Interesting Wines & Liquors from Around the World

Wall of liquors

Since Global Debauchery’s “Fun Cocktails from Around the World” did so well, I’ve decided to create the perfect follow-up—”Interesting Liquors from Around the World.” I’m not encouraging anyone to stay drunk the entire summer, but… we’ve been in quarantine for a little bit now. I think we all have a right to enjoy some of the simple things in life, right? So, once you’ve tested out Global Debauchery’s massive list of cocktails, maybe dabble with some of these international wines and liquors. And much thanks to all the debaucherous travel bloggers out there who pitched in to make this post awesome!


Advocaat from The Netherlands

Advocaat is a traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage. It’s a thick, yellow, creamy, custard-like drink, made from egg yolks, sugar, and brandy. Usually, Advocaat contains about 14–20% of alcohol. And in some cases, vanilla and other spirits may be added to the drink.

Advocaat is traditionally served in a small glass with whipped cream on top and a spoon to “eat” this beverage. It can also be served as a topping with waffles, ice-cream, or poffertjes (a type traditional Dutch food, that look like extremely small pancakes). Which pretty much makes it the perfect addition to the “Liquors from Around the World” list. It’s most popular among the elderly who often drink an Advocaat every Sunday afternoon.

The name Advocaat has an interesting history. It’s derived from “abacate,” a traditional alcoholic beverage from a Brazilian indigenous population. Abacate was made from avocados, but when the Dutch colonials wanted to make the same drink at home, they didn’t have avocados. So they used egg yolk instead. The name “abacate,” lead to the Dutch word “Advocaat,” even though there are no avocados in it.

Advocaat liquor in chocolate cups for "Interesting Liquors from Around the World"

Contribution from: Lara of Both Feet On The Road. Photo credit: Rita E., NeedPix.

Aguardente from Portugal

Aguardente bottle and shot glasses

As far as traditional Portuguese drinks go, it doesn’t get more traditional than Aguardente, or “Fire Water.” This feisty drink, also known as Aguardente de Medronhos has a mighty punch, and contains an alcohol level around 40% when store-bought.

Made from the Medronho berry (strawberries), found in and around the Algarve region in southern Portugal, this spirit is most often enjoyed after dinner as a simple shot. It’s not uncommon for families to distill their own homemade Aguardente, but be warned, these self-made concoctions normally contain even higher levels of alcohol!

If you plan on visiting the Algarve, be sure to research Casa do Medronho, a local initiative showcasing various local distilleries. When visiting Portugal next, be sure to give this traditional Portuguese spirit a try. 

Contribution from: Marco of Travel-Boo. Photo credit: Bruno Aleixo, Wikimedia Commons.

Bride’s Tears from The Netherlands

Bride's Tears shot for "Interesting Liquors from Around the World"

Bruidstranen, or “Bride’s Tears,” is a 17th-century liquor originally believed to be a Dutch medicine due to the Protestants’ conservative approach to liquor. The drink, commonly served in the cramped pubs of Amsterdam, boasts a sweet and spicy taste, thanks to its composition of zesty citrus, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and anise.

Perhaps the most interesting ingredient of the liquor, however, is the gold flakes that swirl around your “slurpertje” (traditional Dutch tulip-shaped drinking glass). These represent the tears of a bride on her wedding day—both tears of happiness for her pending marriage and tears of sadness for leaving her familial home. Traditionally, this spirit was served to wedding guests and, whenever a married couple drinks this liquor, it is intended to represent the husband’s vows to his wife.

Contribution from: Jessica of Uprooted Traveler.

Calvados from France

Calvados is a typical French drink produced in Normandy, one of the most historical places to visit in France. It is most often served as an aperitif—a “before dinner” drink to “warm up the stomach.” (Have I mentioned how much I love France?!) And we definitely need “before dinner” options for a “Liquors from Around the World” guide.

It’s served in small(ish) glasses, either neat or over ice. And can also be added to coffee or served as an after-dinner digestif (to aid digestion). Because it’s sweeter than many other French drinks, it’s often used as a dessert drink. It goes very well with ice cream, chocolate pudding and, of course, crepes.

Calvados is cider which has been distilled twice. Each time it is distilled the alcohol percentage rises, making the final product around 40% alcohol. There are different types of Calvados, all produced within Normandy. The differences in Calvados are where the apples are from to make the cider. Different parts of Normandy produce different apples and have a different distillation process. But the serving style is roughly the same.

Calvados with apples in background

Contribution from: Kat of Wandering Bird.

Ginjinha from Portugal

Ginja, often called by the diminutive name “ginjinha” or “little ginja,” is a cherry liqueur that’s very popular in Portugal, especially in Lisbon and Óbidos. The drink seems to have originated in Lisbon. In fact, the very first bar to sell it commercially is still in operation today. Now run by the fifth generation of the same family, the A Ginjinha bar on São Domingos square is a tiny hole-in-the-wall with standing room only, but remains very popular with locals.

Óbidos, a small medieval walled town about an hour outside of Lisbon, is where ginjinha has really taken off, though. Drinking a shot of ginjinha out of a chocolate cup at one of the town’s many bars is one of the most popular things to do in Óbidos. Chocolate plus interesting liquors from around the world? Yes, please.

The word “ginja” actually refers to a specific type of sour cherry, which is infused in a strong alcohol called aguardente to create the popular drink. Even though the cherries are sour, the resulting drink is quite sweet, as lots of sugar is added during the infusion process. Usually, there will be at least one cherry waiting for you at the bottom of the cup. The cherries soak up quite a lot of alcohol, so eating one can give you more of a buzz than the drink itself.

Ginjinha bottles lined up for "Interesting Liquors from Around the World"

Contribution from: Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan.

Glühwein from Germany

A famous German drink predominantly served in the winter during Christmas time, Gluhwein is an extremely popular mulled wine. This spiced wine has various flavors since it has different regional variations. Gluhwein is typically served warm and in a mug, usually in a festive Christmas market mug, which many people collect as souvenirs.

Germans love simplicity, so while mulled wine may have things added to it for taste, german Gluhwein is just wine. When preparing Gluhwein, it is important to keep it warm, but never boiling. Otherwise, the alcohol will boil off. And we can’t have that on “Liquors from Around the World.” Different kinds of wines may be used to make Gluhwein, however white and red Gluhwein are the usual choices.

There are a few necessary ingredients in order to make the wine. Water, wine, sugar, cinnamon, an orange, and cloves are the most typical ingredients. Served during a party or outdoor festivities, German Gluhwein is a winner anytime it’s cold outside.

Pretty Gluhwein holiday shot

Contribution from: Diana of Travels in Poland. Photo credit: Wallpaper Flare.

Kymyz from Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan has a nomadic past that is still very influential in modern Kyrgyz culture. From traditional handicrafts used to decorate their yurts to the Kyrgyz food. Horses have always been important to the Kyrgyz people and things like horse meat and horse milk are beloved delicacies.

The number one national drink in Kyrgyzstan is Kymyz, or fermented mare’s milk that is believed to have healing properties. In Kyrgyzstan, there are even Kymyz resorts where you can stay to rejuvenate yourself while drinking horse milk throughout the day.

Kymyz is slightly alcoholic and has a sour and fizzy taste. The best Kymyz is available in summer, when it is sold in reused bottles on the side of the road in Kyrgyzstan. You can also find it in supermarkets, however.

To make this yourself at home would be complicated as horse milk is not widely available in most countries. So you would need a mare that gives milk, and lots of patience for the fermentation process. It needs some stirring or churning as well, so the milk acidifies and the resulting yeast turns it into a carbonated mildly alcoholic drink. If this doesn’t belong on “Interesting Liquors from Around the World,” I don’t know what does.

Kymyz on a roadside in used soda bottles for "Interesting Liquors from Around the World"

Contribution from: Ellis of Backpack Adventures.

Laphroaig Triple Wood Scotch from Scotland

Laphroaig is one of nine whisky distilleries on the Isle of Islay off the Scottish west coast. Islay is famous for its heavily peated whiskies, which could truly all belong on a “Liquors from Around the World” guide. Laphroaig is famous for many things, like being the first distillery managed by a woman. Or producing the favorite whisky of Prince Charles. Today, the award-winning distillery is known for its unique whiskies, including the Triple Wood. 

Initially launched exclusively for the duty-free retail market, demand for Laphroaig Triple Wood soon became so strong that the distillery included it in its core range. Unlike most single malt whiskies in Scotland, the Triple Wood is matured in three different types of casks—hence the name. After a while in ex-bourbon barrels from the US, it spends some time in smaller quarter casks. And is perfected in Oloroso sherry oak butts from Europe. Each maturation adds a different flavor profile to the whisky, which ends up with a complex, but incredibly smooth taste.

For many, the strong peatiness might be overpowering at first. But a proper tasting reveals the gentle sweetness of the Oloroso casks and the custard and nut flavors from the bourbon barrels. You can enjoy a dram of Laphroaig Triple Wood anywhere in the world. But nowhere does it taste as good as on a whisky tour to Islay! I recommend no ice, but just a few drops of water to release the full flavors of the whisky.

A Laphroaig dram in front of the Islay distillery

Contribution from: Kathi of Watch Me See.

Malaga Wine from Spain

One of the most typical things to drink when in southern Spain is the wine from Malaga. Also known as Malaga Wine, it’s the most famous beverage from the region. Made out of dry raisins, the wine is extremely sweet.

Malaga Wine is usually served as a dessert wine, but you can also drink it as an aperitivo with salted almonds. Make sure to serve it well chilled. And be careful, because this wine will make you quickly extremely jolly. The perfect wine for “Interesting Liquors from Around the World.”

While you can drink this delicious wine in almost every town in southern Spain, the best one can be found in Pimpi Bar, Malaga, considered one of the best things to do in Malaga, Spain.

Malaga wine bottles on top of barrels for "Interesting Liquors from Around the World"

Contribution from: Paulina of Paulina On The Road. Photo credit: Bodega Vetas, Wikimedia.

Mirto from Sardinia

The first drink that comes to mind when thinking of Sardinia is Mirto. This is a very strong, syrupy liquor made with myrtle berries and leaves, which are commonly found on short bushes along the coast of Sardinia. There are two kinds of Mirto. One is a dark, purple color and it’s the most commonly found (and the one people in Sardinia enjoy the most). The other is “Mirto bianco” (white Mirto), which is made with berries of the white variety.

Though nowadays you can easily find Mirto in stores around Italy, the best kind remains the homemade one. Mirto is usually had at the end of a typical Sardinian meal, much like limoncello would be had in other parts of Italy. However, locals like to enjoy it even socially.

As it is a very strong drink, it is not common to find it mixed in cocktails. However, it can be found in desserts where it has either been used to prepare a sauce or even as a condiment. A great example is that of Mirto tiramisu, where the liquor replaces the coffee that is used in the traditional version.

Mirto shot on a table

Contribution from: Claudia of Strictly Sardinia. Photo credit: jerikOne, Flickr.

Mosto from Spain

Mosto drink in front of a church for "Interesting Liquors from Around the World"

When you find yourself in Jerez de la Frontera, the place where sherry comes from, you must try Mosto at one of the lovely outdoor terraces around town. Mosto is a combination of grape juice and wine. In Jerez, Mosto is the first wine made after harvest, after the grape juice has fermented for around 40 days. It’s a seasonal drink, served only in late autumn and in winter. The restaurants in Jerez which serve Mosto put a flag outside their doors to notify people that they have it.

Mosto is an alcoholic cloudy drink, yellow, and served in small glasses directly from a jug. The taste is quite sharp, with sour notes, but has a fragrant aroma. It doesn’t last for long, and this is why it’s not bottled and sold in stores.

Usually, when you drink Mosto you’ll have the local “ajo caliente,” which is a local dish made out of garlic, vine tomatoes, stale bread and olive oil.

The arrival of Mosto is a special event, and many places around Jerez de la Frontera have fiestas dedicated to it. If you’ve visited Spain before, you know the Spanish love their fiestas, and will organize one for the smallest reason. And there, you can try several “Interesting Liquors from Around the World.”

Contribution from: Joanna of Andalucia In My Pocket.

Ouzo from Greece

We were no strangers to Ouzo before, but we really learned the cultural and social importance of Ouzo on our short trip to Thessaloniki, Greece.

Ouzo is a dry, anise-flavored drink, that is treated as the national Greek alcohol. It’s a sweet, strong alcoholic beverage similar to a liqueur, made from the by-products of grapes after they’ve been used for wine-making. 

The most traditional way to drink Ouzo is with an ice cube or two. You can also add cold water instead. The otherwise colorless Ouzo turns cloudy with water as the anise reacts with the water. It is not a shot and should not be had like one. Ouzo is a slow, social drink.

You go to an Ouzerie in the late afternoon or early evening, order ouzo, drink it slowly over hours while chatting with your friends. It is traditionally accompanied by different mezedes (Greek version of tapas). Mezedes include appetizers such as octopus, salad, sardines, calamari, fried zucchini, and clams, among others. Ouzo is very strong, and drinking it on an empty stomach is a bad idea.

Cloudy ouzo glasses being clinked

Contribution from: Nisha of Nerdy Footsteps.

Pastis from France

Pastis is an anise-flavored spirit with a soft licorice taste, typical of the region of Provence in France. Originally from Avignon, it is especially popular in the city of Marseille where it’s the most common refreshment on hot days. When the sun shines in Marseille, everybody likes to drink pastis!

Pastis became popular after the Absinthe ban in France. It is considered a kind of successor of the Absinthe, even if the two drinks are very different. Pastis contains 40% to 45% of alcohol and is had as an aperitif. It’s served cold, and usually diluted with water to decrease the effect of the high percentage of alcohol.

There are many brands producing Pastis, but Ricart and Bardouin are the most famous ones. In regards to pastis consumption, France sells 130 million of liters of pastis per year.

