I love exploring traditional cocktails around the world because they feature local ingredients, spirits I’m not familiar with and sometimes linked to local legends.
Sure it’s great to find taste the local flavours but I also love knowing WHY this cocktail exists, how it became the most popular cocktail and how it’s changed.
Best Cocktails Around the World
Of course I have a long list of drinks I love, especially in Latin America. But I reached out to travel bloggers to share their favourites as well.
I’ve separated the list of cocktails around the world by spirit and each contributor has shared some background information on why it exists along with where to get it locally or how to make it.
If we’ve missed an international cocktail that needs to be on this list please let me know in the comments below.
You know I wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to try a new drink!
Mojito – Cuba
Without a doubt the Cuban cocktail of choice for tourists is the mojito.
It’s not common to see Cubans drinking them, most often they drink rum straight or with one ice cube.
But every once in a while you’ll see a Cuban at a restaurant indulging in this very simple drink that uses local rum, sugar, lime and of course fresh mint.
Although Ernest Hemingway is famous for drinking a special kind of daiquiri (more on that below) others say he helped invent the mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio.
I highly doubt this but La Bodeguita del Medio has fantastic marketing and uses this ploy to get tourists in its doors for what will likely be the weakest but most expensive mojito you’ll have in Cuba.
Rum Swizzle – Bermuda
While visiting Bermuda be sure to try Rum Swizzle, a rum-based cocktail often called Bermuda’s national drink.
It is usually made with rum, fruit juice which is often a mix of lime, orange and pineapple juice, along with a flavored sweetener such as falernum which is a syrupy liqueur that contains ginger, lime, almond and spices. These days grenadine is also added to it.
They created the cocktail in a pitcher using the swizzle stick from the swizzle stick tree. ‘This would agitate the drink and make it foamy. And that’s how the original Rum swizzle in Bermuda was created.
The drink is generally stirred with ice and Gosling’s Rum is used. Gosling’s Rum. The swizzle stick is not!
Other islands outside of Bermuda have also tried to stake their claim as the inventors of the Rum Swizzle – islands including Saint Kitts and Barbados and a few other Caribbean islands.
The Swizzle Inn is known as “the home of the Rum Swizzle” and claims to have invented Bermuda’s favorite drink. It still remains a drinking hole frequented by locals for their rum swizzle fix.
While it is available at all restaurants in Bermuda, we loved our Rum Swizzles at Devil’s Isle café.
By Priya at Outside Suburbia
Piña Colada – Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is the birthplace for rum, and coincidentally, it is also the birthplace for the world-famous piña colada.
There are two “official” versions of how piña colada was invented. As a result, there are two official birthplaces of the piña colada in San Juan.
Both the Barrachina Restaurant in Old San Juan and the Caribe Hilton claim to be the originals.
Pina Colada was invented by Ramon Portas Mingot (Barrachina) and Ramon “Monchito” Marrero (Caribe Hilton) in the mid-1950s.
The Barrachina pina colada version is thicker and frothier than the Caribe Hilton one.
Surprisingly, piña colada is a pretty simple drink. Mix four parts of pineapple juice, one part coconut water or cream, and put in the blender with ice and rum to taste.
Piña colada is the perfect cocktail for your visit in Puerto Rico – either while celebrating the San Sebastian festival, or lounging around the beautiful beaches of Vieques.
Caribe Hilton. 1 San Geronimo Street San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901
Barrachina Restaurant. 104 Ca. de La Fortaleza, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
By Halef at Round the World Guys
Cuba Libre – Cuba
The Cuba Libre is a simple drink with a complicated history. And yet it is more than simply a rum and coke with a lime wedge.
If you go to the right place you’ll see bartenders muddling the fragrant oil from the skin of local limes.
One of the most common cocktails around the world. The drink means Free Cuba, and is thought to be related to the Spanish-American War where Americans helped liberate Cuba from Spanish rule.
Legends says American soldiers after the war would drink it, raising their glasses to cheers to a Cuba Libre.
However, the facts on this rum cocktail may be a bit fuzzy as the war was in 1898. And even the Cuban rum company Havana Club says it was invented in the 1900s.
This seems to be more accurate as Coca-Cola wasn’t available in Cuba until American troops introduced it in 1900.
But I am sure even two or three years later Americans, enjoying the island as its new holiday oasis toasted to this newly liberated country.
Painkiller – Bermuda
If you’re heading to the British Virgin Islands, at some point a bartender is going to offer you a Painkiller. And it won’t be an aspirin!
A Painkiller is the islands’ signature cocktail. A fruity concoction served in a traditional old-fashioned glass and made from a lip-smacking blend of dark island rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and coconut cream.
With a nod to its Caribbean roots, it often has freshly grated nutmeg sprinkled liberally on top.
And it’s best sipped on a hot sunny day whilst swinging in a hammock, overlooking turquoise waters and white sandy beaches.
Its origin lies in a classic piña colada, but this particular imbibe is renowned in the islands. Not least because of its history.
Legend has it that it was first made back in the 1970’s at The Soggy Dollar Bar on the tiny island of Jost Van Dyke.
