at |

    You should include Guatemalan Rum… Its amazing! Its aged 23 years and it has won the award for best Rum in the world sevral times

  11. maddog
    maddog at |

    Tequila, even in Mexico, is way overpriced. There are excellent mezcals all over, including Sotol (in Chihuahua) and Barcanora (in Sonora). These are at least as good as tequilas and much cheaper since they don't have the name. Tequla is just mezcal made from the blue agave, there are many other agaves that are just s good. Mexico also makes excellent brandy, which is what they used to drink before the gringos made tequila so popular. They have excellent wines, and several interesting liqueurs such as ixtla bentun and datura, and some great beers like Tecate, Modelo dark, and (only in Yucatan) Leon.

    You can also still get the horrible two dollar a gallon tequila, although it's about five dollars now. Worth every peso. Comes in a plastic jug shaped like a beehive.

  12. Samhain
    Samhain at |

    Calling sake rice wine is inaccurate. Unlike true wine, in which alcohol is produced by fermenting the sugar naturally present in fruit, sake is made through a brewing process more like that of beer. To make beer or sake, the sugar needed to produce alcohol must first be converted from starch. But the brewing process for sake differs from beer brewing as well, notably in that for beer, the conversion of starch to sugar and sugar to alcohol occurs in two discrete steps, but with sake they occur simultaneously.

    In reality, sake is a high alcohol specialty beer. Nothing like wine at all.

  13. Kate
    Kate at |

    I really liked this list! I wish I could try them a little more easily…

    (A tiny, semi-geeky but important note: Socrates was given the choice of drinking lethal hemlock, or simply leaving Athens and stop teaching philosophy. I know you kept it brief for diction/syntax’s sake but still!)

    Moar multicultural articles…moarrrrr!

  14. Snail
    Snail at |

    I think it's worth mentioning that Soju (South Korea) is cheaper than bottled water, and is available from juice box style cartons upto 5 litre bottles!

  15. taramarriee
    taramarriee at |

    If you want beer come to Australia, lol. Same with fine wines.

  16. M.A.J.
    M.A.J. at |

    Tej is a wonderful drink in Ethiopia. I do dislike the commentary on this though. Ethiopia was “Once synonymous with misery.” Check history, it’s much more than that. Second, “Reaping the benefits of democracy.” Meles, Ethiopia’s current president, is a dictator just like Mubarak.

  17. Jamescox
    Jamescox at |

    Ouzo is probably the most discusting thing I have ever drank, right after norwegian moonshine and Raki..

  18. Lachlan
    Lachlan at |

    Scotland:- for many types of blended whisky, grain whisky and single malt whisky.

    Germany for wheat beer and various other beer types.

    Belgium for over 200 types of beer, including Trappiste and fruit-flavoured styles.

    Philippines for lambanog spirit, Tanduay Rum, San Miguel and Red Horse beers.

  19. Lachlan
    Lachlan at |

    …. and Indonesia for Bir Bintang and Anker Bir.

  20. Mistress of the Obvious
    Mistress of the Obvious at |

    Where’s the prickly-pear fruit liquor from Malta. (Can’t remember what it was called.) The street vendors always call the tourists to “have a drink with them” to get a sale. Well worth the price! I also drank local Maltese wine and would also recommend it as well.


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