In 2014, we travel around the globe in 52 libations! For more information and the drink’s recipe/country’s related article, click on the photo or drink name:
#1 CANADA – Crown Royal Whiskey
Canada is such a wicked country – natural beauty, poutine, gorgeous snow bunnies, and the best damn sport known to man – that it should come as no surprise the country produces a pretty wicked whiskey too. Introduced in 1939 after a royal visit from England’s monarchs, this gold winning, 80 proof whiskey is sure to please! Crown Royal comes in regular, black, or maple flavoured.
#2 CUBA – Havana Club Rum
Cuba enjoys fine cigars, alluring music, beautiful beaches, and the world famous Havana Club Rum. First established in 1878, this highly renowned brand was officially nationalized by the Cuban government after the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Unfortunately our American friends cannot get real Havana Club at home, but for the rest of us, crack open a bottle, toast the saints with a few drops (as per Cuban tradition), and try out a few of these fine recipes!
#3 SOUTH AFRICA – Amarula Cream
South Africa brings us a bit of adventure with it’s fascinating wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and intriguing people. It also brings us to our next liquor, Amarula Cream, made from the fruit of the Marula tree or oft-called Elephant or Marriage Tree. The yellow fruit is harvested to create a wine that is double-distilled into a clear spirit and oak aged for 24 months for natural wood spice flavours of vanilla and toast. Sugar and cream are then added to the mix to ultimately produce this pleasantly fruity 17% cream liquor which is sold around the world so that one can enjoy a bit of the “Spirit of Africa” in their glass!
#4 ENGLAND – Tanqueray Gin
England is chock full of history (hell, the Sip Advisor even lived there for a time, as did Mrs. Sip) and regardless of what you’re into, there’s something for everybody. In the early days of my drinking, I wasn’t sure about gin. The juniper smell and taste threw me off, but I’ve come to absolutely adore the potent spirit, especially flavoured varieties. While other countries distill gin, the English brands are by far the best. Leaving the Dominican Republic, Mrs. Sip found me the Tanqueray Rangpur Gin and I quickly snatched it up, as I’d never seen it before. It’s comprised of rangpur limes, ginger, and bay leaves. Along with their original offering, there’s also a discontinued Tanqueray Malacca Gin, which featured grapefruit flavor. If I could track this down, I’d be in heaven.
#5 AUSTRIA – Mata Hari Absinthe
Austria’s beautiful cities are matched equally by the nation’s scenic countryside. It’s a hub for classical music – many of the greats practiced there – and has worked its way into great portions of world history. As for Absinthe, there is a mystique that forever surrounds it, thanks to the spirit’s hallucinogenic effects and legends of the green fairy. The first time I had any, I was certainly flying high, but that’s probably because we were visiting a Schnapps factory and museum in Austria (where Mrs. Sip and I picked up this bottle) and were sampling anything and everything.
#6 ESTONIA – Vana Tallinn
Estonia is a hidden gem of Northern Europe, as Mrs. Sip and I learned during our Baltic Cruise. I thought it was just an added stop amongst popular destinations like Russia, Sweden, and Finland, but soon found myself at home in the port city of Tallinn. I used up all my Vana Tallinn for our sojourn into Estonia and was relieved to learn a local liquor store has recently started shipping the rum-based liqueur into my area. Vana Tallinn is infused with natural spices, such as citrus oil, cinnamon and vanilla. They also market Winter Spice, Chocolate Cream, and Coffee Cream variants.
#7 AUSTRALIA – Shiraz/Syrah Wine
Australia is one of the most picturesque countries on the planet, which is a little surprising given its origins as a commonwealth penal colony. When you’re done taking in the place’s natural beauty, it’s time to get a little crazy and hit the sand and surf, while always being on the lookout for all the native animals that can harm you. The Aussies are known for many wine varieties (perhaps to put their mind at ease with all those deadly creatures), but they specialize in Shiraz/Syrah offerings. These red wines were possible because of James Busby, who brought the grapes to Australia in 1832 and the rest is history.