The bar is so-called because, having no dock, sailors and their guests had to wade ashore. And yes, the money in their pockets got rather damp.
Of course, The Soggy Dollar Bar is still the best place to sample one, but they’re served throughout the British Virgin Islands.
So grab a Painkiller and relax, you’re on island time now!
By Nicky from Above Us Only Skies
Mai Tai – Oakland
Mai Tais are the popular drink typically ordered when you visit the Hawaiian Islands.
But actually the Mai Tai was invented in Oakland, California in a popular Tiki Bar called Trader Vics. It eventually became well known at Tiki Bars around the world.
The name Mai Tai is thought to derived from the Tahitian term Maita’i meaning very good.
Afterwards the Hawaiian association was born with both Tiki culture and Tahitian name to become a Hawaiian cocktail associated with the islands.
The introduction of the Mai Tai predominantly used in the Elvis film, Blue Hawaii also made this a signature drink to go for when visiting the Hawaiian Islands.
The tropical drink has a few ingredient variations but is made mostly with dark and light rum, orange curaçao, fresh lime juice and orgeat syrup.
All the ingredients are placed in a mixer with ice and shaken then strained into a glass with a garnish like a pineapple wedge.
If you are visiting the islands and want to experience some local and traditional Hawaiian food, check out this post on popular Hawaiian dishes you should try when you visit.
By Noel at This Hawaii Life
Zombie – California
The Zombie is a crazy Tiki drink with an even crazier story.
In the 1930s Ernest Gantt moved to Hollywood, changed his name to Donn Beach and opened the restaurant Don the Beachcomber.
It was one of the first restaurants that started the tiki craze with Polynesian decor and fruity boozy cocktails that promised to protect you from harm.
Tiki cocktails are notoriously dangerous because the fruit juice masks the high alcoholic content. They are delicious but deceptively strong.
The story goes that a hungover regular came into the Beachcomber and needed a drink to get through a meeting. Donn created a strong rum cocktail to revive him.
A few days later the man returned to complain because it turned him into a zombie.
It’s now one of the most famous cocktails around the world, and often comes with a warning not to have too many.
Daiquiri – Cuba
One of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drinks, the daiquiri was invented in the early 20th century in eastern Cuba.
This is a slight twist on the classic, which became famous on its own.
Named for the prolific writer, Hemingway was rumoured to have knocked back a dozen of these during the day Havana’s Floridita bar.
Visit this famous cocktail bar for the charming life-size bronze statue of Ernest Hemingway positioned in his beloved spot at the far end of the bar counter.
Hemingway was fondly known as “Papa” in Havana during the 1930s when prohibition still held sway in the United States.
He supposedly tried his first daiquiri at El Floridita and remarked: “That’s good, but I prefer mine with twice the rum and no sugar.”
Ultimately asking for more rum, a splash of lime juice and no sugar! His nickname, and the request for twice the rum, caused the bartender Constantino Ribalaigua Vert to name this new version a “Papa Doble” in his honor.
The cocktail is a refreshing blend of white rum, lime juice, fresh grapefruit juice, maraschino liqueur and, of course, ice cubes.
According to the author, the drink “had no taste of alcohol and felt, as you drank them, the way downhill glacier skiing feels running through powder snow.”
From Ivan at Mind the Travel
Mint Julep – Southwestern United States
Due largely to its association with Scarlett O’Hara/Gone With the Wind and the Kentucky Derby/Churchill Downs (where it has been served annually since 1938), the mint julep cocktail is widely regarded as an iconic emblem of genteel Southern sophistication.
But what you may not realize if you’ve never had one is the fact that this sweet, smooth-sipping drink has a kick of Kentucky Bourbon whiskey in it that’ll knock you over like Seabiscuit powering into the final turn!
Though the Mint Julep’s exact origins in the southeastern United States are unclear, the drink’s history dates back to the 18th century.
It appears in literature as early as 1784, when it was commonly prescribed as a remedy for stomach sickness, and was later a common morning drink for Virginians.
The recipe is fairly basic:
- Muddle about 10 mint leaves in the bottom of a tall old-fashioned glass
- add 1.5 teaspoons of superfine sugar
- 2.5 ounces of good bourbon
- seltzer water, crushed ice, and a sprig of mint for garnish on top.
Most people would say that the Kentucky Derby is the best place to try one.
But the best Mint Julep I ever had was at a mid-afternoon backyard BBQ in North Georgia, of which– thanks to 3 delicious drinks– I have only the faintest of memories…
By Bret and Mary of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide
Manhattan – New York City
New York City is undoubtedly one of America’s top food destinations. And there’s no cocktail more iconic to The Big Apple than the elegant Manhattan.
One tale of its origin has it being invented in the 1860s in a bar on Broadway near Houston Street.
Others believe the Manhattan Club perfected the recipe in the 1870s and claimed it as its own, prompting folks to begin requesting a ‘Manhattan Cocktail’ at bars around the city.
The original recipe mixed whiskey with sweet Italian vermouth and a dash of Angostura bitters. Today they are made using your whiskey of choice with bourbon and rye topping the list.
