If you’re partial to a tipple and like to travel, a themed trip based around tasting all the various liqueurs produced around Europe might be just your thing. It’s a tradition in many European countries to drink a digest if after dinner, a strong liqueur to settle the stomach and aid digestion after eating. They differ from country to country and are steeped in history and tradition, which makes it a real learning experience alongside your trip.
So where should you go and what should you drink?
When you can get over to here on flights to Gran Canaria, which operate frequently and are well priced, it’s a shame not to make the most of this destination. The history of rum is intertwined with the history of these islands, as America’s first sugar canes originated from the Canaries via the West Indies. There are centuries of rum tradition here, with tasty honey rum available only in the Canary Islands, and caramel rum is also a particular specialty.
In this part of Europe you’ll find rakia: a fruit brandy made from fermented fruit and a traditional drink of countries such as Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia. It’s really strong, really tasty, and flavors include plum (also known as slivovitz), apricot, cherry, pears, and grape.
The Italian digestif is Amaro, a bitter drink available in several varieties and flavors: some are very sweet like Averna from Sicily, and others are traditionally very bitter.
Back to Eastern Europe for the national drink of Prague: Becherovka. This is a cross between a liqueur and Italian Amaro, with flavors of cinnamon and cloves, with an after flavor of liquorice. It’s great frozen, and it is a fantastic apéritif.
In many Scandinavian countries, the traditional digestif is Aquavit. It’s distilled from grain or potatoes like vodka, but it’s full of the flavors of spices such as dill, fennel, cardamom, anise and coriander! Flavors, colors and traditions vary between Scandinavian countries: In Denmark it is commonly brown or red, and you don’t usually sip it, you drink it down in one. In Sweden it’s frequently accompanied by a drinking song, and in Norway the drink is aged in oak sherry barrels which sail across the equator twice before returning home and being drunk.
France is famous for its brandies, and there are many different variations to try. The most famous is cognac, but there’s also Armagnac and calvados to taste. They’re all delicious and worth some serious experimentation.
Drinking liqueur around Europe is truly an adventure: you’ll explore new tastes, learn about old traditions, and make a lot of new friends on your liqueur journey. Have a tremendous time!
Images by Editor B and Jirka Matousek, used under Creative Commons license.
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