It's impossible to visit Thailand and not list the food as one of the highlights, or India and not have a story to tell, good or bad. However, an end of day beer in a roadside restaurant of an old colonial city, or a sunset cocktail at a beachside tiki bar is as perfect as it gets for me.
I have a fascination with the world's alcohol. I believe that what and how a country drinks can tell you as much about it as a scan through a local paper. It can help you get amongst the people, help you understand them better, take stock of the wonder and make a long day bleed away to nothing. I like to think of it as Rum tourism, though it has led to some rather shocking experiences with fermented Yaks milk and Chinese Baijiu, a spirit which tastes like burnt plastic only not as alluring.
Alcohol is a universal language. Travel long enough and you will find that there is nothing a human being won't make booze out of and discovering them can be one of the most entertaining, memorable and eyebrow raising parts of your trip if you're just brave enough to raise the glass. These could be domestic beers with fantastic labels, to signature national cocktails, to obscure spirits with what may or may not be an animal fetus floating in the bottle.
Even what you can find at home is changed forever by the experience of drinking it at source. You will never look at vodka the same when you've drank it with Russians. To be fair, you may never drink vodka again after drinking it with Russians. A glass of Malbec is altered irrevocably by sipping it in Buenos Aires or a Mojito after you've tasted it in Cuba. Every time you drink it thereafter you'll be transported back to that moment like a liquid time machine.
Over the next weeks I'm going to be looking at some of the worlds greatest, weirdest and most bizarre places, drinks and drinking cultures. I hope you'll join me.
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