I’ll Drink to That! The 15 Most Popular Liquors from Around the World

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Whether they are admiring a glowing sunset in Africa or sipping on a nightcap in Hyde Park, London, people around the world love to end the day with a little bit of what they fancy. This article takes you on a tantalizing journey across continents, exploring the rich histories, unique flavors, and cultural significance of the world’s most beloved liquors. 

It is no surprise to find out that the liquor industry is doing a roaring trade at the rate of more than 1,400 billion dollars every year. There is more to the liquor industry than whiskey and vodka though.

These are the most popular liquors around the world, in no particular order.

Bartender gives a cocktail to a woman who talks on the phone at the bar

Ouzo

In the sun-drenched lands of Greece, the anise-flavored Ouzo reigns supreme. This licorice-tasting liqueur, crafted from grape must and a bouquet of herbs, is more than just a drink; it is a symbol of Greek conviviality. Distilled in traditional copper stills and often aged to perfection, Ouzo is best experienced through brands like Plomari and Ouzo 12, which echo the essence of Greek hospitality.

Vodka

Vodka, a spirit distilled from the simple potato, stands as a proud emblem of Russia, its national drink. This unassuming tuber, often found in everyday meals, is transformed through distillation into a potent and fiery beverage. In Russia, where vodka is immensely popular, it serves as more than just a drink; it is a cultural icon and a warming ally against the harsh, icy winters of places like Siberia. Not only does it offer warmth and comfort in cold climates, but vodka also stars as the key ingredient in the famous Moscow Mule cocktail, showcasing its versatility and appeal in the world of mixology. Simple yet sophisticated, vodka’s journey from a humble potato to a celebrated drink is a testament to its enduring appeal and significance in Russian culture.

Port Wine

Portugal’s contribution, Port Wine, is a dance of sweetness and strength. This fortified wine, enriched by the addition of grape spirit, ages gracefully in barrels, developing a complexity that makes it a cherished dessert wine. Brands like Taylor’s and Fonseca capture the essence of Portuguese tradition in each bottle.

The result is a fortified dessert wine that is great as a nightcap or served with cheese after the main meal. Another world-class wine that you must try is tekirdag raki, and you can easily buy premium tekirdag raki from a trusted source online.

Kyiv, Ukraine - June 06, 2021: Maotai or Moutai hard drink booth at Food and Wine Fest. It is a brand of baijiu, a distilled Chinese liquor made in the town of Maotai in Guizhou.

Baijiu

Baijiu is a famous alcoholic drink from China, known for its strong taste and special flavor. It’s made using old methods where grains like sorghum are fermented and distilled. This process gives Baijiu its unique taste, different from other types of alcohol. People in China have been making and drinking Baijiu for a very long time, and it’s a big part of their history and culture.

In China, Baijiu is more than just a drink; it’s a symbol of tradition and purity. It’s often drunk during important events and celebrations, showing its importance in Chinese society. There are many kinds of Baijiu, but one of the most famous brands is Moutai. This brand is well-known for its quality and is often used on special occasions. Baijiu, with its strong flavor and cultural significance, holds a special place in the hearts of many people in China.

Cachaça

Cachaça is a popular Brazilian alcoholic drink made from sugarcane juice. It is most famous for being the main ingredient in the Caipirinha cocktail, which is a well-known drink from Brazil. Cachaça is made by fermenting sugarcane juice and then distilling it. This process creates a strong and distinct flavor that makes Cachaça unique compared to other spirits.

There are different types of Cachaça. Some are unaged, which means they are bottled and sold right after being made. These types usually have a stronger, more robust taste. Others are aged, spending time in barrels before they are sold. Aging makes the Cachaça smoother and gives it more subtle flavors. Some well-known brands of Cachaça are Leblon and Sagatiba. These brands are known around the world and represent the lively and colorful spirit of Brazil.

Becherovka

In the Czech Republic, Becherovka, an herbal bitter, is a testament to the country’s rich history of herbal remedies. This secret blend of herbs and spices is not just a drink, but a traditional digestive aid, with Becherovka Original being the quintessential choice.