#8 UNITED STATES – Jim Beam Bourbon
While it’s not a favourite place for everyone, I absolutely love the United States. It contains so many cities and sites that are beloved by myself and an infinite amount more that I still want to visit and experience. Among them are the distilleries that spread across the country. I’m a big bourbon enthusiast, so Jim Beam in Kentucky is a natural starting point and from there, the possibilities are endless. Jim Beam also markets Black Cherry (a particular beloved liquor), Honey Tea, and Cinnamon bourbons, as part of their Red Stag series.
#9 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Mamajuana
The Dominican Republic and Santo Domingo in particular is the first city of the Americas, a distinction the island country is proud to hold, along with its reputation of creating baseball stars. Mamajuana is the national liquor of the Domincan and it is commonly made by blending rum, red wine, and honey along with other ingredients such as tree bark and herbs for flavouring. You can buy the liquor in two ways: either ready to consume or a package of the dry ingredients necessary to make the concoction yourself. At our all-inclusive in the DR, one could get blitzed on shots of the aphrodisiac and the Sip Advisor did exactly that… especially when losing card games to the very capable Mrs. Sip.
#10 DENMARK – Akvavit
Denmark is home to one of the greatest creations ever conceived: LEGO. It is also the infamous setting for William Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Hamlet. Now, if only someone took the time to tell the story of Hamlet, using LEGO, you’d be able to bundle the country’s greatest contributions into one neat, tidy package. As for Akvavit, the thought of a dill-infused spirit may cause hesitation for others, but it intrigued the Sip Advisor. The liquor, which may be known as Aquavit in other parts of the world, is often saved for special events, such as Christmas dinner and weddings, but you can’t tell the Sip Advisor when to consume anything!
#11 IRELAND – Jameson Irish Whiskey
While Ireland is an amazing place all year round, I believe it must be experienced on St. Patrick’s Day to truly get a feel for the country. This is exactly what the Sip Advisor did many moons ago with members of the long distance Sip Alliance. The Emerald Island is full of stuff to do, but I must caution visitors to always be weary of Leprechauns when visiting Ireland. These little nuisances can be dealt with and appeased with copious amounts of Irish Whiskey (as we all can)! Jameson is one of six main Dublin Whiskeys and is currently distilled in Cork.
#12 SLOVAKIA – Tatra Tea Liqueurs
Coming into this project, Slovakia was a bit of a mystery to me, but I’m glad Mrs. Sip found these liqueurs (named after the Tatra Mountains), providing me with the opportunity to explore the country and add a previously unknown spirit to my repertoire. The country houses a countless number of hidden gems, from citizens you never knew called Slovakia home to the most eclectic collection of statues a tourist could dream of.
#13 CHINA – Chiew
While China can seem so closed off from the rest of the world, it is a fascinating country, home of great culture and history. The Great Wall is one of the seven wonders of the world and while not an official wonder, the Chinese zodiac is fascinating in how accurately it can describe a person and even warn them of who they are and aren’t combatable with. Chiew is a wine-based spirit that I had my first experiences with through this project. I look forward to future engagements and will use it to celebrate the site’s first ever visitor from the internet-censored nation.
#14 MEXICO – 1800 Tequila
History buffs will love Mexico for all the different civilizations that founded the country. As a professional wrestling fan, I’ve always had a place in my heart for Mexico and their Lucha Libre style of grappling. Then, there’s tequila. I’ve always marveled at how many people refuse to drink the potent blue agave liquor. I love the stuff and I don’t really care which level of quality it is. Sure, the anejo is the best, but there’s nothing wrong with getting sloppy on the cheap, blanco variety! I used 1800 Anejo for our Mexican siesta, as its smoky aftertaste is quite pleasurable. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor!
#15 SPAIN – Sherry
Just call the Sip Advisor the Spanish Inquisition! Spain is an interesting and diverse country, as seen in their traditional tapas dishes or in the surreal art of Salvador Dali. Sherry is a fortified wine (using white grapes, although it comes out red), which probably pairs quite nicely with many of those previously mentioned tapas. Much like Champagne from France, Sherry is a protected product and must come from the Spanish province of Cádiz to be recognized as such. Other countries do produce similar wines, though, with the U.S. adding which region it’s from (ex. California Sherry) and places like Australia and Canada adopting the term Apera, to distinguish their sherry production.
