Having travelled a bit, I can say that I’ve experimented with different alcoholic drinks. Some were bad, some were good, but all were certainly an experience. So to honour the turn of the seasons, and the extra time you’ll be spending inside (supposedly drinking your summer woes away), here are my top 5 drinks that I’ve encountered on my travels:
5. Valhalla Nordic Herbal Liqueur (Finland)
Yes, I went to Finland and didn’t have any Salmiakki or Glögi , though in hindsight, I wish I had. But it was New Year’s Eve, and we wanted to be part of the festivities downtown, in front of City Hall. Only problem is that it’s Finland in January, so needless to say, some hard liquor was as much a necessity as a pair of mittens.
The main reason for getting this concoction was purely based on the brilliant marketing. A drink for the gods? C’monnnn, there’s no way you wouldn’t pick that up. And let me tell you- it keeps you warm. It tastes like a much stronger and more herbal version of Jägermeister. And I hate Jägermeister, so for me to be able to keep drinking this was a true feat of the gods.
To be honest, I’d buy it just for the bottle itself- it looks lovely on a shelf 😉
4. Any Shot from Espit Chupitos (Barcelona)
If you’ve been, then you don’t need to hear any more. But if you haven’t- you’re in for a treat. Espit Chupitos is a very well-known and one of the most creative dive bars in existence (that’s just my opinion). Serving exclusively shots (chupitos=shots), it is technically a chain as I just found out, but the one in Barcelona is small, dark, and has a chalkboard filled with 200 names of shots on the wall. Do you know what’s in these shots? No. Do you care? Hell no. You pick a name, whatever seems to jump out at you, and you let the bartender serve it to you in whichever way is appropriate. Maybe he’ll light it on fire…maybe he’ll light the entire bar on fire (true story), or maybe he’ll just fill a big plastic syringe with the drink and ask you to open your mouth so he can squeeze the drink into it.
I wish I could remember the exact names of all the shots I tried (which were delicious and flaming), but truth is, in that bar, there is only one drink name that you remember- the Monica Lewinsky. Now, I did not try this particular drink, but it sure was fun watching others try it. Enough suspense? All right, all right, let me tell you:
The Monica Lewinsky is so named due to its…let’s say, literal nature. As the patron, you are first blindfolded and given a blond wig. The bartender will then place a dildo on top of a beer bottle (I’m assuming the dildo is hollow inside), and shower it in whipped cream. You, the patron, will be asked to lick the whipped cream. I heard stories of bartenders also giving monologues as “Mr. President” during this time. Eventually, the bartender will spray the beer (after it’s been shaken) into your open mouth. Now that’s what I call dedication to the art.
3. Hot Toddy (Edinburgh, Scotland)
I’ve definitely made these before at home, mainly because I love saying “hot toddy”. I can tell you that the Scots don’t mess around when it comes to their whiskeys, and this was no exception. What’s in a hot toddy, you ask?
Honey Boiling water
OK, so maybe my hot toddys weren’t exactly true to form.. I basically made diluted versions where there was more water and less whiskey. As much as I love a good liquor, I just can’t quite get whiskey. I tried from the cheapest to the most expensive, to the selection winners and the recommended, but I could never quite like it. But when in Scotland, do as the Scots do, right? And I didn’t regret it. But whatever you do, don’t get a cocktail that mixes gin, prosecco and ginger together. From the looks of it, the Royal MacGregor took it out of their drinks menu- and I must’ve been the lucky patron to order one of the last ones. Yayyy…..
2. Michelada (Sausalito, California)
As a true Canadian, one of my favourite drinks is a Caesar. Don’t know about it? Pretty much a bloody mary with clamato instead of tomato juice, and arguably more spice. Don’t judge it before you try it!- it’s delicious. Which was exactly my line of thinking when I first saw this on the menu. The description?
lime, salt, tomato/clamato and spices. BEER
OK? So I asked, and it is basically a caesar, but instead of vodka, you use beer as the alcohol. Sounded intriguing enough, so I ordered it. You even get to choose the beer, but I personally recommend what the waiter recommended to me- Modelo Especial. Though, really, any light beer along the lines of a Corona would do. The waiter brings you the caesar and the beer separately, and pours the beer right into the drink. Let me tell you, anyone who knows me knows my love for caesars, but damn…this was so much better. The beer was not by any means overpowering, and all it did was add carbonation to the drink, which I didn’t even know it was missing! Hands down one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had on “adventurous ordering” experiences.
1. Gin and Tonic (Beefeater Gin Distillery, London, England)
Not my first, I assure you. My absolute favourite drink is a gin and tonic (sometimes in the winter it’s a white Russian), and I was ecstatic to check out the distillery and partake in the tour.
At the end of the tour, I was handed a complimentary gin and tonic. And it may as well have been my first gin and tonic. What have I been doing wrong my entire life while making these drinks? It’s pretty self explanatory: Pour some gin, and then some tonic in a glass. You can be fancy and add ice cubes and limes, but really, it’s not a hard drink to nail. So what was I missing?
Fever Tree Tonic Water. That’s what. Who knew that using “premium” tonic water that was specifically made for gin and tonics would actually matter? I can’t make them any other way now. Just kidding, I totally do, that shit is expensive. BUT if you’re having guests you need to impress, or simply feeling like treating yo self, pick these little bottles up! If you’re from Canada, you will find them in the international foods section. If you’re from outside of Canada- ask someone.
So there it is…some of my more memorable drinking “delicacies” from my travels. I hope that as I travel more, even if it’s within my own country, I can come across more and more interesting cocktails, and maybe even document my inevitable failure in trying to make them (like mapletinis).
If you have any questions, or any drinks that you’d like to feature, let me know in the comments!