Continuing with our series on excellent après and nicely segued from our guide to mountain food, we’ve put together this list of intriguing national and regional beverages for your perusal.
After what seems like weeks of festive drinking and Dry January, the last thing on most people’s minds is booze. With the season in full flow however, many of you heading to the slopes over the next few months will almost certainly be enjoying a tipple or two. Not that we would ever condone or encourage on-slope drinking…
Some tipples like mulled wine are reliably enjoyed the world over: known as gluhwein in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, vin chaud in France, vin brulé in Italy and glögg in Scandinavia, it’s a great drink for warming yourself up at the end of a long day on the slopes.
Another popular choice is hot chocolate. To add something extra, lots of ski bars offer to add a measure of brandy or whiskey to give it a kick; perfect for when you’re really cold.
Aside from the perennial favourites however, there are some unique drinks which go hand-in-hand with skiing and après, whether national, cultural or regional. Here are some of the best.
It’s pretty hard to choose a favourite in Austria, there are just so many, from Jägermeister to Flugel to a bizarre mix of Fanta and Coke called Spezi.
One thing Austria is undoubtedly renowned for (and proud of) though is its beer. Beer is as much a part of the Austrian way of life as Lederhosen and strudel. What more is there to say? Beer is beer. Whether it’s a big one or a little one, drunk at lunch, at après-ski or in the bar at night, you can’t really go wrong.
Not exactly famous for its traditional food or drink, Bulgaria is better known for its incredible value. One drink that’s a favourite in Southeast Europe however is rakia; Bulgaria is even trying to have it declared as a national drink to lower the duty on it. Rakia is a plum brandy typically consumed as an aperitif alongside the starter to your evening meal. Equally often though, it is served hot, sweetened and spiced – we like the latter option!
If Rakia doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always give Oblak a try. This popular cocktail is made by mixing Mastika, an anise-flavoured liqueur, with Mentha, a sweet mint liqueur – an interesting and divisive combination.
We were surprised in our research to find that the Canadians are associated with quite the range of drinks. From British Columbian Kokanee beer to Canadian Club rye whiskey and Yukon Jack, a 100% proof liquor that’s perfect sipped from a hip flask on a chilly ski lift.
One drink however seems by far the most popular: The Caesar.
Caesars are not really that well known outside of the country. Typically drunk around breakfast time and to help ease hangovers, the Caesar is an adaptation of a Bloody Mary. It consists of vodka, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and a spiced tomato drink called Clamato juice – a mixture of tomato juice and clam broth. We know this might sound pretty gross, but trust us, it’s well worth a go whenever you’re feeling a bit worse for wear!
Some rather interesting concoctions can be found in Finland. The first that caught our eye was Fisu – a shot made from vodka and Fisherman’s Friends. It was described to us by a member of our team as “feeling like you’ve been punched in the mouth by a mint”. Delightful! And if that doesn’t tempt you, then how about Salmiakki? A salty liquorice shot that tastes as good as it sounds.
The favourites in France usually consist of demi-peche (a small beer mixed with peach schnapps), Génépi (a herbal liquor made from a mountain plant) and Chartreuse, a very strong 55% spirit reportedly made from 130 herbs.
If you fancy moving away from the more traditional options though, we’ve got you covered: The 10/80 is a brutal take on the white wine spritzer, favoured by seasonnaires and Après Animals. Start with an empty pint glass, add half a bottle of white wine, and then a shot of any syrup you like (our personal favourite is a 50/50 mix of raspberry and lemon). Top it up with soda or lemonade and you have a rather lethal cocktail.
When you think of Italy, you think coffee. The Italian classic comes in so many forms – espresso, cappuccino, latte macchiato. For an alcoholic twist on your caffeine fix, we recommend a caffé corretto, which comes with an added shot of grappa, sambuca or brandy.
On a sunny March ski day, I love a refreshing Aperol Spritz on the sun terrace. A favourite of many skiers and boarders though is the Bombardino. This creamy alcoholic drink is a mix of eggnog and brandy, served hot and topped with whipped cream. The name apparently originates from one of the first people to try it, exclaiming in Italian “it’s like a bomb” – we don’t think he was far wrong.
Akvavit, (‘water of life’) is a traditional Scandinavian spirit. It has a distinctive flavour derived from the herbs and spices used in its production. The Scandi’s indulge at Christmas and other celebrations, but us Brits never need an excuse! Enjoy it as a cheeky warm up on a chilly day or as a digestif after stuffing your face at dinner. Bottoms up.
Ah, the American classics: sipping a Coors after a day on the slopes, necking a shot of smooth, sweet Tuaca or chilling out with a Margarita. The latter might not be American exactly, but it’s a favourite nonetheless. You’ll be hard pushed to find a bar or restaurant in the Rockies where this isn’t on the menu.
In recent times, microbrewery beer has become all the rage in the US and Canada. And they often come with some interesting names – anybody for a glass of Arrogant Bastard ale? This cocky ale was introduced to the unsuspecting public in 1997 and “openly challenged the tyrannical overlords who were brazenly attempting to keep Americans chained in the shackles of poor taste”. Well that’s us told then. Give it a try if you have the taste and sophistication to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.