#16 SWEDEN – Absolut Vodka
A card-carrying member of the Vodka Belt, Sweden is the birthplace of IKEA and the Nobel Prizes, among other things I didn’t have the time or interest to write about! I think I covered off the country’s main industries, though, and even drank one of them. Absolut Vodka comes in a myriad of flavours, literally running the gamut of taste bud options. Of note is the Absolut City Series, which takes some of the most famous places from around world, captures their essence and bottles it for limited release spirits. London, Berlin, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, and even the Sip Advisor’s hometown of Vancouver have made the cut, thus far, and have been immortalized in booze form!
#17 TURKEY – Raki
Travelling through the Grand Bazaar and searching out Turkish Delight are some of the highlights of a trip to Turkey, which while part of Europe, seems like a whole different experience than the rest of the continent can provide. Raki is quite similar to spirits like Sambuca and Ouzo, as they are all anise-based. This national liquor of Turkey is commonly served straight, with water on the side, or mixed with water, which causes the liquid to turn a cloudy white, earning the name ‘Lion’s Milk.’
#18 JAPAN – Sake
Japan is near the top of my list of places I want to travel to. The country is just so unique and has such a fascinating culture. So much, around the world, has been influenced by Japan and many of its exports have been adopted across the globe. Video games, manga comics, ninjas, martial arts movies, origami, sushi, Godzilla, and so much more, just couldn’t be contained by Japan’s borders. While I’ve had straight up Sake before, I’ve never had the opportunity to try some cocktails (although I’m not sure you can call a Sake Bomb a true cocktail!) using the spirit. I’m still not sure which way to serve the booze is more preferable.
#19 BARBADOS – Bear Hug Rum
Barbados is an island of great beauty… and we’re not just talking about pop princess Rihanna! The Caribbean nation is also the birthplace of grapefruit, which completely blew my mind. Mrs. Sip picked up this bottle of Bear Hug Rum at an airport Duty Free shop in the Dominican Republic, of all places. Each of the company’s creations come infused with actual fruit or other substances, whether it be mango (the option we purchased), wild berry, papaya, cranberry, chili pepper, espresso, or chocolate. Bear Hug has paired these ingredients with rum, vodka, or tequila spirits.
#20 BRAZIL – Cachaca
Cachaca is a sugar cane spirit, in a similar vein to rum (which largely uses molasses in production), yet altogether its own liquor. While enjoying Cachaca, we can visit such worldwide phenomena as the Christ the Redeemer Statue and party hard during Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival celebration, taking in the fantastic costumes and beautiful women the celebration is known for. Just stay safe out there, as the country is also sadly known for its violent street crime.
#21 SWITZERLAND – Goldschlager
From Swiss cheese to Swiss chocolate, Switzerland is a culinary dream. Let’s not neglect the Swiss’ work in timepieces, knives, and neutrality. And who doesn’t like drinking a spirit with flakes of gold leaf swirling around a cinnamon schnapps. While that gold have very little actual value, the addition of Goldschlager to various cocktails can add an element of wonder and beauty, like shaking up a snow globe. All of this adds up to make Switzerland a spectacular stop on the Around the World express!
#22 CROATIA – Rakija
Mrs. Sip picked up a couple bottles of Rakija from a farmer’s market type deal, when she visited Croatia a couple years back. The alcohol is basically a fruit-based brandy and man, does it pack a punch. The country is the birthplace for famed, but somewhat forgotten inventor Nikola Tesla (dubbed a ‘mad scientist’), as well as being the homeland of the Dalmatian dog breed. For all the working stiffs out there, you can also blame Croatia for that tie you have to wear to the office each day, as it is a descendant of the cravat neckpiece, first worn there.
