Trying local food and drinks is quite possibly the best part of traveling. Eating and drinking engage so many of our senses — taste and smell and vision. It’s no wonder that so many of our most powerful travel memories revolve around meals and drinks! We’ve compiled what we think are some of the world’s best beverages and where you can find them. Grab your passport and your thirst for adventure, and let’s explore the world one drink at a time!
Cappuccino in Rome, Italy
The Italians might not have discovered coffee, but they can arguably claim to have perfected it. There’s a reason that the employees at your favorite local coffee bar are called baristas – the coffee culture we enjoy in America borrows heavily from Italian traditions.
If you’re a coffee lover, there’s no more perfect way to start the morning than with a cappuccino at a coffee bar in Rome. The combination of rich, frothy milk and deep, intense espresso coffee can’t be beat! You’ll notice that most of the locals drink their cappuccinos and espressos standing at the bar. Be prepared to pay a little extra if you want to sit down at a table to savor your coffee! (It’s worth it.) Another rule to remember: don’t order cappuccino after 12pm when you’re traveling in Italy. Italians consider it to be appropriate in the mornings only. You can get your afternoon caffeine fix with an espresso, or kick it up a notch by ordering a caffè corretto, an espresso with a shot of high-octane grappa liquor!
Pinot Noir in Martinborough, New Zealand
Oenophiles have their choice of incredible winemaking regions to visit. You might have thought about visiting vineyards in France, California, or even Chile or South Africa, but our pick for top wine destination is New Zealand!
Travelers typically visit New Zealand for the unparalleled natural beauty of the landscape, or to enjoy adventure sports like bungee jumping or mountain biking. But New Zealand is also a wine lover’s paradise! Less than 100km from the Wellington Airport is Escarpment Vineyard in Martinborough, New Zealand. Their 2013 Pinot Noir Martinborough Kupe Single Vineyard was ranked by Wine Spectator as one of the 10 best wines of 2015! Prefer whites? Escarpment is known for their Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, too. New Zealand is also famous for their Sauvignon Blanc, particularly from the Marlborough region of the South Island.
Are you getting thirsty yet? We are! The next stop on our tour of the world’s best beverages is an especially refreshing one.
Limonada de Coco in Medellin, Colombia
When you think about Colombia, you might think about coffee. That makes sense, considering that Colombia grows and exports some of the world’s best coffee. What you might not know about Colombia is that juice is a major part of their cuisine. Colombians love fresh fruit juices. They drink juice at every meal, and the city streets are full of little shops and stands that make fresh juice to order.
Colombian juices are typically made by blending fresh or frozen fruit with either water or milk. Many juices are further sweetened with cane sugar. The classic Colombian juice, which you’ll find at every restaurant and juice stand, is limonada (limeade). Unlike the lemonade that Americans are familiar with, Colombian limeade is made by blending the whole lime — skin and all — with water, ice, and sugar. It’s simultaneously tart and sweet, the perfect accompaniment to rich Colombian meals of grilled meats and heavy starches. Limonada de coco takes limeade to a whole new level. Instead of water, the limes and sugar are blended with creamy coconut milk. The resulting creation is foamy, tangy, and utterly decadent. You can find limonada de coco just about everywhere in Colombia, but we think that the warm, flower-filled city of Medellin is the perfect place to enjoy one.
Hefeweizen in Lindau, Germany
No list of the world’s best beverages would be complete without a great beer! There are as many kinds of beer as there are kinds of beer drinkers, from light lagers to thick, dark stouts. We have a particular fondness for the German wheat beer known as hefeweizen. The best hefeweizens are brewed in the southern German state of Bavaria. While you can certainly find lots of great spots to enjoy a hefeweizen in Munich, the main city of Bavaria, we urge you to head a bit further south. On the banks of the Bodensee lake, you’ll find the resort town of Lindau. It’s a peaceful spot, popular as a vacation destination for German families. During the day, you can drink your hefeweizen while soaking up the sun at an outdoor cafe overlooking the lake. At night, wander down the winding narrow streets of the old town, where you’ll find taverns that have been in business for hundreds of years. Wherever you order your beer, don’t ask for a wedge of lemon to go with your hefeweizen. That’s an American thing! The flavor of the fresh, locally brewed hefeweizen in Bavaria should be enjoyed on its own.
Caipirinha in Rio de Janiero, Brazil
There’s no city that knows how to party like Rio de Janiero. When it’s time to party, there’s no drink like a cocktail. That’s why our list of the world’s best beverages — and the world’s best places to enjoy them — has to include the national cocktail of Brazil, the caipirinha.
The classic caipirinha is made with sugar, lime, crushed ice, and cachaça. Cachaça, made from sugarcane juice, is the most popular distilled liquor in Brazil. Cachaça comes in two varieties, white and gold. The gold variety is an aged liqour, and is meant for sipping like a fine whiskey. The white kind is unaged, and is what you want for a caipirinha.
Caipirinhas are made by muddling lime and sugar in a glass with a wooden muddler. Crushed ice and cachaça are then added. It sounds simple, but bartenders in Rio pride themselves on knowing exactly what proportions to use and precisely how long the lime and sugar should be muddled. We think you should try a few made by an expert in Rio before you attempt to make them at home!
Did we miss one of your favorites on our list of the world’s best beverages? Tell us in the comments!