The following is our top ten list of exotic drinks for those of you who want to be travel adventurers in your very own neck of the woods:
1. Scorpion Vodka
This Southeastern Asian vodka is just like its sounds. That’s right, vodka infused with herbs and a scorpion (wouldn’t want to forget the herbs)! While this drink traditionally is reputed to have medicinal and re-invigorative benefits, before drinking this vodka, you have to ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky?” If you’re particularly bold, you’ll go with the black scorpion vodka. Oddly enough, offerings for scorpion vodkas are prolific online.
2. Spicy African Mead
This South African favorite infused with chili peppers added to the honey mead flavor is a kick and half. It’s spicy, but not too spicy and tastes great! For a bottle of it, check out Honey Sun Iqhilika’s African Birds Eye Chili.
3. Winter in Salzburg
This one is my personal favorite (it involves fire)! I first had this awesome drink at the Central-European-cuisine restaurant, Bohemian House in Chicago, IL. I fell in love and had to try to make my own recreation.
So here it is (and it's delicious!)(makes 2 cups):
Slice a lemon into round slices, take a round lemon slice and insert cloves into the lemon securely in different parts of the pulp on one side of the slice. Carefully place the lemon with the inserted cloves into your cup.
Then, heat about 1.5 cups of a 80-20 lemonade and apple cider mix to a boil, and pour about 5.5 oz of the mix into each cup over the lemon-clove slices (being careful not to dislodge the cloves).
Next, add 1.5 to 2 oz of Cognac and a dash of St. Germain. I have also tried subbing in Grand Marnier in lieu of the Cognac and the St. Germain and it worked out with a great taste as well.
Next, slide a rosemary sprig into the cup that is long enough so that part of it protrudes out. Light the protruding part on fire- yes, light it on fire! Let the leaves burn for five to six seconds to release the oils and pleasing scent of the rosemary and then blow the fire out carefully (this drink has been found to be more readily enjoyed without the fire department in your home).
Now you are ready to drink, cheers! This one’s guaranteed to warm you up on a cold night.
4. Snake Wine
If you enjoy watching the dinner scene at the palace in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, then you’re going to love this one! First brought to my attention by the Mystery Traveler, this wine is not for the faint of heart. It is made by infusing entire (generally poisonous) snakes into grain alcohol or rice wine for months (though scorpions have been known to be used as well- pick your poison!). It is consumed in both Vietnam and China. The poison from the snakes is dissolved and rendered harmless in the alcohol and the drink is reputed to have healthy and invigorating medicinal properties. The wine is drunk in shots or small cups. If you’re feeling particularly brave, believe it or not, you can find it on Amazon!
5. Tinto de Verano
This Spanish summer drink is simple and yet tasty (and it’s really a great drink year round). I first had one in a hidden flamenco bar that opened from a hatch door in an alleyway in Seville and the rest is history. This drink is reminiscent of a sangria, but it has a distinct flavor all its own. To make it, just add two to three handfuls of ice to a cup. Next fill the cup 1/3 full with a cabernet (even a lower grade cabernet will do) and then add sprite (I use sprite, but carbonated lemonade can also be used) until the cup is full. Note, I use 1 part cabernet to 2 parts sprite, but if you have a tall glass allowing for enough carbonated beverage to be added, it can be as much as 1 part cabernet and 1 part sprite, depending on how much alcohol you want in it. If the drink does not get very fizzy at the top, then you know that you have not added enough sprite (or carbonated lemonade). This one’s simple, but delicious!
This 90 to 148 proof anise-flavored alcohol has a long and storied history, including its consumption by famed writer, Ernest Hemingway. Available in glasses of clear, green, and blue varieties, this incredibly potent alcoholic drink, which used to contain the hallucinogenic, wormwood, still packs a wallop in its alcohol content despite the fact that the wormwood has been prohibited. You would be hard-pressed to find a bottle of absinthe with wormwood (though I have seen some bars in Prague in Eastern Europe that still have a sealed bottle from the old days). Absinthe is best prepared with a cube of sugar dissolved into it by dripping 3 to 4 oz of cold spring water onto the sugar cube as it rests on a slotted absinthe spoon. This sweetens the absinthe, which is otherwise quite bitter. Wormwood or not, don’t drink too much or it will have you seeing stars (sorry, no green fairy nowadays).
7. Slovakian, Dark Forest Mead
This second mead is my favorite type of mead, dark forest honey mead- absolutely the best mead I’ve ever had! Apimed produces one of the most famous Medovina meads (having garnered many awards). They sell online at Apimed.sk. Make sure that you select the English speaking option on their website.
8. Mama Juana4>
This drink from the Dominican Republic is made by soaking tree bark, roots, and herbs in a bottle with red wine, rum, and honey. Reputed by some to have curative properties from digestion and circulatory benefits to sexual potency, this drink (which has also been said to be an aphrodisiac) tastes similar to port. With the constituent herbs originally prepared as a herbal tea by the Taino Indians, this drink can be made by buying the bark, roots, and herbs on Amazon (just search for Mama Juana on it), curing the bark and herbs in a bottle with white rum for 5 days, pouring out the resulting liquid (which will be bitter as it contains the initial bitterness of the bark/roots), then adding red wine, rum, and honey to the ingredients in the bottle (fill a bottle with 30% rum, 30% red wine and 30% honey), and letting the ingredients soak with the alcohol for a couple of days. You’ll know if you get it right!
9. Hot Matcha-Infused Sake4>
This Japanese drink is great, but you have to use a high-quality sake or it won’t come out correctly. You’ll also need a sake set with a sake carafe and sake cups (fairly cheap and easy to come by).
Prepare a hot cup of matcha by bringing 6 oz of hot water to a boil, adding 1.5 teaspoons of premium matcha to it (if you need matcha, you can buy it online at www.tgtea.com), and using a matcha whisk with zigzag motions or electric whisk (repeatedly moving it so as to draw an “8” in your cup) to integrate the matcha into your water. The matcha should be frothy at the top.
Next, add the cup of matcha 1 part per 8 parts sake in a pot. Stir the resulting mix and then bring it to a boil on your stove. After it has boiled, stir it again and pour it into your sake carafe (you will likely have some extra sake, so make sure you have a spare bottle or container available to store the rest for later when it cools).
Now you’re ready to serve up this hot drink. If you’ve done it properly, it should go done extremely smoothly.
A drink from the Philippines, Lambanog is an alcohol made from the sap of the unopened coconut flower. To make this alcohol, locals climb atop acres of trees to collect only small quantities of the nectar from the coconut palm flower. (Whoa, all the way up there?! Coco-nuts!)
The taste and buzz are worth it though. This drink is 80+ proof (it may go as high as 166 proof with a second distillation) and is traditionally flavored with raisins, though other flavors such as mango, pineapple, and blueberry have also been used more recently. If you want to try this one, Infanta Lambanog is a more well-known brand of it.