#23 POLAND – Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
I had long wanted to try the Bison Grass Vodka and a virtual visit to Poland was the perfect opportunity. The vodka is distilled with an extract of bison grass, given the liquor its yellowish colour and distinct flavour. The Polish have apparently been using this tactic with some vodkas since the 14th century. While traversing the Eastern European nation, we took the time to learn about Pope John Paul II, who is perhaps Poland’s most famous citizen of all-time. Sadly, no visit to the country is complete without a reflective stop at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, where millions of people lost their lives during World War II.
#24 INDIA – Royal Challenge Whiskey
India is a fascinating country that gives me pause. I’m not sure if I ever want to travel there, despite its vibrant culture and stimulating history. Perhaps India is better viewed from afar or taken in via an alcoholic beverage. Royal Challenge Whiskey was apparently popular in India during the 1980’s, before being re-launched under new ownership once the new millennium arrived. The return to prominence included a rebranded look and advertising campaign. Interestingly, Royal Challenge is actually a rum flavoured to be like a scotch whiskey. The owners of the spirit actually fought in court to use the word ‘whiskey,’ but won’t divulge what percentage of the concoction is actually blended scotch whiskey.
#25 JAMAICA – Appleton Rum
Having long been a fan of Appleton Rum, it wasn’t a hard choice to pick my Jamaican alcohol. I actually killed my bottle of Appleton during our brief stop in Jamaica, thus necessitating a future trip to the liquor store (my favourite kind of shopping). Perhaps I was partying too hard to the gnarly grooves of Reggae. Then again, maybe I was trying to drink faster than Usain Bolt can run the 100-meter dash. Either way, this beautifully smooth rum with an more than acceptable price point has worked its way into my heart and is a surefire Sip Advisor Hall of Fame candidate, likely to receive enshrinement sooner than later.
#26 CHILE – Pisco
Pisco is famous in many parts of South America, but no more so than in Chile. I only hope that they provided the miners of the 2009 Copiapó Accident with a couple bottles while they awaited rescue. I also wonder if the liquor has made its way to Easter Island, annexed by Chile in 1888… without booze on the island, I’m not sure you’ll ever see the Sip Advisor grace the region. Pisco is actually a grape brandy, although it reminds me of tequila. Mrs. Sip bought me an awesome bottle of the spirit for Christmas last year, that has the alcohol coming in a Moai statue-themed container. The Pisco Sour is a must-do recipe when you have the potent liquor on hand.
#27 SCOTLAND – Scotch
I love scotch, scotchy scotch scotch, in my belly. No serisouly, I love this stuff. That said, I don’t get the chance to mix it in cocktails too much, preferring it on the rocks, but these were fun drinks to experiment with. Scotland is littered with scotch distilleries, which would be fun to tour while there and something that is on my bucket list. Also while in the Northern U.K., you might find time to hit the links and get in a round of golf or catch yourself a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster or any other fictional Scottish character. I aspire to one day meet Scrooge McDuck and discuss ways to generate my own vault filled with treasures (and also for swimming) or beg him to take me on as an intern!
#28 ITALY – Limoncello
There are so many liquor options from Italy, that it was very hard to narrow my choice down to one selection. I could have gone with anything, including Vermouth, Wine, Grappa, Galliano, Amaretto, Frangelico, Campari, Aperol, etc., but I chose Limoncello because the Italian flag is proudly displayed on the bottle Ma and Pa Sip own and that seemed like a good enough reason to me. Similar to liquor variety, there was an infinite number of options for what to write about for Italy and it doesn’t get more in-your-face than the Cosa Nostra (aka Mafia) and Pizza. Mrs. Sip and I have loved every trip we’ve taken to Italy, which have been highlighted by delicious meals, and thankfully, zero issues with the mob!
#29 FINLAND – Finlandia Vodka
While in Finland, you will definitely work up a sweat, either thrashing around to the country’s most popular heavy metal acts or enjoying some rest and relaxation provided by the Finnish sauna culture. After all that release of moisture, you’ll probably want nothing more than to gulp down some Finlandia Vodka, made with pure glacier water… well, that and six-row barley. Finlandia comes in a wide variety of flavours, including cranberry, lime, mango, red berry (the finest of the berries!), wild berries, grapefruit, tangerine, and blackcurrant. While I’m looking forward to trying each and every of those options, I picked up a bottle of the original Finlandia and was quite impressed by the spirit. Interestingly, the bottle’s design is meant to mimic melting ice.
