The global novel coronavirus pandemic may have grounded us, but we can still enjoy happy hour. This daily series will provide delicious drink recipes for you to try at home. So call your friends for a virtual sip session and traverse the globe, even if it's only in your mind. 

Today's cocktail hails from Russia – Kvas.

What is it?

On a hot afternoon when the sun hangs high over the glittering domes of town, nothing quite refreshes like kvas, a naturally fermented drink made from bread that Russians and Ukrainians have been drinking for centuries. 


No one knows who first struck upon the idea of soaking bread in water, adding some yeast and waiting for it to ferment. But what is certain is that Slavic peoples have been drinking kvas since at least the Middle Ages. It was commonly consumed during Peter the Great’s reign and enjoyed wide popularity during the Soviet days, when kvas was sold out of big yellow barrels. You can still see them in towns beyond the big cities. 

You'll need (Makes 10 liters) 

10 liters water 
1 lb (450g) of black, rye or brown bread 
1 ½ tbs of dry yeast 
800g sugar 


Step 1: Put the water into a stockpot and bring to a boil. While water is heating, toast bread (stale bread works best for kvas). 
Step 2: When water boils, remove from heat and add bread. Cover and let stand overnight. On the second day, remove the bread. 
Step 3: Mix together the yeast and sugar and add to the stockpot. Cover and leave to stand at room temperature for another six to eight hours. 
Step 4: Using a strainer or cheesecloth, pour the kvas into containers (plastic bottles work best) and store overnight in the fridge. Enjoy! 

Tasting notes

Kvas is synonymous with summertime. With those long hot days, kvas vendors arrive in droves, doling out the cold, slightly frothy beverage from sidewalk stands all across Russia, Ukraine and beyond. It may sound off-putting – it’s made from rye or black bread, has a slightly sour tang and is poured from a spigot – but once you taste it, you’re hooked. And with its low alcohol content (typically around 1%) and cheap prices (about 40 rubles, less than US$1), you can drink to your heart’s content. Kvas enthusiasts also tout its health benefits – and with beneficial live bacteria in every glass they may be on to something. While easy to prepare, kvas takes a few days to make from start to finish owing to the fermentation process. 

For more cocktail recipes, check out our Destination Drinks page.  

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