Six traditional European tipples to try this year

Here’s a list of local alcoholic beverages to try on your next European jaunt

15 March 2018 - 15:53
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Traditional Greek ouzo
Traditional Greek ouzo
Image: 123RF/antmagn

Nothing says “I’m on holiday” more than a #nofilter Insta-snap against the backdrop of an exotic location (cue ocean-view background), complete with a crimson sunset and a colourful local drink in your hand.

Every holiday destination has its traditional tipple of choice. Sometimes, sharing the local cocktail is so culturally meaningful it can be as important as indulging in a traditional meal. Think pisco sours in Peru, sake in Japan and vodka shots in the Ukraine, for example.

One of the most memorable ways of connecting with locals is to partake responsibly in their drinking traditions, and to learn about the alchemy and cultural significance behind their most famous homegrown drinks.

It’s not just about knocking back a shot of whiskey in Scotland or skulling a glass of wine in France, but more about being open to trying something different, and taking the time to immerse yourself in the customs of others around the world.

Sip sangria in Spain

Most people will already be familiar with the oh-so-easy-to-sip sangria. This fresh, fruity, wine-based cocktail has its roots firmly planted in Spain and is best paired with plates of tapas. This European beverage was made for the summer, especially after a long day exploring cities like Madrid or Granada. Nothing beats the original – served in a pitcher at a local cantina – but it is incredibly easy to recreate at home using red wine, chopped fruit, orange juice, cinnamon and a nip of rum if you dare.

Say “opa!” to Greek ouzo

Taking a swig of ouzo is not just for tourists; it’s a local ritual. This dry, anise-flavoured aperitif (also consumed in Cyprus and Lebanon) is a celebration of a cherished culture: with just one swig, everyone is welcome to join in. This fiery drink it is not for the faint of heart, and although most Greeks would scoff at it being diluted in a mixer, you can ease your tastebuds into it by trying it as a lemonade (ούζο λεμοναδα). Take a bottle home with you to mix with freshly squeezed lemon juice, water, mint leaves and honey.

Limoncello on the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
Image: Supplied

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur produced in southern Italy. Why lemons? Well, lemons are a staple produce in this region, and as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons ... you make lemon liqueur. On your next holiday to Italy, make your way around the Gulf of Naples to the coast of Amalfi and you’ll learn about its legacy, and how Italian families have passed down the secret recipes for many generations. Limoncello is delicious and makes for a superb gift to take back home for friends and family, who can also drizzle it over vanilla ice-cream.

Go for gluhwein

We can’t forget about authentic German gluhwein during a European winter, when the snow begins to fall and the traditional Christmas markets begin to make their appearance, marking the start of the festive season. This citrussy spiced wine (sometimes with an extra shot of rum or amaretto) makes it much easier to spend an extra few hours out in the cold. Pair a glass of this traditional drink with a side of sizzling-hot bratwurst at the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, and there you have it – your new favourite Christmas memory.

Belgian-style fruit beer

A unique beer tour in Bruges, Belgium
A unique beer tour in Bruges, Belgium
Image: BeerTourism.com

For a refreshing take on the classic pint, Belgian fruit beers are not to be missed on your next trip to Europe (especially if you are a bearded craft-beer enthusiast). Traditionally made with sour Morello cherries, the sensational fruity flavours added to the final brew nowadays (also called kriek) includes raspberries (framboise), peaches (pêche) and even blackcurrants (cassis). The spontaneous fermentation of the fruit creates a beer unlike any other with its sour, dry, sweet, earthy and bright flavours, depending on the fruity ingredients.  

Aperol spritzers in Italy

The story goes that Austrians occupying Venice in the early 1800s found Venetian wine too strong, so they diluted it with a spritzen, or a sprinkling of water. In 1920, the Barbieri brothers famously invented Aperol, a bitter, using orange, rhubarb and gentian. This ignited the start of the neon-orange Aperol Spritz, crafted with three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol, one part soda water and, of course, a large green olive as a garnish. Be sure to sample this popular aperitif when you find yourself in the northern reaches of Italy.

So, whether you want to go island hopping in Greece or Croatia, or wind your way through Italy and Spain, Flight Centre has the perfect travel package for you.

This article was paid for by Flight Centre.

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