#30 KOREA – Soju
Korea is a fascinating place, whether you’re researching the cult of personality of North Korea’s dictators, or investigating the many cultural icons of South Korea, including Samsung, Taekwondo, and even Gangnam Style. I’d personally love to spend some time in the country, enjoying their drinking culture, which is centered around Soju, the world’s most sold spirit. Soju was first created in the 13th century, as the Mongols invaded Korea (makes sense… your world is coming down around you, so you might as well be blitzed!). During the rice shortages, the alcohol is distilled using ethanol, which makes a milder spirit.
#31 BERMUDA – Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
I’m sort of anti-Gosling’s Black Seal Rum because of their recipe copyright on the Dark & Stormy cocktail, insisting that the drink can only be made using their brand of rum. That said, it’s a very nice rum, which set up shop in Bermuda in 1824 and still maintains a store on the island. Gosling’s also markets their own Ginger Beer, the second ingredient on the infamous Dark & Stormy, which could lead to trouble in the island paradise. While trying to not get lost in the Bermuda Triangle, we learn that the small island nation has much to offer that is solely associated with the Bermuda name, including shorts, kites, grass, onions, and animals.
#32 ARGENTINA – Malbec Wine
The 1884 Malbec is one of Mrs. Sip and my favourite wines and we have spent a number of lazy Sunday afternoons enjoying bottles of this vino. Argentina is one of the greatest producing wine regions in the world and Malbecs are one of their specialties (along with Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Tempranillo). While the country lost to my Germany at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, they can lay claim to one of the top football stars in the universe, one Lionel Messi, affectionately known as La Pulga (aka The Flea). The country is also the birthplace of the sexy, sultry Tango dance, which the Sip Advisor would surely butcher if he tried, leading to a lifetime of loneliness and misery. Thankfully, mastering the dance is not a requirement up here in Canada!
#33 FRANCE – Cognac
Like Italy, France has numerous options in the liquor market. I chose Cognac as the country’s libation of choice because of the reputation it has as an upper class liqueur, coming from the Cognac region. A variety of brandy, this spirit comes in a number of different grades, including very special, extra old, and beyond age. Some of the top brands producing this often expensive alcohol are Courvoisier, Hennessy, and Rémy Martin. You may want to enjoy Cognac while visiting the Eiffel Tower and you may even choose it over Champagne, which France is known the world over for. Have fun and make sure you ignore any nasty people you meet in Paris. The folks outside the capital are much nicer and the snotty reputation really doesn’t spread across the nation.
#34 GREECE – Ouzo
Home to the Ancient Olympics, which has brought us all a myriad of wonderful sporting memories, Greece has experienced some tough years recently, but the folks are strong and resilient. One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to piss off any of the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology and you have to think this is where the citizens of Greece get some of their strong character. Ouzo, the national liqueur probably helps, too. I’ve always loved Ouzo, dating back to the days that Mrs. Sip and I travelled to Athens and the island of Santorini and enjoyed the elixir following every meal. I wonder if anyone has ever experimented with different flavours of Ouzo, although I’m not sure what would jive with the licorice taste. It may not be a favourite of everyone, but Ouzo will always warm my heart… literally!
#35 RUSSIA – Beluga Noble Russian Vodka
As the Sip Advisor likes to call it, Russia is the all-important belt buckle of the European Vodka Belt. Russian’s love their vodka and drink it before, during, and after all meals… translation: all the freakin’ time! Beluga Noble Russian Vodka is one of the country’s most popular offerings and one that the Russian tour guide for Mrs. Sip and myself suggested we pick up. The vodka is incredibly smooth and is made at the Mariinsky Distillery, which was established all the way back in 1900. I wouldn’t want to mess with a Russian over his vodka and I certainly wouldn’t want to cause any issues with the KGB, Russia’s famous intelligence and espionage service. On the lighter side of the ledger, Russia is also home to the Fabergé Egg empire, if you’re looking for a great Easter gift for loved ones!
