Some drinks are synonymous with their place of origin. While it’s never in poor taste to sip a little limoncello in, say, Thailand (in fact, that sounds like a great way to spend an evening), the popular lemon liqueur is so iconic that it’s practically a symbol of southern Italy. Ditto for vodka and Russia, or Champagne and France.
In the United States, we have plenty of our own archetypal regional drinks: The Sonoma Valley, the birthplace of the California wine industry, is where people go to enjoy the regions reds, white, and rosés. The Midwest is known for its beer-making prowess. And Kentucky holds the bourbon barrel crown.
Certain cities are even associated with particular cocktails — Louisville is known for its classic Mint Julep while New Orleans is famous for its Sazerac. Allegedly, legendary Louisiana Governor and Senator Huey Long once decided that the New York bartenders did such a terrible job adulterating this New Orleans staple that he simply had to have his favorite bartender flown up from New Orleans to make him a proper cocktail and wash the taste of a Yankee Sazerac out of his mouth.
Likewise, countries around the world proudly serve the drinks that reflect their own cultural traditions and favorite local flavors. While a few of these are deeply familiar (we bet you’ll be able to guess Ireland’s pick without too much trouble), others may surprise you — one especially unusual, but very traditional, spirit is made from fermented milk (but not cow, goat, or even sheep’s milk).
Check out our list and tweet us the quintessential cocktail, wine, beer, or spirit that a traveler should have when visiting your country.
Australia – Victoria Bitter
Australia is a beer-drinking country (ok, wine-drinking, too—Penfold’s might be a close second for most-iconic-drink in the land down under), and VB is the classic Australian beer, accounting for one third of all beer sales in the country. But while Foster’s may own VB, nobody in Australia actually drinks those ridiculous, gigantic Foster’s cans. A schooner of VB it is, mate.
China – Baijiu
It’s likely that you’ve never heard of the Chinese liquor baijiu, but this 1,000-year-old beverage is actually the most-consumed spirit in the world. Traditionally derived from sorghum, baijiu can also be made with rice, and it’s sometimes infused with fruits, spices — or even snakes. Baijiu has started to be exported to America — expect to see it populating more liquor store shelves this year — and we’ll see how this admittedly acquired taste from China plays on American palates.