The idea for this article came to me while drinking Canada’s greatest cocktail, the Caesar. If any of you just said “whoa now, Chris, that’s a Bloody Mary isn’t it?!” No it’s not, and don’t make that mistake again. The Caesar is a magical concoction that originated in Calgary, Alberta, Canada back in the late 1960s. While the Bloody Mary is generally a cocktail made with tomato juice, vodka, spices, hot sauce and similar ingredients, the Caesar is a similar, but significantly different beast. Clamato is the main mix. This is of course, tomato juice mixed with clam juice. Vodka is step two, followed by about four dashes of Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, pepper, sometimes horseradish, a lime wedge, a stalk of celery and a glass that has been rimmed with celery salt.
The Caesar is found virtually everywhere in Canada, but much like our national dish, poutine, ask for it elsewhere and the bartender or server might just laugh. But as I was in the midst of one of these fine drinks, it hit me, there have got to be some wacky mixes that people drink around the world. There is no way that the Caesar is as interesting as the world of booze gets.
So with that in mind, here is our list of crazy, interesting, weird and delicious cocktails from around the world. These will vary between the most popular in a city or country, to awesome, rare drinks that can only be found in a single bar.
10. Chapman – Enugu, Nigeria
Didn’t expect to see a Nigerian coal mining city, Enugu on here did you? Well, we decided to start off with this one for that exact reason; who thinks of a place like this when they think of interesting, delicious drinks that pack a punch?
The Chapman starts out with a shot of aromatic bitters. One can use one’s favorite brand but Angostura is always a good bet and is generally the choice of bartenders in Enugu. After that, add Sprite, Fanta, and a dash of orange juice, followed by garnishing with a lemon slice and a cucumber slice. The booze content depends on your own preference, and if needed, the bitters can be omitted altogether for designated drivers or kids. This drink is best enjoyed on a hot afternoon.
9. Krambambula – Belarus (Eastern Europe in General)
Earlier this year a bar in Belarus decided to name a drink “the Holocaust”. People protested as applying that name to anything other than the Holocaust is in poor taste and ignorant. Krambambula is a regional drink that is widely consumed in Belarus but also in other countries in that region. This is what you drink if your spouse leaves you, you lose your job and your dog dies in the same afternoon. Krambambula has many different exact recipes but they all involve red wine being mixed with some kind of stronger liquor. It may not taste the best but if you need to get lit up like a Christmas tree, the Belarusians know what they are doing.
8. Fiery Empress – Singapore
One cannot and should not try to make a list about interesting drinks and leave Singapore off of it. If you’re the kind of person who is not aroused and excited by a bit of heat, this drink may not be your friend (“fiery” is in the name for a reason. At LE Restaurant and Asian Tapas Bar this gem was concocted a couple of years ago, but it can be created just about anywhere. Curry leaves, red Thai chili peppers and Patron Silver are the key ingredients. This drink will wake you up, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.
7. Dawa – Kenya
Dawa is one of the most popular drinks in Kenya because it is not only refreshing but is also considered to be medicinal. It’s one of those cocktails that may be accompanied by a friend saying the Kenyan colloquial equivalent to “here man, this’ll cure what ails ya”. It’s a simple drink and involves a generous helping of vodka, a tablespoon of honey and a lime. The lime and honey are added first and lightly crushed along with some brown sugar. Then it’s time for the ice and vodka and you’re all set.
6. Kachumber Cooler – India
As the name implies, this is a tasty treat on a warm day, fitting well with the prevailing Indian climate. It combines the flavor of cucumber with cilantro, lime and some spice. To make this delight, muddle about two inches of cucumber, along with cilantro and about two inches of a green finger chili. After this, add about half an ounce of lime juice, about the same amount of simple syrup or raw sugar, and a shot and a half of gin. The last step is to strain this concoction into a glass with some ice and garnish with a slice of cucumber.
5. Stir-Fried – Siem Reap, Cambodia
This drink was first created at the Park Hyatt hotel in Siem Reap, and has become popular in the area. So after the awe-inspiring experience of Angkor Watt, the ancient city in Siem Reap, this may just be the best drink that can top off an amazing day. Some of the ingredients are hard to come by but this cocktail is worth it.
The “stir fried” is a drink that combines a hefty shot of vodka with apple juice, lime juice, holy basil (hot basil), ginger and galangal. Galangal and ginger produce similar flavors, but both bring a different type of tang to this delicious cocktail.
4. Tej/Tej Cocktail – Ethiopia/Toronto, Canada
Ages ago, someone asked me the question, “have you ever tried Ethiopian food?” My answer was “no” and his joke ended “neither have they”. It was a childish joke mocking poverty and malnutrition in Africa, but I’ll admit, I chuckled. Later on, someone asked me the same question, and when I said no, they said that simplified dinner plans. Ethiopian food is delicious, and combines simmered, marinated meats with pancake-like bread called “injera”, which is used to pick up the food and eat.
Tej is halfway between a cocktail and a fermented liquor in its own rite, and goes great with food or just to attain a buzz. It’s essentially mead (honey wine) with some gesho leaves which act like hops to offer extra flavor and some preservative properties.
To make the tej cocktail, one mixes spiced rum and lemon or lime juice with tej. This drink is popular at some Ethiopian restaurants in Toronto. Whether they bother to add the rum in Ethiopia is unlikely. This is a two-in-one entry because both of these drinks deserve some attention.
3. Fjellbekk – Norway
Literally translated, Fjellbekk means “mountain stream” but for our purposes it is a strong and flavorful cocktail. The alcohol portion comes from a shot of vodka, a shot of Aquavit, which is essentially a spiced, aromatic liqueur, and half a shot of Picon liqueur. There are some differing recipes on how to finish the drink, some which say lemonade, others that say Sprite or 7-Up and lime juice. All agree however, that it should be poured into a highball glass, with some ice and enjoyed with a gorgeous Scandinavian woman on your arm.
2. More Tea, Vicar? – Cape Town, South Africa
The name of this drink is a phrase used by some (rarely) in Britain to cover up flatulence, but the drink itself is popular in cocktail bars in Cape Town. It is believed to have been first made at the Orphanage Cocktail Bar, and contains a shot and a half of vanilla flavored vodka, three quarters of an ounce of rooibos syrup, lemon juice and cranberry juice, along with just a dash of egg white. As the name suggests, it is also served in a tea cup on a saucer.
1. Mama Juana – Dominican Republic
It’s hard to say whether one can classify a Mama Juana as a true cocktail, but for our purposes, it sure is. When you let dark rum, red wine, honey, to soak tree bark and around ten herbs (there are different recipes) in a bottle, you get Mama Juana. This Dominican drink is considered to not just pack a buzz, but also help with overall health (provided you don’t drink three bottles per day). It has been said that this stuff tastes like sweet port wine with distinct flavors depending on what herbs and tree bark are in the mix. It is sold pre-mixed in shops and can also be concocted in one’s home.