#36 MOROCCO – Mahia
The Sip Syndicate finally tracked down this Moroccan spirit (not easy to do in a Muslim, anti-alcohol culture) when visiting the “new city” of Marrakesh. People living in the country for decades even said we wouldn’t find it, but we proved them wrong! Most interesting about the booze is that it’s fig-based, providing for a totally original experience. While we visited Morocco, we learned of the many movies and TV shows filmed in the country. More than used simply for shots of the desert, some of the most famous scenes of all-time occurred throughout Morocco. We were also treated to seeing the male staff of hotels, restaurants, and bars wearing fez hats, which although largely associated with today’s Shriners, were born and bred in Morocco. Definitely a country I’ll never forget.
#37 NEW ZEALAND – Sauvignon Blanc Wine
I absolutely love New Zealand. I’ve listed it as one of the top spots I would choose to live if I left home. While the Maori are some of the sweetest people you’d ever meet, when the All Blacks take the field for national rugby test matches, it’s a completely different story. Their haka war dance, performed before the start of each contest, would be enough to have me running off the fields for an early shower. New Zealand is also home to some very famous inhabitants, such as the flightless Kiwi Bird, film director Peter Jackson and all his hobbit friends, and the loveable Bushwackers wrestling tag team. Add to that list a few of the world’s most delicious Sauvignon Blanc wines and you could quickly see yourself thriving in this island paradise.
#38 GUYANA – Lemon Hart Rum
Always a rum fan, it didn’t take much arm twisting to divert our little Around the World tour through Guyana to sample some Lemon Hart Rum. Lemon Hart has been distilled for over 200 years and blends some of the Caribbean’s best rums. While rum is plentiful, countless explorers have search fruitlessly for the mythical Lost City of Gold, otherwise known as El Dorado, which Guyana is said to hide. The adventure of searching for this land of riches is enough to make any man salivate and dream of discovering the massive haul. Sadly, Guyana was also the site of the Jonestown Massacre, the largest loss of American civilian life prior to September 11, 2001. This event brought more coverage to the island nation than it probably ever wanted.
#39 PORTUGAL – Port
While rum is best associated with pirates, the Pirate Code was first constructed by Portuguese buccaneer Bartolomeu Português and one can only imagine it was documented over a bottle of port, the country’s famed fortified wine. Perhaps the booze played a role in the concept of fatalism, or at least the Portuguese steadfast belief in the notion, which has produced the country’s national music, known as Fado. Port is similar to products like Champagne and Cognac, in that it is associated with a specific region. In this case, that being the Douro region of northern Portugal. The wine is usually richer, sweeter, and heavier than your typical vino and can come in ruby, white, tawny, and even crusted (unfiltered) varieties. It is similar to dessert wines, which you may find around the world.
#40 NORWAY – Cloudberry Liqueur
Cloudberry Liqueur is made from, you guessed it, cloudberries. These fruit clusters are mainly located in northern mountainous ranges (particularly Norway), where the berry can survive cold temperatures. Mrs. Sip and I tracked down a bottle while on our Baltic cruise and it was like discovering the holy grail! One of Norway’s most famous contributions to the world comes in the form of artist Edvard Munch’s work, The Scream. This haunting image even inspired the Ghostface mask used in the Scream horror movie franchise. Norway also plays a large role in many Viking legends and a number of these infamous warriors laid claim to the Norwegian throne at one time or another or passed through the country, raiding and pillaging, as all the best Vikings were known to do.
