If you’re like us, you could use a drink right about now. If you have concerns about upcoming travel plans, reach out to your travel advisor for the latest updates and wise counsel. In the meantime, let’s raise a glass together in celebration of our favorite national cocktails, one of our favorite things about travel.
Made from fresh sugarcane juice, cachaça is a popular spirit in Brazil, and the main ingredient in Brazil’s favorite drink. Add a little lime and a little sugar, serve over ice and you have a great cocktail to cool down on a hot day. The caipirinha can be traced back to the fancy parties of landowners on sugar plantations in the 19th century. Today, it’s ubiquitous in Brazil, and you can find all sorts of variations with different fruits.
Spritz or Negroni
Because of Italy’s fractured history, a number of regional cocktails sprang up over the centuries and it’s hard to pin down one as the true “national” cocktail. Aperitivo culture is definitely a national pastime, however. Under Austrian Habsburg control of northern Italy, the spritz rose to popularity, especially in Venice. When the occupiers found the wine a little strong, they took to putting a spritz of water in it to cut it. Now it comes with Aperol, Campari or another favorite liquor, prosecco and soda water. Campari also features prominently in the Negroni, invented in Florence. It comes with gin and vermouth, and just like the spritz, an orange garnish.
Sugar also played a key role in the islands of the Caribbean and Bermuda, where the rum swizzle has attained the status of national drink. Common recipes call for two kinds of rum, black and gold, along with lime or lemon, orange and pineapple juice. Angostura bitters and the liqueur falernum round out the ingredients. Those are merely suggestions, however. If you’ve rum, fruit juice, spice, bitters and the right attitude, your rum swizzle is perfect. The next Bermudian you meet will have the recipe, anyway.
Ngiam Tong Boon, bartender at the Long Bar at the iconic Raffles hotel in Singapore, invested the drink in or around 1915. It was a take on the American gin sling, which had been around for a century or more prior. Singapore at the time was a British colony, and it was frowned upon for colonial women to drink in public. Boon decided to whip up a concoction of gin, cherry brandy, Bénédictine, Cointreau, pineapple juice, lime juice, Angostura bitters and grenadine as a discreet refreshment women could enjoy.
In areas once controlled by the Ottoman Empire, anise-flavored spirits made from raisins or grapes are a key part of the culture. Raki is big in the Balkans and central Asia, and especially in Turkey, the former heart of the empire. Because of its strength, it’s often mixed with cold water or served with cold water on the side. Raki, known colloquially as Lion’s Milk, is a staple of good times and bad times—any time a drink is in order.