No matter which whiskey is chosen the ratio remains the same — two parts whiskey, one part sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters, and a cherry (or two) for garnish.
The blend can be stirred but is most often shaken with ice and poured into an ice cold glass. Orange or Peychaud’s Bitters are often used by some bartenders as are locally produced whiskeys.
It’s hard not to find a great Manhattan in the premier bars in NYC, but if pressed our favourite has to be Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side.
Sweet and cold with just a hint of spice from the whiskey is the best way to indulge in Manhattan’s signature cocktail.
By Lori at Travlinmad
Irish Coffee – Ireland
An Irish coffee is made up of hot coffee, sugar, Irish Whiskey and is topped off with cream.
Record of coffee cocktails existing in Europe date back to the mid 1800’s but the “Irish Coffee” is said to have been created by several different people around the 1940s and 50s.
Chef Joe Sheridan claims to have first served coffee with whiskey in Limerick, Ireland around 1942.
An American travel writer says he brought it from Shannon, Ireland to San Francisco in the 1950s and Joseph Jackson from county Donegal is claimed to have first served it to troops during World War II.
To make the perfect Irish coffee:
- Start with a warm glass to keep the drink warm then add at least 1tsp of sugar.
- Next add one ounce of Irish Whiskey, Jamesons is preferred.
- Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the coffee.
- Then pour thick cream over a bar spoon so it lays nicely on top of the coffee. Enjoy!
One of the best spots to enjoy an Irish Coffee in Dublin, Ireland is the roof top bar and terrace of the Marker Hotel.
Sip your coffee and enjoy the views overlooking the Grand Canal and the rest of Dublin.
By Cailin from Travel Yourself
Boston Sour – United States
There are many types of spirits made into sours but often times cheap bars will just use a sour mix instead of making a drink properly.
This was especially true when ordering a whiskey sour until bartenders decided to give the whiskey sour that uses egg white a different name to ensure quality.
A Boston Sour is a whiskey sour using egg white. It was introduced in 1892 as an ingredient to smooth the harshness of cheap whiskey.
Today when you order a Boston Sour it ensures that egg white and a sour element, such as fresh lemon juice, are used instead of a powder mix.
Caesar Drink – Canada
Canada’s national cocktail, many assume that the Caesar cocktail is a variation of the Bloody Mary drink.
However, when it was invented in 1969 in Calgary it was inspired by an Italian dish spaghetti alla vongole – spaghetti with clams and tomato sauce.
It is a very popular brunch cocktail in Canada. It uses Clamato juice, like the Mexican Michelada and both drinks are considered hangover cures.
Many bars have Caesar stations where you can customize your Caesar drink with everything from spicy pepperoni to more horseradish so you’re basically drinking cocktail sauce with vodka!
At least that’s how I like it!
Jal Jeera Vodka – India
This drink originated from the popular Jal Jeera drink, which is available across North India in the summer months.
A non-alcoholic version of Jal Jeera is a popular traditional drink available on street stalls as well as in restaurants. Adding vodka in it makes it an interesting cocktail.
The name Jal Jeera drove from its ingredients i.e. “Jal” means water and “Jeera” is cumin. It is one of the most easily available and thirst-quenching drinks from the North of India.
Jal Jeera is tangy and sweet. The easiest way to make it by buying readymade Jal Jeera powder pack from any supermarket and then adding some lemon juice, sugar syrup and crushed mint leaves in it.
If you are not able to get the pack of Jal Jeera powder then it’s easy to make from scratch.
Take mint leaves, coriander leaves, lemon juice, a bit of ginger, black salt, sugar, asafoetida, cumin, tamarind paste, and salt. Make a paste of these in a blender.
Take a few spoons of this paste, 30 ml Vodka, ice, and water. Shake well and serve. In some places, plain soda is used instead of water.
Mostly it is garnished it with fried chickpea flours puffs as these add a crunchy texture to the drink.
Most of the bars in Delhi serve this drink and it’s very popular in summer months due to its cooling ingredients. It is one of the must-try drink when you visit Delhi for the first time.
By Sapna from My Simple Sojourn
Moscow Mule – United States
Without a doubt one of the most popular cocktails around the world. In fact, in 2017 the Moscow mule was the most Googled cocktail in the world.
Everyone loves the zesty, spicy flavour of a Moscow mule and who can turn down the signature copper mug which keeps the drink icy cold?
The classic Moscow mule is a simple cocktail with three ingredients: vodka, lime juice and ginger beer. The signature copper mug was actually a marketing ploy to draw more attention to the drink.
And that’s because in the 1940s no one was drinking Russian vodka in the United States, and so the distributor wanted something exciting to draw attention to a cocktail with vodka in it.
It was so successful that the Moscow Mule was one of the most popular cocktails in the 1950s and continues to be a favourite today.
Szarlotka – Poland
Szarlotka (apple pie) is one of the best thing to try in Poland.
In this amazing country, apple pie is served both as a dessert that goes well with your coffee and a tasty cocktail that is the perfect company as you explore Poland’s festive nightlife.
Szarlotka from Poland is probably one of the best cocktails in the world. A surprisingly simple cocktail made with only 2 ingredients, you might take a few bottles of Żubrówka vodka home just to be able to take this taste home.
