Whiskey, tequila, vodka and rum are the primary colors of American alcohol, but the world outside our borders craves and celebrates strong spirits that goes beyond these. And if we could get our hands on these more easily, then we would too. Here are some awesome liquors from around the world.
10. Turkish Raki
Raki is a liquor that is not only popular in Turkey, but also considered its national alcoholic beverage. It is an anise-flavored apéritif that is often served with seafood or Turkish meze (appetizers), such as yogurt dip or eggplant puree. It’s usually consumed neat, with chilled water in a separate glass, or mixed with water or ice cubes. Diluting Raki makes it a milky color. It is known as “aslan sutu” or “lion’s milk” or “the milk for the strong” as it is strong often consumed straight up.
9. Korean Soju
Soju is a distilled beverage native to Korea. It is clear, colorless and usually consumed neat. It’s made from rice, wheat, barley, potatoes, sweet potatoes or tapioca. It is strong and it often consumed alongside Korean fried chicken and/or while smoking cigarettes.
8. Thai Mekhong
This Thai spirit is made from 95% sugar cane/molasses and 5% rice, then blended with a secret recipe of herbs and spices native to Thailand, producing a distinctive aroma and taste. It is a welcome addition to a variety of cocktails, the most famous of which is called “Sabai Sabai” (a refreshing drink with club soda, Thai basil, simple syrup and lemon juice.)
7. Peruvian Pisco
Peruvian Pisco can be made with many different types of grapes, which means it can have a wide variation in taste, fragrance, viscosity and appearance. It is never diluted after being distilled, so it enters the bottle directly at its distillation strength.
6. Italian Grappa
This aromatic, grape-based brandy is of Italian origin, but enjoyed by the people of many European countries, often as an after-dinner drink to aid with digestion. It goes well with salted nuts – especially pistachios.
5. Panamanian Seco Herrerano
This clear liquor is the national alcoholic beverage of Panama. It is distilled from sugarcane and either consumed straight or in mixed drinks. A popular Seco Herrerano drink is called “Chichita Panama,” and is made with grapefruit and pineapple juice. In some parts of the country it is even drunk with milk or coconut milk.
4. Icelandic Brennivín
A clear, unsweetened Schnapps varietal that is considered to be Iceland’s national beverage. It is often drunk on special occasions. It is made of fermented potato or grain and flavored with caraway and cumin among other ingredients.
ABV: Around 40%.
Fun fact: It’s referred to as “Black Death.”
3. Greek Ouzo
Like Raki, Ouzo is often mixed with water in a small, ice cube filled glass, making it cloudy and white. It can also be drunk straight for a shot glass. It is often served with mezes, or appetizers like fish, olives and feta. It is reminiscent of absinthe in taste (with flavorings such as coriander, cloves, cinnamon, anise and star anise), but smoother.
ABV: Usually between 40-50%.
2. Brazilian Cachaca
In recent years the distilled spirit, Cachaca, a distilled spirit that is made from sugar cane juice, has gained international recognition. Brazilians produce and drink Cachaca, often in their Caioirinha de Uva cocktail which includes a mix of crushed lime, sugar, Cachaca, ice and semisweet wine, giving it a grapey flavor. Outside of Brazil it’s used for tropical drinks.
ABV: Between 38-48%.
1. Finnish Viina
This clear alcohol is native to Finland and created using a 200-step continuous distillation that is designed to create a high-purity spirit. It is diluted with spring water and sugar, and is similar to vodka in taste, and often mixed with Coke, sparkling water, juice or energy drinks.
ABV: Usually between 30-38%.