Hungary –pálinka– Egészségére!
“Pálinka is a type of fruit brandy, distilled from a variety of fruits grown mainly on the Great Hungarian Plains. It is a strong and intense alcoholic beverage and comes in a variety of flavors, including apricot (barack), pear (körte), plum (szilva) and cherry (cseresznye). Pálinka has a long history, dating back more than 500 years. Originally pálinka used to be considered more as a medicine than a drink, as it was believed to be a digestive.”
Bulgaria – rakia – Наздраве!
“Rakia (ракия) is the traditional drink of Bulgaria. It is a clear alcoholic beverage made by the distillation of fermented fruit. It has a high alcohol content varying anywhere between 40% and 95% alc. (80 to 190 proof), making it a potent drink. There are different types of rakia, all depending on what fruit it is made of (grapes, plums, apricots, pears, apples, cherries, figs, quinces). In Bulgaria, rakia made from grapes is the most popular, but slivovitza (rakia made from plums) is also popular. Making rakia at home has been a part of Bulgarian traditions for centuries.”
Greece – ouzo, metaxa – Γεια μας!
“This anise-flavored aperitif is a symbol of Greek culture and has many scores of thousands of enthusiasts in Greece and Cyprus.
Ouzo is traditionally mixed with water, becoming cloudy white, and served with ice cubes in a small glass. Ouzo can also be drunk straight from a shot glass. Served with a small plate of a variety of appetizers called mezes, usually small fresh fish, fries, olives and feta cheese, ouzo has a smooth yet distinctly sweetened taste that can bring light-headedness in only a few shots.”
“Metaxa (Greek: Μεταξά) is a Greek liqueur based on brandy blended with wine and flavorings. It is exported to over 65 countries.”
Brazil – caipirinha – Saúde!
“The original version is made of Cachaça, sugar, lime and ice, all mixed up in a glass. There are however several other flavours, where different fruits substitute the lime: red berries, passion fruit, cashew, tangerine, and lychee are just some of them.
Caipirinhas can also be made with different alcoholic beverages. The Sakerinhasubstitutes the Cachaça for Sake, a japanese fermented drink made from rice. This results in a smoother drink. There is also a version made from vodka, named Caipiroskaor Caipivodka, depending on the region where it is ordered.”
Mexico – tequila – ¡Salud!
“Tequila is Mexico’s National Drink, and one of the icons synonymous with Mexico. The spirit is distilled in just a small handful of locations in Mexico; it is tightly regulated to ensure quality and enjoyed widely by Mexicans as it is by people all over the world.”
Japan – sake – Kanpai!
“Sake is an alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. Often referred to as nihonshu (日本酒) in Japanese (to differentiate it from “sake” which in Japanese can also refer to alcohol in general), the drink enjoys widespread popularity and is served at all types of restaurants and drinking establishments. And as interest in Japanese cuisine has grown internationally, sake has started to become a trendy and recognizable drink around the world.
The foundations of good sake are quality rice, clean water, koji mold and yeast. They are combined and fermented in precise processes that have been refined over the centuries. Typically filtered (although unfiltered products are also available), the resulting clear to slightly yellowish rice wines have an alcohol content of around 15 percent and relatively mild flavor profiles, ranging from light and crisp to richer, more substantial, fruity notes. Sake pairs well with almost any kind of food but compliments the delicate flavors of traditional Japanese meals particularly well.”
To be continued …