When we travel, we get to immerse ourselves in another culture. We speak the language (often poorly, but at least we try), we eat the local food, we learn about the country’s history and its people, we discover its art, and explore its open space. And many of us complete that immersion by drinking like the locals do.
From beers in the Czech Republic to the wines of France, vodka in Poland and tequila in Mexico, it seems every destination has a signature drink and sampling the local tipple can help you understand just a bit more of the history, culture, and daily life of a place. To learn more about traditional drinks around the world, we asked each of our WhyGo writers to tell us about their favorite beverages in their destinations.
When I first tried Campari – straight – I never thought I’d like a drink that relied on bitters. As it turns out, I’ve come to love an Italian cocktail that not only requires bitters, I’ve gotten to the point where I prefer a certain brand over any other. (I’m an Aperol girl.) Venice gave birth to the Spritz – a combination of equal parts Prosecco, bitters, and carbonated water garnished with an orange wedge – while it was under Austrian rule, hence its very non-Italian name. I first tried it because it was my favorite color, but it didn’t take long for the shocking orange glow of the drink to be simply an added bonus to the taste. Today, you’ll find it all over Italy, but the Spritz (pronounced spreeetz here) is very much a Venetian drink. It glistens in its glass, a sunset on ice, and is a perfect reminder of Venice no matter where on earth I happen to be.
- Jessica Spiegel, WhyGo Italy
Iceland doesn’t have vineyards and the closest thing they have to a national drink is called “Black Death.” Beer was banned for 75 years, until 1989, and while there are some brewers turning out surprisingly good stuff for the young age of beer culture in Iceland, it’s still expensive. To ease the pain of the high cost of drinking in Iceland, I opt to stop at the airport Duty-Free shop upon arrival, where I can save about half on the cost of liquor. I go for Reyka vodka, which is made from glacier water and filtered through lava rocks. Mixed with a little cranberry juice, it’s my favorite drink to enjoy in Iceland.
- Katie Hammel, WhyGo Iceland
Champers, champoo, a bit of bubbly – wine can be from anywhere, but Champagne only comes from one place, which is, you guessed it, Champagne, France. The thing I love about drinking Champagne in France is that it’s actually not a big deal. While it’s certainly a welcome addition to any celebration, the French need little to no provocation to pop a cork, and it’s a common apéro at bars, restaurants and dinner parties. And anyplace where that’s the prevailing attitude toward my favorite drink is OK in my book.
- Christine Cantera, WhyGo France
It’s not a unique Canadian drink–for that, you’d want to visit Quebec and sip some Pomme de Glace (ice cider)–but a cold made-in-Canada beer is still my favourite drink, especially after a day hiking in the mountains that surround my Vancouver home. (This picture was taken after a day exploring Whistler Mountain.) Canadian beer is darker, stronger and more flavourful than the golden liquid (it wouldn’t be polite to say what Canucks call it) that’s sold across the border. And with an abundance of brewpubs offering delicious small-batch craft brews, you can always find something seasonally appropriate, such as Granville Island Brewing’s pumpkin ale.
- Julie Ovenell-Carter, WhyGo Canada
Having an ice cold Mai Tai in Hawaii is one of those classic “when in Rome” type of experiences – sweet, tropical, but with the punch of light and dark rums, it’s the perfect drink to enjoy poolside or at sunset. My favorite version of the iconic drink is the Deconstructed Mai Tai served at the Waikiki Edition Hotel. It’s the perfect modern interpretation of the classic 1944 recipe invented by Vic Bergeron (aka Trader Vic), which contained only 4 ingredients – aged rum, almond syrup, fresh lime, and and orange curacao. Most contemporary versions tend too far to the sugary-sweet for my taste, with additions like grenadine or pineapple juice. The stripped-down, deconstructed version floats a lime and curacao foam over the aged rum and a delicious housemade almond syrup.
Malia Yoshioka – WhyGo Hawaii
Portland, Oregon is brewery capital of the world, so naturally, if you’re a fan of beer you’re lucky to find yourself in such a beer-centric city. With 30+ breweries in Portland, there always seems to be at least one around the corner, and if you’re also bike-curious doing a DIY pub crawl by bike makes for a fun Portland afternoon. IPAs are my Portland beer of choice, and a few of my favorite brew pubs in the city are Migration Brewing in NE, the new Hopworks Bike Bar on N Williams, Upright Brewing, and Lucky Lab for visiting with all the adorable puppies that can accompany their owners.
- Olivia Raymer, WhyGo Portland
Australia may be a land of well-known wineries and wine tours, but when it comes to the general public, Australia would definitely be classified as a beer-drinking country. I, myself, love a good Australian shiraz or a Hunter Valley merlot, but beer is also a treat, especially with the amount of microbreweries popping up around the country. Australia beer tends to be regional, meaning each state might produce and market a specific brew in that region leading to local tastes and preferences. Queenslanders, for example, will stick with a XXXX when at the local pub. One of my favorite brews would have to be the Fat Yak — both for the name and the flavor – and I’m a happy camper when I happen to find a Sydney bar with this lesser-known beverage on tap.
- Brooke Schoenman, WhyGo Australia
For all the specialty cocktails and over-the-top drinks in Las Vegas, my favorite is still a simple cup of coffee. I like to sip my java at Sambalatte Torrefazione, a locally owned and run coffee shop in the Boca Park area of Summerlin. The menu at Sambalatte includes several coffee drinks that can’t be found anywhere else in the city, and though I usually order a sugar-free vanilla latte, there’s something about the care and precision of creating the drink that I am particularly fond of. All drinks are made behind a clear window panel so you can see how they’re made, and all of them come complete with coffee art.
- JoAnna Haugen, WhyGo Las Vegas
What’s your favorite drink?
Here’s what the Travel Blog Mob had to say: