Six traditional European tipples to try this year

12 March 2018

Nothing says “I’m on holiday” more than a #nofilter Insta-snap against the backdrop of an exotic location (cue ocean-view background), complete with a crimson sunset and colourful, local drink in your hand.

Every holiday destination has its traditional tipple of choice, explains Nicky Potgieter, Leisure Marketing Leader for Flight Centre. Sometimes, sharing the local cocktail is so culturally meaningful, it can be as important as indulging in a traditional meal. “Think Pisco Sours in Peru, Sake in Japan and vodka shots in the Ukraine, for example.”

“One of the most memorable ways of connecting with locals is by partaking responsibly in their drinking traditions, as well as learning about the alchemy and cultural significance behind their most famous, homegrown drinks. It’s not just about knocking back a shot of whiskey in Scotland, or skulling a glass of wine in France, but more so being open to trying something different, and taking the time to immerse yourself in the customs of others around the world.”

Potgieter offered up a short list of European tipples for you to raise your glass to on your next European holiday.

Say “opa!” to Greek ouzo

Taking a swig of ouzo is not just for tourists, it’s a local ritual. This dry anise-flavoured aperitif (also consumed in Cyprus and Lebanon) represents a celebration of a cherished culture, where with just one swig, everyone is welcome to join in. This fiery drink it is not for the faint of heart, and although most Greeks would scoff at it being diluted in a mixer, you can ease your tastebuds into it by trying it as a lemonade - ούζο λεμοναδα. Take a bottle home with you to mix with freshly squeezed lemon juice, water, mint leaves and honey.

Sip Sangria in Spain

Most people will already be familiar with the oh-so-easy to sip Sangria. This fresh, fruity wine-based cocktail has roots firmly planted in Spain and is best paired with plates of tapas. This European tipple was made for the summer, especially after a long day exploring cities like Madrid, or Granada. Nothing beats the original, served in a pitcher at a local cantina, but it is incredibly easy to recreate at home using red wine, chopped fruit, orange juice, cinnamon and a nip of rum if you dare.

Limoncello on the Amalfi Coast

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur produced in Southern Italy. Why lemons? Well, lemons are a staple produce in this region, and as the saying goes, when life gives you make lemon liqueur.  Make your way around the Gulf of Naples to the coast of Amalfi, on your next holiday to Italy and you’ll learn about its legacy, and how Italian families have passed down the secret recipes for many generations. Limoncello is delicious and makes for a superb gift to take back home for friends and family, who can also drizzle it over vanilla ice-cream.

Go for glühweinn

We can’t forget about authentic German glühweinn during a European winter, when the snow begins to fall, and the traditional Christmas markets begin to make their appearance, marking the start of the festive season. This citrusy spiced wine (and sometimes an extra shot of rum or amaretto) makes it much easier to spend an extra few hours out in the cold. Pair a glass of this traditional European tipple with a side of sizzling-hot bratwurst at Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, and there you have it, your new favorite Christmas memory.

Belgian-style fruity beer

For a refreshing take on the classic pint, Belgian fruit beers are not to be missed on your next trip to Europe (especially if you are a bearded craft beer enthusiast). Traditionally made with sour Morello cherries, the sensational fruity flavours added to the final brew nowadays (also called kriek) includes raspberries (framboise), peaches (pêche), and even black currants (cassis). The spontaneous fermentation of the fruit creates a beer unlike any other with its sour, dry, sweet, earthy and bright flavours, depending on the fruity ingredients. 

Aperol spritzers in Italy

The story goes that Austrians occupying Venice in the early 1800s found Venetian wine too strong so they diluted it with a spritzen, or sprinkling of water. In 1920 the Barbieri brothers famously invented Aperol, a bitter using orange, rhubarb and gentian. This ignited the start of the neon-orange Aperol Spritz, crafted with 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 part soda water and of course, a large green olive as a garnish. Be sure to sample this popular pre-dinner, aperitif when you find yourself in the northern reaches of Italy.