Need a drink after a long day’s sight-seeing? Head to the pub, and grab a cold one. But you don’t want to drink the same old stuff you have back home. How do you know what to get? Not to fret, I have done my research on every traveller’s behalf, and have made a small compilation of what to order at various drinking holes in Europe. Shout out like a local, and impress people with your expertise. Here are my top five European countries to drink:

Belgium
After flights to Brussels, you order beer of course! The top Belgium beers are Duvel and Chimay, but watch out, these beers are quite strong, with a high alcohol content compared to other beers. Should you be in the mood for something a little bit lighter, go for Kriek, which is a sweet-tasting beer due to it being fermented with cherries. I have been told only girls drink this, but surely the blokes shouldn’t be embarrassed to try it. For a white beer, try Hoegaarden.

France
As one of the largest producers in the world, surely wine rules in France. There’s so much choice – merlot, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, chardonnay. All of them are slightly different depending on which region they’re from. Wines from the Graves and Gaillac regions are some of the best. For something a bit unusual, there is also a peculiar anise-flavoured drink called pastis, typically associated with the south of France. Be warned though, it’s an acquired taste. If you are curious enough to try it, go for Ricard or Pastis 51.

Spain
The best thing about ordering a drink from Spanish taverns is that they almost always come with a free plate of delicious tapas. Don’t get boring old sangria. Instead, a great drink to order is Rebujito , a traditional wine and soda cocktail found traditionally in Seville. Another excellent wine-based drink is Tinto de Verano, made with red wine and soda. The Spanish tequila is also pretty good, as I found out the hard way.

Portugal
Super Bock is one of the best lagers in Portugal. You can also order it mixed with lemonade, which makes a refreshing alternative. For port wine (or Vinho do Porto), pay lovely Porto a visit, the home of many grand port wine houses scattered near and around the Douro river. These port wine houses are really worth visiting, as they not only offer free tours but also free sampling of ruby, tawny, and white port. Some popular ones include Sandeman and Grahams, where they also sell vintage port. I was lucky enough to be given a tasting from a €180 vintage bottle!

Drink-lovers will love this country because alcohol is extremely cheap.

Czech Republic
Drink-lovers will love this country because alcohol is extremely cheap. After partying with some locals, I developed a taste for Fernet Citrus, which is a bitter liquor with a lemon twist. If you prefer a sweeter drink, go for Maby Slivovice, a tasty fruit-based brandy. Do keep an eye on those shots though! For a typical beer, what else but Pilsner Urquell?

To traveling
I fondly recall having a really good time in every one of these places. I hope this guide has been useful, and most importantly, remember to be safe, know your limits, and happy bar-hopping! So, cheers, sante, na zdraví, prost, wherever you are!

Your thoughts on "A drink-lover’s guide to Europe"

  • Belgium - I don't know I'd call those two THE top, but they are certainly right up there. Leffe is very nice, as is Kwak (best beer glass, period), Delirium Tremens (be careful, the name tells you all you need to know) and my personal favorite, Orval. Then again, we sampled something like 25 different beers in like 7 or 8 days in Belgium, and I can't recall any I would not recommend, so just give them a try!

    on May 27, 2009 at 1:55 pm Reply
  • In France - not all regions are famous for their wines. The north (around Lille) and to some extend the east are definitely beer regions - the proximity with Belgium and Germany helps, but they also have a great variety of excellent local beers. And, yes, the stuff is quite potent!

    on May 27, 2009 at 5:44 pm Reply
  • In Poland, you have to try a vodka called Zbrowka (apologies for spelling). You mix it with apple juice (it's the only vodka you can mix without getting shot) and it tastes dangerously like pop. The name translates roughly as little bison, and every bottle of Zbrowka has a blade of grass in it from the Eastern steppes of Poland. The story is that the European Bison wee on the grass, which gets added to the vodka. That accounts for the slightly off colour and the tang in the taste! Not sure about the hangover the day after ....

    on May 27, 2009 at 11:08 pm Reply
  • I hope you didn't steal this idea from my latest blog post. :-) If in Czech Republic, I must prefer Gambrinus which is available almost everywhere. Staropramen is a good choice as well, although quite potent. I'm not a fan of Duvel (we call it Devil) nor Chimay. Instead I always opt for Leffe or Karmeliet. But I never turn down a Belgian brew, regardless. Cheers!

    on May 28, 2009 at 3:25 am Reply
  • This is such a great roundup- the Rebujito in Spain seems delicious!

    on May 28, 2009 at 9:27 am Reply
  • Yes, needless to say Pilsner Urquel is the most famous Czech brew worldwide but there are many breweries there, most in business for well over hundred years and of no lesser quality. In fact some would argue that Budvar (the original Budwiser) as well as may be the Velkopopovicky Kozel and dozen other brands may be superior to Pilsner. Let's face it, beer drinking is Czech national pastime, and statistically they lead ahead of the Belgians and the Germans in consumption per capita, young and old, women, even infants included...

    on May 28, 2009 at 11:48 am Reply
  • I'd have to say that I am a fan of Chimay -- especially Chimay blue (sorry, Andy!). And Budvar ... tastes like a very good beer unlike some budweisers we could mention. I'm with you, Travel Inspirations, go the Budvar.

    on May 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm Reply
  • There's so much more drinking to be done out here in Spain other than the typical Sangrias and Riojas. From the lowly Calimocho (Coke and cheap wine) to the Aguardientes of Galicia and the Licor de Hierbas after meals, to the strong Pitarra wine out here in Extremadura. Spain is definitely a country where you can 'drink locally' and never get bored.

    on May 30, 2009 at 4:25 pm Reply
  • At least we agree on one thing - Budvar = GOOD. :)

    on May 31, 2009 at 2:22 am Reply
  • What about Sherry from Jerez in Spain; and surely you can't not have Guiness from Ireland in your top 5 - it does not taste that good anywhere else in the world. I love Pastis and Port - and try the white Port chilled before dinner, and also a variant called Lagrima.

    on May 31, 2009 at 10:34 am Reply

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