Sake

Sake is a traditional Japanese drink, often called rice wine, made by fermenting rice. It’s known for its gentle yet complex taste. Sake isn’t just one flavor – it has a variety of subtle tastes and aromas that can change based on how it’s made. This makes it a special kind of drink, showing the careful craft and history of Japanese brewing.

One of the great things about Sake is how well it goes with different types of food. It can be enjoyed with light foods like sushi and sashimi, but it also pairs nicely with heavier dishes like grilled meats. This versatility shows how Sake is deeply connected to Japanese food culture. It’s not just a drink, but a part of the wide and diverse world of Japanese cuisine, known for its attention to flavor and detail.

lass of golden rum, with a bottle. Bottle pouring alcohol into a small glass. Brazilian export-type drink. Brazilian product for export, distilled drink known as brandy or pinga. Day of cachaça.

Aguardiente

Aguardiente is a strong alcoholic drink from Latin America, often called “fiery water” because of its high alcohol content and intense flavor. It’s made from sugarcane, and it often has anise added to it, which gives it a unique licorice-like taste. This drink is quite popular in many Latin American countries and is a part of their cultural traditions.

In places like Colombia, Aguardiente is more than just a drink; it’s a symbol of celebration and joy. It’s often enjoyed during parties and special events, reflecting the lively and passionate spirit of the people. Some famous Colombian brands of Aguardiente are Cristal and Antioqueño. These brands are well-known for capturing the true essence of Aguardiente, with its strong flavor and cultural significance.

Scotch Whisky

Scotch Whisky, a symbol of Scottish heritage, is an art form in itself. Aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years, it acquires a complexity and flavor that is revered worldwide. Distilleries like Glenfiddich and Macallan are custodians of this proud tradition.

Tequila 

Mexico’s Tequila, distilled from the blue agave plant, is a story of the land and its people. Brands like Patrón and Don Julio encapsulate the spirit of festivity and resilience that Tequila represents in Mexican culture.

True tequila must contain 51% blue agave juice to meet Mexican standards, so don’t settle for cheap imitations if you want the full tequila experience, best enjoyed with salt and a slice of lemon.

Nowadays tequila is, you get blue tequila and tequila with flecks of gold. While this doesn’t affect its quality or purity, many enthusiasts still prefer to stick to what they know.

Traditional tequila, like the Patron, Jose Cuervo, and Herradura brands, are still clear favorites amongst traditional enthusiasts of this party starter.

A glass of brandy or whiskey on a background of gray stone with truffles.

Brandy

Brandy is a type of alcohol that is enjoyed all around the world. It is made by distilling wine, which means heating the wine and then cooling the vapor to create a stronger drink. Brandy can taste different depending on where it’s from because each place makes it in its way. But no matter where it’s from, brandy is often seen as a fancy or sophisticated drink.

Different brands of brandy can have different flavors. For example, Martell brandy is known for being very smooth. On the other hand, brands like St-Rémy and Torres offer brandies that have rich and complex flavors. This variety shows how making brandy is like an art – the way it’s distilled and then aged (stored over time) can change how it tastes.

Drinking brandy can be like going on a journey to explore different tastes and traditions. Each type of brandy tells a story about where it comes from and how it was made. Whether it’s enjoyed on its own or in a cocktail, brandy offers a special experience that reflects a long history of distillation and aging techniques.

Witblits

Witblits is a traditional South African drink, often known as “white lightning” because of its very high alcohol content. It’s a type of moonshine, which means it’s made by people using their methods, usually at home or in small local distilleries. Witblits is made from grapes, and the way it’s produced can vary from place to place. This results in a drink that’s quite strong and has a rustic, homemade quality.

This drink is a big part of South African culture, especially in rural areas. It represents the creativity and skill of the local people who make it. Usually, it’s made in small batches, which means it’s produced in limited quantities by individual producers or small businesses. This small-scale production makes each batch of Witblits unique. Drinking Witblits is not just about enjoying a strong spirit; it’s also about experiencing a piece of South African heritage and the ingenuity of the people who make it.