#41 GERMANY – Jagermeister
One must visit Germany during Oktoberfest at some point in their life and join hundreds of thousands of locals and travelers for a couple weeks of getting smashed with fun-loving folks. While beer is the focus of Oktoberfest – and Germany does produce some of the finest brews – Jagermeister is also a fabled spirit, hailing from the land of chocolate (at least according to The Simpsons). Speaking of “land of chocolate,” Germany is home to some of the finest candy companies from Ritter Sport to Haribo. Back to Jagermeister, the spirit has a cult following thanks to its heavy administration during college parties and many students, the Sip Advisor included, have grown up on the herbal liquor. Translated, Jagermeister means “master of hunters,” and urban legends stated that the spirit contained deer or elk blood.
#42 UKRAINE – Khortytsa Vodka
My first introduction to the Ukraine was definitely Ma Sip’s celebrating Ukrainian Christmas. None of us come from that heritage, but it provided as good an excuse as any to indulge on pierogies, cabbage rolls, and other cuisine specialties from the country. Another of those cultural features is vodka, which is enjoyed across the nation, a card carrying member of the Vodka Belt. I grabbed the Khortytsa Honey Hot Pepper variety for this project and it certainly didn’t disappoint with a unique blend of soothing honey and fiery heat. Sounds similar to boxing’s Klitschko Brothers, who combine pugilistic behaviour in the ring with doctorate degrees outside, thus joining the Dos Equis guy as some of the most interesting people in the world!
#43 BOLIVIA – Agwa
Agwa is fermented using coca leafs (yes, the same leafs that produce cocaine), and follows a long line of coca leaf liqueurs from Bolivia, dating back to the early 1800’s. Author Rudyard Kipling described coca leaf liqueur drinks as being made “from the clippings and shavings of angels’ wings.” Speaking of the coca leaf, it’s a pretty big deal in Bolivia and a few other South American countries. It has even factored into their democracy, with the rise of the Cocalero Movement. Bolivia also holds the dubious title of ‘World’s Most Dangerous Road’ thanks to the treacherous route between its capital city of La Paz and the Amazon Rainforest, along the North Yungas Road. All these hazards and we haven’t even got to the region’s poisonous snakes!
#44 ICELAND – Brennivin
Iceland was once home to Vikings and therefore, it’s no surprise that two of the most celebrated strongmen hail from the country. Jón Páll Sigmarsson and Magnús Ver Magnússon won a combined eight World’s Strongest Man competitions, putting Iceland on the map as a breeding ground for power lifters. If visiting Iceland, the best way to get around the country is the Ring Road, which circles the entire nation. On this route, you can see all the majesty Iceland has to offer, from the Northern Lights above to the volcanic and thermal activity taking place below your feet. Affectionately known as ‘Black Death’ (despite its clear hue and decent taste), Brennivin is Iceland’s national spirit and one which Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed with our Icelandic cultural feast, despite warnings from our server as to its potency and taste.
#45 BELGIUM – Stella Artois Beer
Belgium is home to so many beers that sitting down at any tavern in the country will leave you flummoxed as you peruse the massive menu of brews. Stella Artois is one of the country’s most recognized brands around the world, having existed since 1926. Stella Artois is perhaps most famous for its serving ritual, which has been featured in numerous commercials. While enjoying your brew, you may want to take in the many other food and drink items Belgium is famous for, including fries, waffles, and chocolate. You could also kill time by flipping through one of Belgium’s famous comics. Two of which, The Adventures of Tintin and The Smurfs, have become hot properties in recent years, thanks to feature films based on the franchises.
#46 HUNGARY – Palinka
Hungary? No thanks, I just ate! That lame joke (or something similar) is how many of us first learned of the country that once shared an empire with Austria. What you might not know, however, is that Hungary is the birthplace of the puzzling Rubik’s Cube, which has grown to become the best-selling toy of all-time. Also, despite his status as a bloodthirsty brute, the Royal Court of Hungary laid claim to Attila the Hun, as an ancestor. Does this make their entire population psychopathic bullies? Perhaps after consuming copious amounts of Palinka! Mrs. Sip picked up a few little bottles of Palinka for me, while she travelled central Europe. I was happy to learn that she grabbed three different flavours, including apricot, cherry, and plum. This made for some fun cocktails, using the brandy.
