Each world country has its own unique and traditional alcoholic beverages. Mostly, the beverages serve to represent a cultural aspect of the country, instead of being meant to slip into sloppy drunkenness. The following countries all differ from each other, speaking culture and tradition through beverage history and development.
Canucks proudly toast their iced mugs to the ever-popular Canadian beer, Labatt Blue. A pilsner, Labatt Blue has been intertwined with Canadian culture, universally enjoyed by all across the country. The brewery describes it as a “clean, refreshing pilsner with a distinctive hoppy aroma, a delicate character, and a slightly sweet aftertaste.” Founded in 1847 by John Labatt, the Labatt Brewery’s beers quickly became insanely popular throughout the remainder of the 1800s and survived prohibition in the early 1900s. In 1951, Labatt Pilsner, nicknamed “Blue” was introduced and eventually took first place at the World Beer Competition in 1958. In 1979, it became the best-selling Canadian beer in the world. It remains a distinct part of Canadian culture.
Among the most popular mixed drinks in Canada is the infamous “Bloody Caesar.” Invented in Alberta in 1969 by restauranteur Walter Chell, it quickly rose to fame, with over 350 million Bloody Caesars consumed annually in Canada alone. Usually a mixture of vodka, clamato juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, there are several variations to the drink. Here is one version:
- 6 oz. Clamato Juice
- 1 1/2 oz. Vodka
- 2 dashes Tobasco Sauce
- 2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
- Celery Salt
- Freshly Ground Pepper
- A Lemon and a Lime Wedge
- 1 Crisp Celery Stalk
- Rim a highball glass with lemon, celery salt, and pepper.
- Fill glass with ice.
- Add vodka, clamato juice, and a dash of pepper.
- Add the Tobasco and Worcestershire sauce.
- Stir and garnish with a celery stalk and a wedge of lime.
The word “vodka” comes from the Russian word “voda,” meaning “water.” Therefore, it is no surprise that it is the national drink of Russia. The top three most popular vodkas in Russia are as follows: Green Label, Putinka, and Five Lakes. Green Label, also known as Green Mark, is a traditional Russian vodka, named after the green quality seal the Soviet government agencies stamped on bottles that underwent strict purity tests. It is made of high quality wheat, naturally farmed yeast, and water that has been purified and softened for thousands of years. Putinka, a vodka separated from the competition by ingenious marketing strategies and a refreshingly smooth taste, is mild in flavor and popular for relaxing with. It has won several awards, including the 2006 national “Product of the Year,” as well as “Superbrand of 2004” in the vodka category. Five Lakes is known to be the best vodka in Siberia, as it claims to be “as mild as the pure water of the Omsk Oblast Lakes.” It contains actual Siberian water and the purest of grain alcohol, as well as a special mineral complex said to neutralize the negative effects alcohol may have on the body.
The Russians also have a few rules concerning their vodka. First, vodka must be made from grain–no exceptions. Second, vodka is not for cocktails. In order for it to be fully understood, it is to be drunken straight, with no ice, at room temperature. Third, it must be consumed with food, such as a little zakouski or a pickle. Finally, vodka must not be infused with fruit–only pepper, anise, and horseradish are acceptable if done by hand.
However, in recent years, there has been a growing number of Russians beginning to drink beer rather than vodka. In fact, over the past ten years, vodka consumption has dropped by a third and beer consumption has increased by 40 percent. The most popular beer company in Russia is Baltika. The brewery produces several different beers, with Baltika 9 being the most popular of the lot. Established in 1990, it’s strength is achieved through natural fermentation paired with a unique recipe developed by Baltika’s specialist brewers. It won a silver medal at the Superior Taste Awards in Belgium in 2008.
China’s most infamous drink, Mao-Tai, is named after the small town in which it is produced. Always served at governmental banquets and family holiday gatherings, Mao-Tai has historically been drunk by those of the artistic professions, believing that enjoying a cup of Mao-Tai before beginning their artistic expression helps to grasp further inspiration. Made from high quality Chinese sorghum, the distiller’s yeast is prepared from wheat, and the water comes from a local spring, all giving Mao-Tai its unique taste. It is distilled and fermented eight times, with the process taking more than eight months. Then, it is aged for three years before being sold. Crystal-clear, Mao-Tai does not leave a burning sensation in the throat, despite its potency.
Yellow Alcohol is also a popular Chinese drink. It was first produced over 4,000 years ago, made from glutinous rice or broomcorn millet and named for it’s amber color. It is traditionally heated in a metal wine pot and served warm, with the belief that warm alcohol is appetizing and good for the stomach. A local custom calls for a few jars of Yellow Alcohol to be purchased at the birth of a child, then stored and sealed in mud until the child’s wedding, when it is served to guests. The aging process gives the drink a refined taste.
Beer is by far the most popular alcoholic beverage in Japan. It began in the 17th century, during the Edo Period, when the Dutch opened a beer hall for its sailors working the trade route from Japan to the Dutch Empire, introducing the Japanese to beer. However, the industry didn’t really flourish until the late 1800s, when German-trained brewmaster Seibei Nakagawa founded the Kaitakushi Brewery in Hokkaido, which today brews Sapporo beer, including Sapporo Black Label, Yebisu, Yebisu Black, Hokkaido Nama-Shibori, and more. Other leading Japanese breweries include Asahi, producing Asahi Super Dry and Asahi Black; Kirin, producing Kirin Lager Beer, Kirin Ichiban Shibori, and Kirin Fukkoko Lager; and Suntory, producing Suntory Malts and Super Magnum Dry.
Rice Wine, also known by Sake, is the national alcoholic beverage of Japan. Sake is brewed using rice,
water, and white koji mold and fully matured before serving. It is said to taste like weak vodka, always drunk straight. It is not meant to get drunk off of, but rather to relax. Sake can either be served hot, room-temperature, or cold, depending upon the preference of the drinker and the season. Hot sake is usually a winter drink; however, the higher quality sakes are not drunk hot as they lose their flavors and aromas when heated. Once opened, the bottle of sake is best drunk within a period of two to three hours.
France is well-known around the world for it’s fine wines and champagne, with more than a dozen wine-making regions, including Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy, and Loire. The regions produce both red and white wines, growing a variety of grapes, such as Merlot, Chablis, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Wines are labeled after the region and vineyard that produced them, often including the variety of grape used. Some
famous names include Claret, Dom Perignon, and Moet.
France is not only known for it’s wine, however, as they also produce fine-quality liqueurs. Included are Cointreau, a famous triple sec liqueur, Crème De Menthe, a minty liqueur, and a raspberry-based liqueur, Crème De Framboise.
Wine is also a popular drink in Spain, with the best cultivated from the Rioja region. The Spanish often drink their wine as Sangria, which is red or white wine mixed with cut fruit, or as Calimocho, red wine mixed with Coca-Cola.
Beer is also well-liked in Spain, with the most popular brewery being Mahou, S.A. In 1890, the children of a French entrepreneur founded Hijos de Casimiro Mahou in Madrid. In 1957, the company became known as Mahou, S.A. Beers brewed include Mahou Negra, San Miguel 1516, San Miguel ECO, Alhambra Especial, Alhambra Reserva 1925, Mezquita, Alhambra Premium Lager, and more.
Spain is also the origin of sherry and brandy. Sherry is a fortified white wine made from the
white grapes of the town of Jerez. In fact, all bottles labeled as “Sherry” must come from the “Sherry Triangle” in Spain, an area between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María. Spanish brandy is a distillate based on sherry, and are heavier and sweeter than those of France. Popular Spanish brandies include Osborne, Soberano, Fundador, and 103.