What makes the drink special is the special Żubrówka vodka which is infused with jasmine, caramel, and a secret ingredient: bison grass, which grows in Puszcza Białowieska National Park at the border between Poland and Belarus.
When combined with tangy, unfiltered apple juice, the subtle flavors of the local vodka come to life, creating a spectacular concoction that you can easily get addicted to.
Taste the best version of this local cocktail at The Piano Rouge in Krakow.
The vibrant decoration of this beautiful restaurant and cocktail bar adds depth to the taste of its flavourful version of Szarlotka or Tatanka, which translates to Apple Pie.
You can easily find this location by the Main Square in Krakow and it is open every day.
By Karolina at Polish Foodies
Hand Grenade – New Orleans
New Orleans has no shortage of cocktails but one of the wildest, and slightly trashy, is the Hand Grenade.
While there are imitations of this Big Easy drink, the original is purchased at the Tropical Isle bar located on the city’s infamous Bourbon Street, home to some of the best restaurants in New Orleans.
This refreshing recipe is a protected shop secret but according to sources online the main ingredients are:
- Melon liqueur
Alternatively, you can purchase a ready made mix in New Orleans or online for home consumption.
To serve you will need to acquire a fairground-style drink cup with bendy straw or take home your authentic Tropical Isle’s bright green container from New Orleans.
Tropical Isle‘s has been serving hand grenades since ’92 and claim to be better than the famous NOLA Hurricane!
Drink in or take out from Tropical Isles at 721 Bourbon Street. One of the unique things to do in New Orleans.
By Gemma of Two Scots Abroad
Pimm’s Cocktail – United Kingdom
When the sun finally makes an appearance in the UK (usually sometime around May) a strange phenomenon takes place.
From Edinburgh to Portsmouth, people are rummaging in the back of their cupboards to drag out their trusty jug.
Whether you are watching tennis at Wimbledon, opera at Glundebourne or just having a jolly old time in the garden, it is always Pimm’s O’Clock!
Pimm’s, or Pimms Cup, is the ultimate British summer drink. It all starts with a drink called Pimm’s No1. This has a base of gin and this base is blended with a secret recipe of liqueurs and herbs.
The recipe was concocted by an oyster house owner in London, back in the 1820s whose name was Mr Pimm. It was originally served straight to the oyster guzzlers as a digestif.
It came in a little glass called a number one cup… see what they did there?
There have actually been seven variations of Pimm’s, all with different base alcohols but three of them have been discontinued and Pimm’s cup No1 makes up 99% of the Pimm’s consumed.
It has a very distinct flavour when mixed as a cocktail, but to smell it neat, it might remind you of cola.
The basic Pimm’s cup is a mixture of Pimm’s No1 and lemonade but if you try and serve just that, there will be a minor riot.
A proper Pimm’s comes with mint, cucumber, strawberries, and orange and lemon slices. Half the fun is chomping through the booze soaked fruit and veg once the drink is finished.
Beware, this drink is sweet and utterly gluggable, but, as it is usually served in a jug, and consumed in the sunshine, you may end up a little more inebriated than planned.
By Rosie at the Flying Fluskey
Singapore Sling – Singapore
You cannot visit Singapore without trying the Singapore sling, the famous cocktail made in Singapore.
The Singapore sling is so famous that it is one of the cocktails selected by the IBA (International Bartenders Association) for use in the annual World Cocktail Competition.
The Singapore sling is a centenary cocktail! It was created in 1915, by one of the bartenders of the Hotel Raffles in Singapore.
The idea of this gin-based drink was to resemble a fruit punch. Back then it was not well seen that ladies consume alcohol in public.
The bartender created a cocktail masking it with a pink rose hue to lend people into thinking it was a fruit punch.
Since the beginning, the Singapore sling was very successful due to this fruit punch look but also for its taste.
People liked to seat in the terrace outside drinking Singapore slings and people watching. Plus the lime’s fresh taste helped with the hot days!
The Singapore sling is made of Widges London Dry Gin, Bénédictine, Luxardo Cherry Sangue Morlacco, Ferrand Dry Curaçao, grenadine, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, spice plantation bitters.
The most popular place to drink a Singapore sling is still the Raffles Hotel, always paired with nuts, but it is possible to find a Singapore sling everywhere in the city.
By Elisa from World in Paris
The Old Fashioned – Wisconsin
Wisconsin has taken the old fashioned cocktail to new heights.
Originally appearing during prohibition, the cocktail can be made with any spirit. The old fashioned combines a base spirit with bitters, sugar, fruit, and a sparkling mixer.
Many associate bourbon with the Old Fashioned, but in Wisconsin brandy is king.
Wisconsin’s German immigrants loved the taste of California brandy back in 1893 when the Korbel brothers sampled it at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition because it reminded them of their liquor back home.
The Wisconsin Old Fashioned can be made sweet, sour, or pres (half sweet) but the most popular is “Brandy Sweet.”
To make an Old fashioned:
- In a lowball glass muddle one or two Maraschino cherries (for the best, use Luxardo brand).
- Cut a navel orange into 6 pieces and squeeze one into the glass.
- Add 2 oz. brandy, 3 dashes of Angostura bitters, two Tbsp. simple syrup, and then stir.
- Add ice to fill to 2/3 of the glass.
- Top with Sprite or 7-Up. Garnish with additional cherries and an orange wedge.
To get plenty of tastes and have fun learning to make your own, take the Bitters Bootcamp at The Avenue Club And Bubble Up Bar in Madison.
By Sue at Food Travelist
Sazerac – New Orleans
New Orleans loves its cocktails from the Ramos Gin Fizz to the Hurricane. But no cocktail is more important to the city’s history than the potent Sazerac.
According to the Louisiana Legislature, it is the official cocktail of the city of New Orleans. Some people even claim that the Sazerac is the first American cocktail.
As with many old cocktails, no one is 100 percent certain who invented the Sazerac.
But everyone agrees that it was created in the 19th century in New Orleans using a combination of muddled sugar, Sazerac brandy, and Peychaud’s bitters.
Nowadays the drink is more often made with rye whiskey instead of brandy. The most important final step when making the Sazerac is to pour the cocktail into an old fashioned glass that has been rinsed with absinthe.
This gives the drink an intriguing herbal taste that distinguishes it from the old fashioned. An orange peel garnish is optional.
Peychaud’s bitters is the most local ingredient in the cocktail. A New Orleanian apothecary named Antoine Peychaud created the bitters according to a secret family recipe.
It has more of an anise taste than other types of bitters, which pairs nicely with the absinthe.
Many places in New Orleans serve a great sazerac. One of the best is the Carousel Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone on 214 Royal St. Belly up to the revolving bar and take a sip of New Orleans history!
By Stella at Around the World in 24 Hours
Margarita – Mexico
There are a few drinks synonymous with Mexico; cerveza, tequila, and of course, the margarita. When you picture yourself in a hammock at the beach with a drink in your hand, which would it be?
For me it would be a toss up between an icy cold beer or a perfectly balanced margarita. This simple blend of tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur is traditionally served on the rocks with a salted rim.
The Margarita is said to have been invented in 1938 in Baja California by Carlos “Danny” Herrera at his restaurant Rancho La Gloria.
Though the recipe may have been around much longer under different names. Many bartenders will cheat and use a sweetened margarita mix, so if you want the real thing make sure you ask for it.
The recipe I use is 2 oz tequila, 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 oz Triple Sec.
I prefer to use the little Mexican colima limes, like key limes, but if there are regular limes available and they’re juicy they’ll work too.
It was one of my signature drinks on the yacht where I was a chef for 10 years. We were based in Mexico for 6 of those years, in Cozumel and Isla Mujeres. My favorite place for a Margarita on Cozumel was always Mezcalito’s on the windward side of the island.
By Lizzie at Lizzie Lau Travels
Charro Negro – Mexico
Best described as Mexico’s twist on Cuba’s classic Cuba Libre, this Mexican cocktail is named after a very popular legend.
Perhaps it’s because the Charro Negro cocktail is as alluring as the mythical man it is named after.
Charro Negro is a man riding a horse that appears at night when people are walking home. He may offer gold coins, which you shouldn’t take because you’ll sell your soul. And if it’s a long walk don’t accept his offer for a ride or you’ll never return.
I’ve never seen this man walking home, but I can attest that a Charro Negro does down well on hot afternoon sharing Mexican antojito snacks with friends.
Pisco is a brandy made from distilling grape juice that is most commonly found in cocktails in Peru and Chile.
In fact there is a huge debate whether it’s most popular cocktail around the world, the pisco sour, was invented in Chile or Peru.
Pisco Sour – Peru
Perhaps the most popular Peruvian cocktail, there is a base classic recipe for the pisco sour but also so many other variations.
When I worked at a hostel bar in Cusco all people wanted to drink was passionfruit pisco sours.
Some people are afraid to drink a cocktail with raw egg white. But healthy adults should not have any issues.
As long as the eggs are fresh and you aren’t letting the cocktail sit outside all day in the sun you should be fine.
Chilcano – Peru
Known as the other pisco cocktail in Peru, it’s just as common as the pisco sour.
If you like citrusy fizzy drinks like the Moscow Mule, you’ll love the Chilcano and it’s SO easy to make.
It’s a refreshing mix of ginger ale and fresh lime juice with pisco. And if for some reason you can’t find it on a drink menu, simply ask for one as everyone knows how to make it.
A sugar cane spirit typically associated with Brazil but exists in other countries in Latin America to create some of the most loved cocktails around the world.
It is also known as aguardiente in drinks in Colombia and guaro in Costa Rican drinks.
Caipirinha – Brazil
The caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, and with good reason. These drinks are deceivingly strong and refreshingly delicious.
A traditional caipirinha is made with just three ingredients: lime, cachaça (sugarcane spirit) and sugar.
You can also get other flavors of caipirinha, like maracujá (passion fruit), strawberry, or pineapple. They go down easy, so be careful!
Although the origin of the drink is unknown, the name comes from the diminutive of the word caipira, which in Brazilian Portuguese refers to someone from the countryside.