Pastis and olives for "Interesting Liquors from Around the World"

Contribution from: Elisa of France Bucket List. Photo credit: Heike Schauz, Pixabay.

Scottish Gin

Pretty Scottish gin drink

When you think of drinks in Scotland you automatically think of whisky (with no e), right? Well, there has been an infiltration of distillation and, now in every pub, off-license and supermarket shelves are lined with pretty gin bottles. Some of these bottles are a work of art. Some are even made into art when a Harris tweed shade is mounted on top to create a gin lampshade. But enough about the aesthetic, let’s discuss the flavors. 

Forget your tired bottle of Beefeater, gin is no longer just gin. Infused with every type for flavor, punters can enjoy a tipple that tastes sweet, spicy or like something fresh from their garden. Examples of flavors include rhubarb, elderflower and even Speyside oak aged gin—a nod to the whisky industry. Gin isn’t just about a drink anymore. There are whole gin experiences, such as distillery tours, cocktail making glasses and bus tours with afternoon tea and gin. 

Contribution from: Gemma of Everything Edinburgh.

Soju from South Korea

Soju is the unofficial national alcohol of South Korea and no visit to the country is complete without indulging in a few bottles of the potent drink!

It’s a distilled spirit made from rice, wheat and even potatoes, and is typically enjoyed neat. Whilst it may look like Vodka, the taste isn’t as sharp. There are varying flavors including grapefruit, peach and watermelon to choose from. It’s also common to mix Soju and beer, a drink referred to as Somaek.

There’s never a bad time to have Soju and Koreans pair a few bottles with most of their meals, taking a shot after every few minutes. But, don’t underestimate just how strong Soju is. It’s impressive to see how much Koreans can drink, yet they show little to no side effects.

If you’ve never had Soju before, don’t try to keep up with your Korean friends, as a few shots can get you extremely intoxicated. If there’s one memory I have from living in Korea, it’s the Soju hangover. They are possibly the worst hangovers you can experience. And the throbbing headaches are a sign that you consumed a few too many shots of Soju the night before. The perfect addition to “Interesting Liquors from Around the World.”

Soju shot on a table for "Interesting Liquors from Around the World"

Contribution from: Carryn of Torn Tackies.

Tuica from Romania

Tuica—or Romanian plum brandy—is fermented and distilled plums. Traditionally, it is prepared from October to December throughout Romania (often at home or locally), of only plums and yeast. Some brands are 20–30% alcohol, but many are closer to 55–60% alcohol by volume. When I travelled through Transylvania, I even saw a version branded ‘Dracula Brandy’. 

You will be able to find it at most Romanian bars and restaurants, although they may laugh at you when you order it. The first one I tried was a “lighter version” (pictured above) and it was sweet and delicious with a kick. The second one I tried, of the usual, clear pălincă variety,  was very potent. But my friend and I were adamant not to get laughed at again. So we mixed it with our water when the waiter wasn’t looking and declared how easily the shot went down. (Which seemed to work well. Until another glass magically appeared. Romanians should be famous for their excellent hospitality!)

The drink is enjoyed before dinner, so enjoy one as an aperitif. Definitely one to try when you make it to Romania.

Romanian tuica in glasses

Contribution from: Cassie of Cassie the Hag.

Unicum from Hungary

If you’ve ever been to Budapest, you’ve probably been offered a shot of Unicum—whether as a digestif in a restaurant or on a night out in one of the city’s ruin bars.

Unicum is an herbal digestif made with over 40 herbs and spices to a secret recipe. So secret that only immediate members of the Zwack family, who have owned the company since the end of the 18th century, know it. This is a liquor that truly belongs on the “Interesting Liquors from Around the World” list.

Part of the secret mixture is macerated in water for thirty days—while the other part is distilled—before both are blended and aged in oak casks for six months. This process hasn’t changed for over 200 years!

The important question is, what does it actually taste like? It has a very distinctive herbal taste, almost floral, and is extremely bitter. However, the aging also gives it a deep, long-lasting finish—good if you like the stuff, not so good if you don’t. Whilst it’s a must-try drink when you’re in Hungary, I wasn’t a huge fan of it and I’m not alone. A marketing campaign in America once used the slogan “force yourself” on the account that it’s addictive after the second taste.

There are, of course, other brands of bitters in Hungary, but most Hungarians tend only to drink Unicum. And you will find it in almost every bar, restaurant and household. This is probably because its branding is so strong. Not to mention its all-natural ingredients, apparent medicinal benefits and rich history.

Unicum shots for "Interesting Liquors from Around the World"

Contribution from: Ellen of Adventures With Nell.

More Interesting Liquors from Around the World?

Have your own interesting liquors from around the world to add? By all means, throw it in the comments below! Have you tried any of these before? What was your reaction? Looking forward to hearing some reviews.

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