The perfect kick: trying the local alcohol of a new country/region!
So when I got my travel boots on last year, I made a dash for all the local booze. And obviously, it makes perfect sense to have the right crazy people to get inebriated with! Thought I’d share my experience with each, listing the place I visited and then the drinks I tried!
1. China (Beijing)
Baijiu (Rice wine), Tsingtao (Beer)
Sooo, my MBA journey at HKU-LBS started with Beijing. One of the most memorable experiences, a big part of which was Baijiu and the things it did to us. Haha for 4 RMB, you get a tiny bottle of explosive shit. With 40-60% ABV and a taste very much like vomit IMO, Baijiu was my classmates’ weapon for destruction, EVERY NIGHT. Okay, not every night, but they went crazeballs with it. At first, we were mixing soft drinks but eventually it was just straight off the bottle. And the stories it created! #notsayinganymore. Glad to have the crazy MBA classmates to experience this one! Gānbēi!
I liked Tsingtao – favourite choice on campus! Yes, we were on a campus in Beijing, learning Mandarin and drinking beer. That’s the thing with China, the alcohol was so cheap, there was no reason, not to!
2. Indonesia (Bali)
Bintang (Beer), Bintang Radler (I’d call it lemon juice)
Brought in the new year 2016 in Bali with my craziest friends from school. I honestly don’t remember the particular taste of Bintang but I am sure I liked it 😛 We stocked up our villa with a lot of Bintang, but there was a lot of other booze happening as well.
Bintang Radler is this light lemon beer? I am not sure but it was our substitute for water. Who goes on a vacation and has water, right? It was only 2% ABV but hey wake up and let’s start drinking Radler.
3. Japan (Tokyo, Atami, Kyoto, Osaka)
Asahi (Beer), Yamazaki (Whiskey), Sake (Rice Wine), Umeshu (Kind of like Plum wine)
Kanpai! Japan, how do I even start? My classmate, Kou san organized the most epic trip ever. I absolutely fell in love with the country and its hospitality. The best part was the visit to the Suntory Yamazaki distillery. Yamazaki was named the best whiskey in the world. The tasting experience was fantastic- tried 4 different whiskeys (one of which was a reserve) and I believe got drunk with just that. Could feel the smoothness or not of the various types – quite revealing!
I discovered that I love Sake- the perfect accompaniment with sushi. Well, it is quite potent for me and I enjoy it cold. One surprising thing was how much I liked Umeshu -fruit based liqueur. I usually dislike sweet alcohol but this was yummers!
4. UK (Manchester, London)
On a road trip from London to Manchester, the crazy MBAs chanced upon this countryside pub. Decided to just stop over and see the place. It was a pub with a farm behind- such amazing views. Locally brewed beer is the best in the UK. I don’t have perfect knowledge about the different brews, but there was such crazy variety! Excellent beer and superb location. I loved how each brew had its unique flavour.
5. Czech Repulic (Prague, Cesky Krumlov)
Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser-Budvar, Kozel
Czech Republic- the beer capital of the world – calling beer “liquid bread” and consuming the highest 161 litres per capita, this country knows how to drink! They are brewing since 993 AD it seems. I went on a family vacation and it was lovely for the four of us to bond over beer. My dad went for the Kozel black and oh my- it was this smoky brew- I simply loved it. The Pilsner Urquell is a pale lager beer at its finest. Interesting fact about Budweiser- the original Budweiser was founded in the city of Budweis in 1785. The US company Anheuser-Busch borrowed the name for its famous Budweiser. So there are two Buds- the Czech and the American.
Singapore Sling (Gin-based cocktail)
On the career trek to Singapore, I tried the famous Singapore Sling. I didn’t like it though, too sweet for me. The partying in Singapore was cray though. Sleeping at 3 am and dashing for a company visit at 8 am, not the best memory 😛
5. India (Delhi)
Bira 91 (Beer)
You can’t not be jumping with joy when such a fantastic wheat beer is locally crafted in your country by a kickass beer start-up? Whattt! Although the first batch was produced in Belgium, they are now shifting production to India. It became so popular in India, it sold out! Thankfully, back now. I LOVED the Bira White. Just perfection. And so proud. Obviously with besties, it just tastes the best too.
6. Myanmar (Yangon, Bali)
Myanmar beer, Palm wine
I really liked Myanmar beer- perfect taste! As for the palm wine (made out of sap of the palm tree), it was like rice wine – again only if one wants to get smashed up.
7. Spain (Ibiza)
I had some excellent red wine sangria. I understand I should have more knowledge than just that, but hey we were in Ibiza. Haha
8. Hong Kong
Haven’t figured what’s local here? Lived for 8 months during the MBA- had an alcohol overload, but I guess it would be rice wine. Back to point 1, not going there again!
9. South Korea
Soju (Kind of like rice wine)
I haven’t visited South Korea, but I tried Soju in a Korean bar in Hong Kong. One of my Korean classmates, Gemma took us to this lovely Korean bar! The Koreans love their soju. I was scared to try (given Baijiu’s experience), but it wasn’t like that at all. A tad bit sweet and can be potent (up to 45% ABV), taken neat. I liked it, although no affinity, yet.
Many more regions and cities to explore and more drinks to come with the wildest of company. Cheers to life!