Of course the stereotypical French drink is wine, and there are all those famous brandies like cognac, armagnac, and calvados — but the star anise-flavored spirit called pastis is a definitive French classic, associated especially with Provence but enjoyed in cafés all over the country. Introduced by Paul Ricard in 1932 as a substitute for the then-banned absinthe, it is traditionally mixed with water, which turns it a distinctive milky yellow dolor.
Germany: Lager beer
It’s no secret that Germans are among the world’s thirstiest beer-drinkers, and there are many styles produced in (and imported into) the country. The most popular lager brand is Beck’s, which is a German version of Czech-style pilsner. Not all lager is pilsner, however (pilsners tend to be more heavily hopped), and a wide range of lagers may be found in German steins.
The signature Greek spirit is ouzo, which has similarities to France’s pastis. What’s absolutely unique to Greece, though, is retsina — wine flavored with Aleppo pine resin. The idea originated with the Ancient Greeks, who sealed clay amphorae with resin in pre-cork-and-bottle days to keep out the air. The resin lent its flavor to the wine, and by the time more efficient means of preserving the wine were invented, people had come to enjoy the piney tang.
Pálinka is the Hungarian version of the clear, potent fruit brandies produced all over Eastern and Central Europe. Apples, plums, and pears are among the fruits used to make it, but one of the most popular varieties is barackpálinka, based on apricots.
Every Indian restaurant menu seems to offer mango lassi — diluted yogurt flavored with mango pulp. There are other versions of this definitive Indian beverage, though, including some flavored with saffron or rosewater, a salty lassi that is basically diluted yogurt with salt, and even bhang lassi — infused with cannabis.
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