Jun 9, 2011 3:52:28 AM
Around the world in 5 signature drinks
Drinking and holidays go together quite well, don’t you think? There’s a certain romance to sipping a cocktail in a strange city, and there’s no better way to make friends than to buy a round for your fellow travellers. Asia-Pacific travel editor Shawn Low mashes up drinks and travel, highlighting some classics and the best places to drink them!
Invented in the early 20th century by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon while working at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, Singapore. The cocktail is essentially a sweet red concoction which comprises pineapple juice, gin and Cointreau, among other ingredients.
While the atmosphere is a little contrived and the drink is overpriced and mass-produced to cope with demand, there really isn’t a better place to sample this than at the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Tourists pack the colonial-inspired bar where they can munch on peanuts and toss the shells on the polished floorboards while imbibing their $30 cocktail.
This famous drink, made traditionally with gin, dry vermouth and garnished with an olive was invented in the US and probably gained its fame thanks for Ian Fleming’s James Bond. For the classic (and anti-Bond) experience, have it stirred, not shaken.
The bar at the iconic Algonquin Hotel in New York serves up the world’s most expensive martini. At $1000, the ‘Martini on the Rock’ is strictly for the rich and, perhaps, the crazy. It’s a regular martini except for the replacement of the olive with a half-carat diamond. While you’re there, look out for New York’s oldest bartender, Hoy Wong. He was still serving drink at age 94 at last count.
Legend has it that Piña Colada was invented by Caribe Hilton’s bartender, Ramón ‘Monchito’ Romero, after three months of experimentation. The original recipe included white rum, pineapple juice and cream of coconut. Puerto Rico’s government recognised its contribution to the world at large by declaring it the national drink in 1978.
Head to the Oasis Bar at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan. While it’s now missing all the glamour and tiki-chic of the heady ’50s, it is the birthplace of the piña colada.
Not be outdone by Puerto Rico, Cuba has its own variation of sweet rum-based drinks. Like most other drinks of legend, the origins of the daiquiri are shrouded in myth and quite often disputed. One legend has it that a bunch of American mining engineers working in Santiago came up with the concoction in 1900, though the recipe involving white rum, lime juice and syrup has been around in some form or another since the 1700s. Hemingway and JFK were both big fans of this particular tipple.
Head to the source for a classic daiquiri – the El Floridita bar (Calle Obispa 557 esq. a Monserrate) in Havana was once a Hemingway haunt and this old school bar is still serving, complete with a bronze impression of Hemingway leaning on the bar with a book by his side.
Many would call the amber ale the king of alcoholic beverages and it’s possibly one of the oldest too – evidence of beer production has been found dating back to Mesopotamian times. The United States leads the world in beer production: over 6 BILLION gallons are brewed a year.
For getting into the beer big time, there’s nothing like hitting the world’s largest beer festival – Munich’s Oktoberfest. Sure, the price of a stein of beer may be going up each year, but people are still packing it in. Over six million visitors get sloshed on everything from wheat beer to dark ale.
Further reading: World’s best booze (and where to drink it)