This week the winner of Nicaragua‘s National Drink Contest will be announced at a gala reception at Managua’s Hotel Real InterContinental.
The contest invited all Nicaraguan residents, from professional bartenders to amateur barflies, to submit recipes for cocktails involving rum (competition-sponsor Flor de Caña-brand only) that could act as the country’s alcoholic ambassador, along the lines of Cuban mojitos and Mexican margaritas.
In the spirit of the contest, as well as our globe-hopping chocolate post a couple of weeks ago, IT did a little research into other "national drinks." Some were familiar—Irish stout (Guinness), Greek ouzo, Scottish whisky, the Brazilian caipirinha, Japanese sake, Russian vodka—others less so. Who knew pastis was the Frenchman‘s tipple of choice, or brandy the Peruvian patriot’s? We’d never even heard of baijiu, China‘s national spirit. We knew that yerba mate was Argentina‘s national drink, but not that it held that title in Paraguay and Uruguay as well. It’s also one of the few nonalcoholic national beverages. Tibetan salted butter tea is another. If 28 determined Filipinos get their way, buko juice (coconut water) will join those ranks as their country’s official drink. Somewhere between alcoholic and non- is airag, Mongolia‘s fermented mare’s milk.
Enthused as we are about travel-by-taste, IT was a little skeptical of endeavors to dictate national culture through a contest. That is, until we did our homework. We found that a number of important national emblems have been chosen by contest, including the anthems of Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia. Skepticism duly retired.
- Nat Geo Expeditions