(lime wedges, granulated sugar and Sagatiba Pura)
Acclaimed as the national drink of Brazil (what is ours? Budweiser maybe?), this sugary cocktail contains cachaca, a rum-like liquor with a sad, but true, history. Brought over by Portuguese settlers, cachaca was given to slaves to increase productivity (seems counter-productive but sure why not?). After slavery was outlawed in 1888, all Brazilians began whipping these suckers up for themselves to enjoy. The Caipirinha pairs well with a white linen shirt, coconutty sunscreen and a lay on a warm Brazilian beach.
(bottle of wine, sliced fruit, honey, triple sec and a big pitcher)
The jungle juice of Spain, this beverage is traditionally enjoyed in groups (hence the pitcher). Since wine in Spain is insanely cheap (we're talking less than a dollar per bottle, even cheaper for a box if you're really scrounging), this drink is quite popular among the backpacking elite. The type of wine used and the fruit thrown inside vary regionally, with the red ("sangre" or blood in Spanish) version being the most popular.
(single-malt, nothing else needed)
The "single" part means only one grain (barley) is used. To "malt" means to allow barley to germinate (thank you Keith). The "scotch" part, well that's the most important. Single malt scotch is ONLY considered such if it is made in Scotland and aged for no less than three years. If you're man (woman) enough, we dare you to gather up some hostelmates and go on one of these distillery tours. Pricing is specific to your group's size and preferences. The tour includes a designated driver. One thing for sure, all of you will leave smelling like drunken Scotsmen (and women).
(Marula Tree Juice, Mangos for garnish)
The presentation of this one is the key. A South African classic, this drink is traditionally served with two ear-shaped dried mango pieces attached to your glass. Why elephants? The symbolism lies in that various animals, including elephants, eat the fruit of the Marula tree regularly. The tree bears fruit with a high alcoholic content which often makes the animals drunk as hell. We don't know how you feel, but we think this guy needs to go to AAA (animal alcoholics anonymous) pronto.
The Pisco Sour
(Pisco, lime juice, egg whites, simple syrup and bitters)
You put "sour" after any word and it sounds like you have drink ordering authority; it's very James Bondish. This Peruvian drink wields so much power that it has a national holiday (National Pisco Sour Day happens the first Saturday of February). Mostly a great excuse to get the entire nation drunk, this holiday celebrates the concoction and its rebellious origins. In the 1700s, Spanish colonialists brought the grape to Peru. During that time, making wine was prohibited. People came up with prohibition era uses for grapes that weren't quite wine but still had a high enough alcoholic content to keep people happily intoxicated. Pisco (a brandy-like grape liquor) was born and became Peru's local drink of choice.
(ingredients: the devil and his friends)
Russians drink vodka, not a big surprise and this type of vodka is the most authentic of all. Forget Absolute and Stolichnaya, Samagonka is the general name for vodka that has been distilled in a basement . . . at home . . . from potatoes. Most retailers in Russia will not carry it, so to get a taste you have to put your social skills to work. Old Russian men will always have at least a liter of this stuff sitting around. Befriend one and you will be taking shots with the pros (and chasing those shots with pickles and cold cuts) in no time. If you get really friendly, please refer to the conveniently provided hangover cures at the end of this article.
(Mint, Rum, Sugar, Lime and Soda)
Cubans are brilliant! Their national cocktail is both a breath-freshener (all that mint) and a panty-dropper (inhibitions cannot withstand this sweet liquid rum candy). We hail it the perfect hook-up drink. The name has been rumored to mean two different things. One interpretation comes from the Spanish word for "a little wet" (well that's suggestive) and the other is from an African word for "a little spell". Either way, we're pretty sure the mojito is how Ricky got Lucy.
3 Hangover Cures
(shot of vodka, tomato juice, celery stick, squeeze of lemon, few shakes of cayenne pepper)
A drink to cure a hangover? Can't be true. The infamous breakfast Bloody Mary contains tomato juice which is rumored to dilute the ouchy effects of a bad hangover (the spicy cayenne is there to kick you in the balls so you reconsider overdrinking next time). Invented by a French guy in New York, this drink combines the tomato and "hair of the dog" hangover cures and is sure to have you on your way to recovery (or perpetual drunken "I don't give a shit" world).
Need to get from Brazil (where you had one too many Caipirinhas) to Peru (to celebrate National Pisco Sour Day)? Book the longest red-eye bus ride available. This way, not only are you saving money by taking the turtle route, you sleep the entire time and the hangover becomes yesterday's news. Employ these safety techniques while you snooze the booze away and you'll be golden.
Hard to do when alcohol is safer than water in third world countries but a must to cure your dehydrated partied-out self. Most bottled water is fine so buy in bulk and drink at least 16 oz before going to bed post-party. This is also a great time to whip out those water-purifying tablets we told you about. Stay moist friends.
Between the cheap beers and boxed wine, that random jungle juice and straight shots, give these traditional drinks a try in their countries of origin. Chances are their American versions pale in comparison and you get no bragging rights for drinking mojitos at your local boozery (like you would if you had one on a beach in Copacabana).