Cocktails and holidays are a match made in heaven, and for the worldly backpacker, that means new drinks at every new destination. For this list, we’ve set aside the Chang of Thailand (and the infamous Changovers that go with it) and looked instead to the more refined side of imbibing, picking eight top cocktails from around the globe that will always taste better in the place they were invented. Cheers!
Pisco sour in Peru
No matter if you’re heading to conquer the mighty Incan Trail, or simply to kick-back on the Pacific beaches around Lima, this curious mashup of egg whites, Key limes and Angostura bitters is going to be a staple on the cocktail front for sure! It originated in the Peruvian capital back in the early 1900s, and has quickly become the best-loved cocktail in the country. As one of the most famous South American drinks overall, the Pisco sour is served in roadside cantinas and upscale bars alike, right across the country – from historic Cusco to the palm-peppered plazas of Trujillo.
Rum Punch in Jamaica
Whether you head to the bar strips of lively Montego Bay in the north, the James Bond sands of Ocho Rios in the east, the shimmering, shining beaches of Negril in the west, or lively Kingston and its reggae bars in the south, any traveler to Jamaica is sure to encounter the potent concoction that is rum punch sooner or later! Made with a fusion of Appleton rum (one of Jamaica’s best-loved exports) and sour lime juice, along with strawberry syrup and a sloshing of water, the result is a refreshing and colourful tipple that’s perfect company for a Caribbean sunset.
Sazerac in New Orleans
Hailed by many an aficionado as the oldest cocktail in America, the Sazerac of New Orleans is a potent mashup of Deep South bourbons or French cognac and European bitters. It has its roots way back in the 1850s, when it was created by mixing imported absinthe and other spirits in the bars of the city’s iconic French Quarter. Today, it’s legally tagged as New Orleans’s official cocktail, and is available in every one of the smoky speakeasies and jazz bars that pepper The Big Easy - twirl of lemon et al!
Mojito in Cuba
Forget those makeshift mojitos you get in cocktail bars from the UK to Canada and the US, because the bona fide original Cuban mix has something altogether tastier about it (who would have thought a mojito could be even more refreshing!). Fresh Caribbean limes and Cuban sugarcane straight from the mountains are fused together with the distinct peppery flavours of yerba buena (a mint-like herb that grows on the island), giving a unique infusion of citrus and spearmint – perfect for sipping between the Cadillacs and cigar shops of downtown Havana!
Gin and tonic is India
Travel to the sultry cities of the onetime British Raj and it’s easy to see why the classic G and T is such a perennial favourite. Made with regional Bombay booze and fizzy Indian tonic water, it was first introduced into the sub-continent way back in the 1700s, when English colonists realised the high quinine content of the tonics could help fend of malaria (which was then much more of a problem than it is in India today). Oh, and then there’s the refreshing and cooling powers of the cocktail, which are surely welcome after a day trawling the bazaars of Jaipur or lazing on the hot beaches of Goa!
Caipirinha in Rio de Janiero
Travelers on LBW’s Beautiful Brazil itinerary will be sipping plenty a Caipirinha on the sands of Rio. At their finest when imbibed around the lively beach-side neighbourhoods of Ipanema and Copacabana, this cachaça (a local Latin American sugar cane spirit that’s similar to rum) cocktail is the perfect way to get in the samba mood. There are oodles of places to grab one of the ice-packed, mint-packed treats in the city too, with everything from hole-in-the-wall bars to swanky joints touting them just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic shore!
Pimms in England
The drink of choice for the tennis crowds of Wimbledon, and a real treat on those rare warm days in Old Blighty, Pimms is a popular summertime tipple that comes in a whole host of different flavors. There’s PImms No. 6, based on vodka, or Pimms No. 3, packed with spices for a warming concoction. The winner has to be the original Pimms No. 1 though: a gin-based cordial that’s mixed up with oodles of lemonade, fresh fruit and chopped cucumber to make a rejuvenating cocktail to remember. Be warned: this one goes down quickly!
Singapore Sling in Singapore (obviously)
The legacy of the revered cocktail mixer Ngiam Tong Boon, who made his fame shaking these colourful magenta mixes behind the bar of the Raffles Hotel, the Singapore Sling is a medley of gin and cherry brandy, poured over with orange and tropical fruit juices. The drink is typically served in a curvy hurricane glass and comes with a frothy beer-like top that’s infused with the flavor of pineapple. There are now countless different recipes out there for the Singapore Sling, but there’s no question that the finest are served in its very home: Raffles of Singapore.
"Rich is a traveler, writer and filmmaker who's always after somewhere new to go. He's been hopping around the globe since 2011, from Poland to Paris, Mumbai to Ho Chi Minh. He runs several travel sites of his own, from Ski Eastern to Live Krakow to Crabs Move Sideways. When he's not planning his next trip, he's usually listening to 50s jazz, surfing in Wales, skiing in the Alps, or just swigging (too much) great craft beer."
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