If you are touring Europe and want to appreciate the culture and the people and to understand a country, then have a drink in a local bar.
When holidaying in Rome do as the Romans do. But despite being the centre of white-wine production, with Frascati being the most famous of the wine-producing hill towns that surround the city, a Roman drinks grappa.
Grappa is made from pomace - the grape skins, seeds and stalks left over after wine making. Once distilled, the resulting grappa is either bottled immediately, creating white grappa, or aged in wooden casks to create brown-hued grappa known as riserva.
Flavoured with almonds, honey or blueberries, grappa is drunk as a shot and most Italian households serve it straight from the freezer. It can also be added to an espresso at the end of a meal to make a ‘caffee coretto’, or corrected coffee.
In Athens they drink ouzo. Traditionally believed to be the result of experimentation by 14th-century monks, the drink increased in popularity in the late 19th century because of its flavour.
Made by distilling pressed fruit and flavoured by anise, ouzo can be drunk as a shot but is usually served as an aperitif in a small glass accompanied by a glass of water. Mixed with water, the ouzo turns from clear to cloudy white.
In Greece, ouzo is a sociable drink and usually served with a snack, or meze, such as feta cheese, tomato, fish, calamari or olives. The drink is sipped slowly over the course of an evening.
Invented by a Dutch chemist, jenever was first touted as a medicinal cure in the 16th century.
In the 17th century, it began to be appreciated for its flavour and now it is the drink of choice in Amsterdam. Jenever is distilled from malt wine to 50 per cent proof and because of its distressing taste is flavoured with juniper berries, earning it the nickname Dutch or Holland gin.
There are two types of jenever, oude (old) and jonge (young), so named because of the different distilling techniques. Oude jenever has a smooth, aromatic, woody flavour. Jonge has a more neutral taste with the aroma of juniper berries.
Jonge jenever is served ice cold from the freezer and oude jenever, which is of a higher quality and has a whisky taste, is served at room temperature. It tells you all you need to know that jenever, when served as a lager chaser, is known as koptstoot, or head butt.
In Krakow the drink is wodka, pronounced voodkah – what we would call vodka. Surprisingly, Russia stole vodka from the Poles, with the first written record of the drink being in Polish court registry of 1405. Polish vodka, generally 40 per cent or 45 percent proof, is served chilled in a shot glass.
Polish vodka comes in many varieties. The most popular is czysta wodka (absolute vodka), though there are vodkas distilled from potatoes or rye and others flavoured with juniper, plum, cherry or caraway seed.
Vermouth is a truly European drink, initially made in Italy and France. It takes its name from a German word meaning woodworm. But the Catalan city of Barcelona in Spain is where you will find vermouth al gripo, or vermouth on tap.
The bitter herbal wine is, in most European countries and particularly America, used as a cocktail mixer in drinks such as Manhattans or martinis, but in Spain vermouth is a popular drink on its own and served as an aperitif with tapas.
‘Vermut’ bars all over Barcelona serve their own vermouths, in either shot or tall glasses adorned with olives. Each bar claims its vermouth is made from a secret, closely guarded family recipe and is the oldest, the best or the most prestigious one in the city.
In any of these great destinations sound like somewhere you would like to visit for your hen do visit TravelSupermarket for great deals on all your travel needs from cheap flights to Barcelona to bargain hotels in Rome.