Caipirinhas are easy to make, and often inexpensive to buy. Here’s how to make your own:
1-2 tablespoons of sugar
2 oz. cachaça
1. Cut the lime in half, and then quarter each half.
2. Crush lime with a mortar and pestle.
3. Add sugar crush some more, and then add cachaca. Shake.
3. Serve over ice.
They’re are sold all over Brazil, from restaurants to street stands and even right on the beach. They’re sipped on year round in Brazil, and are a great go-to summer drink.
Definitely try one if you’re visiting!
By Sandy of Boogie the Pug
Canchanchara – Cuba
Made with aguardiente, this is the oldest Cuban cocktail and considered to be the ancestor of the very popular Cuban daiquiri.
The Canchanchara was created in the colonial town of Trinidad Cuba and is traditionally served in these pottery mugs. I had my first one at my casa particular on a Cuba tour with Intrepid Travel.
It was a popular drink during the Cuban War of Independence from Spain. Cuban freedom fighters drank it hot to stay warm at night.
Now it is served cold. It uses local ingredients including sugarcane aguardiente with lime, honey and water. It is served over crushed ice with the aguardiente poured on top.
At first it seems like a strong drink but if you mix it the alcohol mixes in nicely for a refreshing drink.
Milan food is full of tradition and the Milanese love putting a spin on classic cocktails around the world.
While the negroni is an Italian cocktail, the negroni sbagliato is uniquely a Milanese cocktail.
Sbagliato means a mistake, and it is thought that a busy bartender messed up a negroni order only to discover this fantastic drink.
The traditional cocktail is made with gin but I love this variation that uses Prosecco, Italian sparkling wine.
It is added to a base of Campari and sweet vermouth for a delicious Italian cocktail.
Kir – France
Un Kir s’il vous plaitis a sentence you hear very often in French bars and restaurants – not surprising, the Kir is the favorite cocktail of the French.
It’s made up of white wine and black currant liqueur and traditionally served for apéritif – the very French socializing moment before a meal.
The cocktail origins in the Burgundy region and reflects two local specialties: black currant (cassis) and white wine.
The drink was simply called a “blanc cassis” until the mayor of Dijon in Burgundy, Félix Kir started to serve it to receptions of visiting delegations.
Until then it was habit to serve champagne, but Monsieur Kir changed it as it was “less expensive and more burgundy”.
Traditionally, a Burgundy Aligote is used as a white wine base to mix a Kir, but many prefer a Chardonnay, for example, a Chablis.
Today, a Kir is not necessarily mixed with black currant liqueur anymore, it’s also popular with raspberry, peach or blackberry liqueur or syrup.
Originally from Burgundy, other regions came up with their own local variations of Kir.
The Kir Breton is for example mixed with cider and black currant and for special occasions, why not swapping the white wine with Champagne and enjoying a Kir Royal?
From Lena at Salut From Paris
Terremoto – Chile
In Chile, there’s a drink with not only a unique flavor but a unique name. The country where there are lots of earthquakes is also having a drink under this name.
Terremotos, are a delicious mix of three ingredients: a young and not too fancy white wine called pipeño, pineapple ice cream, and either grenadine or fernet, a digestive liquor made of herbs.
There’s no consent on how and who invented it, but it’s certainly available in most of the traditional restaurants in Santiago and rural areas around.
Terremotos can also be dangerous to drink, as the usual size is a half-liter glass (usually plastic to avoid accidents). And as it’s sweet it’s very easy to drink it quickly and order the next one immediately.
There are several bars where you can drink Terremotos in Santiago, my favorite is La Piojera, one of the oldest bars in the city.
This bar is frequented by tourists but also by the usual habitual customers and having a great atmosphere sometimes including live music. Perfect to feel the world moving around as you drink it.
In La Piojera, when the bar is the busiest, they prepare 10 or more Terremotos in a row and this only is already a fun thing to watch!
From Gloria at Nomadic Chica
Tinto de Verano – Spain
Tinto de Verano, means “summer red wine”. Red wine is very popular in Spain and usually associated with sangria.
This drink is like sangria, only easier and simpler, usually made with red wine and a bubbly substance like Sprite, Fanta Límon, or carbonated water and lemon bitters.
The theory is that tinto de verano was invented in 1920 by the Vargas Sales located near El Brilliante.
The owner, Don Federico Vargas, sold a lot of wine to his heavy-drinking customers and so he started adding other flavors to make the drinks softer, and less intoxicating.
You can tell the difference from a sangria to a tinto de verano by the fruit. Tinto is not usually served with fruit in the drink, but rather, on the rim of the glass as garnish.
One of the best places to taste this is at the chain restaurant, 100 Montaditos, where it costs 1.50 EUR for a large glass, plus you can order some cheap mini ‘bocadillos’ or sandwiches for under 2 Euro as well.
From Lauren at Always Find Adventure
The Bellini – Venice, Italy
The Bellini captures Venice in a glass!
A very simple mixture of the region’s most enjoyed sparkling wine, Prosecco, and Italy’s delectable white peaches, the Bellini is remarkably difficult to get right.