Cognac

Cognac is often seen as a symbol of elegance and sophistication. It is not just any drink; it’s something that’s enjoyed on special occasions or as a treat. Some of the most famous brands of Cognac are Hennessy and Rémy Martin. These names are well-known around the world and represent the rich history and prestige of Cognac. Drinking Cognac is about more than just taste; it is about experiencing a part of French culture and tradition that has been cherished for centuries.

Gin

Gin, once a medicinal tonic, has evolved into a staple of the craft cocktail scene. With its juniper berry heart and botanical complexity, brands like Bombay Sapphire and Hendrick’s are at the forefront of Gin’s modern renaissance.

Akevitt

Akevitt, a traditional spirit from Scandinavia, is notable for its distinctive flavor enriched with caraway and various herbs. It holds a special place in Scandinavian festive customs, particularly around the Christmas season. Renowned brands like Linie and O.P. Anderson are recognized as key representatives of this celebratory beverage, embodying the spirit of Scandinavian festivities. This drink, with its unique taste, is often a central part of holiday gatherings, where it’s served alongside traditional dishes, symbolizing merriment and good health.

Tasty alcoholic beverages to drink during dinner at a hot spring inn

Tips on choosing your favorite liquor

  1. Educate Yourself About Different Types of Liquors: Start by learning about the various types of liquors available globally. This includes understanding the basics of spirits like whiskey, vodka, rum, gin, tequila, brandy, and others. Each has its distinct characteristics, production methods, and flavor profiles.
  2. Taste Testing: The best way to find out what you like is by tasting. You can do this by visiting bars that offer a wide selection of spirits, attending liquor-tasting events, or buying miniatures to try at home. Pay attention to the flavors, aromas, and how they feel on your palate.
  3. Explore Different Regions: Liquors from different regions have unique characteristics influenced by local ingredients, climate, and production techniques. For example, Scotch from Scotland, Bourbon from the USA, Tequila from Mexico, etc. Trying liquors from various regions can help you understand and appreciate the diversity.
  4. Understand the Aging and Maturation Process: The aging process can significantly affect the flavor of the liquor. For instance, aged rum or whiskey can have complex flavors compared to their younger counterparts. Learning about the aging process can help you choose according to your taste preferences.
  5. Mixology and Cocktails: Some liquors are best enjoyed in cocktails. Experiment with different cocktail recipes to understand how the flavors of certain spirits blend with other ingredients.
  6. Food Pairing: Certain liquors pair exceptionally well with specific types of food. Exploring food and liquor pairings can enhance your appreciation and might influence your preferences.
  7. Read Reviews and Recommendations: Look for reviews and recommendations from experts and enthusiasts. This can provide insights into quality and flavor profiles and can guide you in making informed decisions.
  8. Price Points and Quality: While expensive liquors are often of high quality, many affordable options are excellent as well. Don’t overlook lesser-known brands or budget-friendly options.
  9. Keep an Open Mind: Be open to trying new and unfamiliar liquors. Your taste preferences can evolve, and you might find a new favorite.
  10. Health and Moderation: Always remember to enjoy liquor responsibly and in moderation. Be mindful of your health and the effects of alcohol.
  11. Join Communities or Clubs: Consider joining liquor enthusiast communities or clubs where members share their experiences and knowledge. This can be a great way to learn and discover new favorites.

Three friends are sitting in a room, drinking wine and talking

Conclusion

In concluding our exploration of the world’s 15 most popular liquors, we’ve journeyed across cultures and continents, delving into the rich heritage each spirit embodies. Reflecting humanity’s vast spectrum, each spirit enriches the global panorama of flavors and stories, inviting us to experience and connect with different cultures. These spirits, whether enjoyed straight, in cocktails, or with friends, transcend boundaries, celebrating the artistry of distillation and our collective quest for discovery. In raising a glass to these remarkable liquors, we toast to the creative spirit and cultural legacy that they represent. If you’re looking for something beyond the most popular liquors, take a look at some of our articles about beer and wine.

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