#47 ISRAEL – Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
Israel is a budding wine region and one of the country’s most popular grape varieties is Cabernet Sauvignon… or as the yuppies like to call it: Cab Sauv. The really interesting part of Israeli wine, is that most of it is kosher, meaning it is only handled by observant Jews throughout its harvesting process and can’t contain non-kosher ingredients. While visiting Israel, it would be extremely difficult not to come across at least one religious tourist attraction. From the West Wall and Dome of the Rock, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, there are so many sites that have religious meaning attached. You don’t even need to go to Israel to be surrounded by people and products hailing from the Holy Land. Some of the things that come from Israel may blow your mind!
#48 TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – Kraken Black Spice Rum
Calypso music was born and bred on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago before it became popular around the world in 1956, thanks to Harry Belafonte’s Day-O (aka the Banana Boat Song). This music could be used while performing the limbo, often thought of as Trinidad and Tobago’s national dance. Dancers native to the islands have even been known to compete with the bar lit on fire, as well as performing other stunts. When not risking their lives for a dance, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago may be found drinking rum. One such product, Kraken Black Spice Rum gets its molasses (rum content) from Trinidad & Tobago, before it’s manufactured in other parts of the world. This rum has grown on the Sip Advisor to become one of his favourites. Much thanks to the nation of TnT!
#49 NETHERLANDS – Bols Jenever
You just can’t visit the Netherlands without at least a brief stop in Amsterdam, where you can get as crazy as you choose to be. With sex shows, theatres, museums, and shops being joined by the women (and men) of the Red Light District windows and the coffee shops serving illicit drugs, you can certainly pick your poison. Amid the insanity of the Dutch capital is the headquarters of the Philips electronics company, which introduced to the world the audio cassette, video tape, compact disc, and CD-ROM, providing folks with countless hours of entertainment. The Jenever I used was a gift from members of the Sip Syndicate, who visited the House of Bols, while vacationing in the Netherlands. It certainly pays to have thoughtful friends who know exactly what to get a wise ol’ Sip Advisor!
#50 CZECH REPUBLIC – Absinthe/Beer
While I had originally intended to use Absinthe for our stop in the Czech Republic, the country’s long history of brewing changed my mind. Budweiser Budvar (or Czechvar Beer, as it is known in North America) has existed since 1895 and exports to 60-plus countries around the world. Heck, Czechvar is one of the two beers (joined by Budweiser Bürgerbräu that have made life difficult for Anheuser Busch’s Budweiser, the ‘King of Beers,’ particularly in Europe. The Czech Republic is also home to the most castles per capita in the world. Can you imagine, sitting on a luxurious throne and admiring your crown jewels (not the dirty ones!) while sipping on Czech brews!? I know I can!
#51 LATVIA – Stolichnaya Vodka
Coordination is one of the Sip Advisor’s greatest assets. That said, I pale in comparison to dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshniko, fondly known as Misha by family, friends, and fans alike. Latvia, in fact, is full of many other interesting facts, including inspiring the character of Crocodile Dundee and creating denim jeans. The country is also home to the plant that produces and bottles Stolichnaya Vodka for international distribution, mixing Latvian water with Russian vodka. Affectionately known around the world as simply Stoli, Mrs. Sip and I have become big fans of the distiller’s Salted Karamel variety, which we recently tried at a wedding reception. Served straight on ice, it blew both our minds and I can only imagine its cocktail potential!
#52 INDONESIA – Pisang Ambon
Mrs. Sip and I travelled to Indonesia a number of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. We did not get to visit any of the islands (there are 18,000 of them that make up the country!) which are inhabited by Komodo Dragons, Indonesia’s national animal, nor did we run into any of the native tribes that live unique lives across the nation. That might be a good thing, given the viciousness of the Komodo Dragons and the fact that some of the most notable Indonesian clans, at one time, practiced headhunting and cannibalism. Despite its green hue, Pisang Ambon is a banana-flavoured liqueur that is based on an old Indonesian recipe for a similar spirit. Pisang, in fact, means “banana” in Malay/Indonesian, while Ambon is the name of an island in Indonesia.