You can only really taste the real thing by ordering one at its birthplace, Harry’s Bar on the edge of the Grand Canal in Venice.
Its creator, Harry Cipriani, of Harry’s Bar fame, named it after Giovanni Bellini, one of the great Venetian Renaissance artists, because its color reminded him of the soft pink hues of Bellini’s distinctive palette.
Sipping one in their tiny, cramped, yet über-chic, bolthole off of the Grand Canal, you might as well order two because the first one goes down so easily!
From Susan at A Lush Life Manual
Sangria – Spain
Sangría is probably the most popular drink to have come out of Spain. Rioja red wine is most often used as the base for this dark red drink, whose name literally means “bloodletting” in Spanish.
Chopped fresh fruit is added to the wine, along with a mix of spices, and sometimes brandy or other stronger types of alcohol.
Or alternatively, instead of adding stronger liqueurs it can be diluted with water or a soft drink such as lemon or orange Fanta.
Sangría is served chilled, in a large jug meant for sharing. It makes a great accompaniment to a round or two of traditional Spanish tapas.
The typical sangría jug has a narrow mouth that prevents the ice cubes and chopped fruit from falling into the glass when it’s poured.
A spatula or paddle is usually provided to aid with this.
It has to be said that many Spaniards view sangría as kind of a touristy thing nowadays.
When I asked my madrileño friends where to go for the best sangría, I was shocked to hear them say they never drink it.
Instead, they drink tinto de verano (summer wine). A mix of half wine and half carbonated drink (something like Sprite or 7up), tinto de verano tastes similar to sangría but is simpler and easier to make, and also cheaper.
From Wendy at The Nomadic Vegan
Agua de Valencia – Spain
Iconic orange trees line the streets of Valencia, Spain. Naturally, visitors to the city will want to try some of the local fruit.
While fresh orange juice can be found everywhere, there’s an even better way to drink it: In a cocktail known as Agua de Valencia.
Agua de Valencia (Water of Valencia) is a cocktail made from sparkling wine (generally cava), vodka, gin, and orange juice.
In 1959, Bartender Constante Gil invented it at Café Madrid de Valencia. The story is that the drink was created for a group who kept requesting “Agua de Bilbao”, AKA cava.
The group asked Gil to create a new drink with their preferred cava and Agua de Valencia was the result.
Agua de Valencia can be found at most bars in the city. The original Café Madrid closed for a long time, though it has since been reborn.
Many believe Valencia’s best Agua de Valencia can now be found at Café de las Horas. The bohemian bar is a nice place to relax & enjoy any drink.
By Jon at Everybody Hates a Tourist
Fröccs – Budapest
Mixing wine with anything can be a big no, no for most, especially wine purists. In Hungary, mixing wine is by no means frowned upon.
In fact it’s been taken to a whole new level.
Fröccs, Hungarian for “spritzer,”is a refreshing wine cocktail. It is made from locally produced Hungarian red, white, or rose wine and soda water.
Surprisingly, fröccs are not served over ice like their white wine spritzer cousins. They are served in a typical water glass, never in a traditional wine glass.
Fröccs are incredibly popular throughout Hungary. Travelers to Hungary can find them in bars and restaurants.
They are best enjoyed at one of the ruin bars in Budapest. Ruin bars are eclectic bars built in abandoned buildings or on abandoned properties.
Best of all fröccs are inexpensive, costing on average under $2 USD. Hungarians have been enjoying fröccs since the late 19th century.
The inventor of the fröccs is open to debate. Regardless of who invented it, fröccs transcended social classes with Hungarians of all walks of life enjoying this tasty cocktail.
Many of Hungary’s most famous authors paid homage to the fröccs in poems and other literary works.
Connoisseur of fröccs say the best wine to use is an unoaked, fruity and aromatic white. These provide a crispness and sharpness to the drink.
Over the years, Hungarians have developed more than 20 variations of the fröccs. These variations differ based on the proportions of wine to soda water in each, with some fröccs begin stronger than others.
Some of these variations are supposedly named for the Hungarian poets who favored that ratio.
From Amber of Food and Drink Destinations
Hugo – Austria
Come to Austria in summer, and you’ll see many locals sipping from a large glass of wine in the outdoor dining areas of restaurants and cafes.
Many enjoy the so-called Sommerspritzer – which is half sparkling water and half wine.
But there has been a new drink on the menu popping up. It’s gained huge popularity and is definitely one of my favourites: Enter Hugo!
Hugo is a pleasant cocktail to enjoy on a hot summer day either after a long day sightseeing around Vienna or hiking the alps in Styria or Tyrol.
The origin of the name Hugo is a play on the German word Elderflower – Holunder – which is very popular in Austria in a type of syrup.
It’s a mix of prosecco or white wine or even champagne, said elderflower syrup, fresh mint, sometimes lime and sparkling water.
Some say it’s a take on a light summer mojito or a summer version of above mentioned Sommerspritzer.
From Viktoria of Chronic Wanderlust
The Italian spritz cocktail, made with Campari or Aperol is the signature drink of apertivo in Italy.
Although many tourists confuse it as a happy hour equivalent with cheap drinks, they are quickly confused and often disappointed.
Aperitivo drinks are often a bit more expensive but come with a bite to eat.
It is meant to be a snack before a much later dinner in Italy.
The spritz drink is a simple but vibrant orange cocktail made with prosecco or other local sparkling wine, club soda, and Campari or Aperol – the choice depending on how bitter you’d like the drink.
No trip to Italy is complete without a spritz.
Beer cocktails around the world are becoming increasingly popular. It’s a great way to add flavour and lighten up a drink.
Mexico is the master at this, many popular drinks in Mexico are different variations of beer cocktails.
Michelada – Mexico
The original hangover cure in Mexico, a Michelada traditionally uses a darker beer with Clamato juice, lime and spices. It is known as a cervesa preparada or prepared beer in Mexico, of which there are many.
And like the Bloody Mary or Caesar drink you don’t need a hangover to drink one. It is a delicious drink with or without the headache.
You simply order whatever beer you’d like and add on the Michelada option.
Servers will bring a glass with the Michelada mix, often accompanied by hot sauce, and you can pour as much beer as you’d like.
Somaek – Korea
A little known fact about South Korea is that Seoulites drink twice as much soju (rice wine) than Russians do vodka, around 13.7 shots per week.
The company Jinro Soju is in fact the world’s top selling hard liquor at 71.97 million cases in 2016 (Smirnoff only sold 25.50 million cases of vodka).
Drinking eases the tension in a country where public image is of utmost importance and allows colleagues and friends to chat about issues they otherwise might not talk about.
Drinking and eating is also a part of company culture known as hwe-shik.
A large part of the drinking culture includes the simple combination of soju, a clear Korean distilled rice liquor similar to sake, and beer, which is called maekju.
Combined, the cocktail is called somaek (soju+maekju). There are two ways of drinking it, the first concept is similar to a Jager Bomb where you drop the small soju glass into the beer.
The other is to pour the soju into the beer, then take a chopstick and hit it fast into the center of the beer mug so that everything combines.
The point is that it’s a social, self-made cocktail, usually accompanied with Korean BBQ and laughter. You can get both the soju and maekju at just about any restaurant.
The preferred combination is Jinro’s Chamisul soju and Hite or Cass beer. But if you’re like me you can go for the fancier stuff like Hwayo premium soju and craft beer.
From Cal at Once in a Lifetime Journey
Chelada – Mexico
The chelada beer cocktail is a great option for those who do not like Clamato juice or tomato juice. It takes the principal of making a michelada refreshing but is a much simpler cocktail.
With just three ingredients and a salted rim, it’s also considered a great hangover cure. Although it’s also popular as a light refreshing drink in the afternoon with friends. With the brightness of lime it also pairs so well with almost any food in Mexico.
You can’t go wrong with a chelada.
More Great Cocktails Around the World
Chūhai – Japan
While Japan is known more for its cuisine than its cocktails, there are a handful of beverages that stand out amongst the rest.
While sake is the star of the spirit world in Japan, it is traditionally drunk alone.
So when it comes to cocktails, allow us to introduce you to the chūhai. This drink is far from fancy, but it is a summertime favorite in many izakayas (small pubs) around Japan.
Made with shōchū (the Japanese equivalent of Korean soju), carbonated water and fruit flavoring, this bubbly beverage is a good alternative to beer.
Plus, with lots of flavors to choose from, like plum, yuzu (Japanese citrus), peach, grapefruit and calpis (a tangy yogurt flavor), you’ll surely want to sample a few! The name chūhai is a shortened version of the drink’s proper name: shochu highball.
This refreshing beverage is cheap, too, typically costing no more than $4 USD (200-400 yen).
So order a chūhai (or buy a canned version of the drink at a convenience store), raise your glass and say, “Kanpai!” (That’s a phrase you’ll want to remember, as it is Japanese for cheers!)
By Katie from Two Wandering Soles
Caipirão – Portugal
Licor Beirão is my absolute favourite Portuguese liqueur, partly because of its slightly medicinal, herby flavour.
Successful marketing campaigns over the last few decades have repositioned it from being something your granny drinks to a trendy tipple.
There are many things you can do with Licor Beirão – drink it neat, on the rocks, in your coffee or pour it over a dessert – but one of the most popular Licor Beirão cocktails is the Caipirão, a play on words and a twist on the Brazilian Caiprinha.
In the Portuguese version, you simply replace the cachaça (a sugar cane spirit, like rum) with Licor Beirão.
Since the liqueur is quite syrupy, there’s no need to add sugar as you would for a Caipirinha. It’s also super simple to make at home.
Start by crushing half a lime, already cut into slices, in the bottom of a medium-sized glass.
Next, almost fill the glass with crushed ice. Now pour over 60 ml of Licor Beirão, give it a swirl with a couple of straws and it’s ready to roll.
You’ll be able to order a Caipirão in most trendy bars in Portugal, or at one of the Licor Beirão kiosks at fairs and festivals throughout the land.
What are we missing? Share your favourite drinks around the world in the comments section!
This is such a wonderful list. I definitely will not be bored trying to make all of these while I stay at home during the pandemic.
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