There’s something thrilling about discovering a local watering hole and enjoying a hometown spirit after a long day of travel. It can be a moment of reflection and ideas, or the chance to meet new friends or catch up with old flames. Sharing a drink is an age-old tradition that the entire world shares. Leave your nearest cocktail behind to explore these cities for an entirely new drinking experience.
1. WASHINGTON, D.C. FOR A VINTAGE DRINK
Washington, D.C.’s drink scene is exploding into more than just a stiff drink made for lobbyists and politicos. America’s capital is undergoing a renaissance especially when it comes to craft cocktails. Columbia Room in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood is bringing back old favorites with a twist. Cocktails are handmade and served in vintage glassware in an atmosphere that makes you nostalgic for the Prohibition era and America’s speakeasies. Sip on a classic in D.C.
2. MUNICH FOR A TRADITIONAL BAVARIAN BEER
This German city is most widely known for Oktoberfest, a 184-year-old tradition that celebrates beer and German culture. Though most plan their vacations around Oktoberfest, you can go to Munich anytime of year to taste a delicious Bavarian beer. Beer gardens and bars flood the streets in Munich. Many have family style tables, which makes everyone feel as if they are part of a constant party. Hofbräuhaus München, founded in 1589 by Wilhelm V., Duke of Bavaria, is one of Munich’s most famous beer halls and a must-see for visitors. The hall has all the bells, whistles, and beer maids to bring you back to its founding.
3. BUENOS AIRES FOR THE OENOPHILE
Argentina is considered one of the world’s top wine producers and exporters. Buenos Aires, the nation’s capital and largest city, is at the center of it all. Keep up with the posh pace of the city and head to Gran Bar Danzónto choose a glass from a 300 bottle wine list or, even better, go on a tasting journey to learn from an expert. Savor your Malbec because you won’t taste it like this anywhere else.
4. DUBLIN FOR WHISKEY IN THE HOMELAND
Though Scotch may come first to mind, Irish whiskey has a cultlike following. Ireland is experiencing a whiskey boom with cities like Dublinseeing craft distilleries and bars pop up seemingly overnight. Places like The Dingle Whiskey Bar, named after the Dingle Distillery in County Kerry, truly celebrate Irish heritage. Whiskey tastings are regular occurrences for newbies and experts alike. Find blended malts, single malts or single pot still options. Try them all in this mecca for whiskey-lovers.
5. TOKYO FOR UNDERGROUND SAKE
There’s no better city in the world for sake than Tokyo, Japan. The Japanese have a strong tradition of making sake, a drink made from fermented rice. The drink has a rich cultural background that makes drinking out of an ochoko, a traditional ceramic cup, a celebration with every sip. The Hasegawa Saketen chain offers some of the best sake that Tokyo has to offer. Even more, you can have a drink while you wait for the train to your next adventure at their location inside the railway station, which opens as early as 7 a.m. Sometimes the best choices are the most unexpected.
6. NELSON FOR THE PERFECT CIDER
Nelson, New Zealand, has one of the heaviest concentrations of cideries in New Zealand, so it’s heaven for cider seekers. The city is even home to Zealand’s first cider festival when people come from all over the world to be a part of the festivities. So, where to go first? While each locale has its own flair, McCashins Brewery has one of the largest legacies and includes fresh organic ingredients in all their ciders. When visiting, also make sure to try mulled and slushy cider, too.
7. MEXICO CITY TO THROW BACK REPOSADO
Mexico City is home to world-renowned tacos and, for the tequila lover, outstanding reposados made from 100 percent agave. For over 90 years, Salón Tenampa has brought tourists and locals together over mariachi tunes and fiery reposado shots. These shots are usually sipped quickly but are meant to be enjoyed. A quality reposado, like the ones found at this cantina, can be ordered neat or on the rocks.
8. LONDON FOR DRINKS “SHAKEN AND NOT STIRRED”
Though British icon James Bond’s fascination with gin martinis seemed to have pushed gin into the global purview, London has a long history of gin and gin lovers throughout the country. The Portobello Star has been open since 1740 and attracts all sorts of gin-loving characters. The distillery and pub sits in the Notting Hill neighborhood and quietly beckons visitors to test their gin knowledge through tours and classes at their “Ginstitute,” which is about a block away. The old-timey menu reminds visitors of the sophistication and discourse of a simpler time only London can claim.
9. ST. PETERSBURG FOR A LUX VODKA SELECTION
St. Petersburg has become a mishmash of every type of bar you can imagine, but there are still a wide variety of bars meant for that original Russian vodka experience. Like the ryumochnaya of old, the vodka bars pull in an eclectic clientele. In the past, a ryumochnaya was meant to defy the social norms as a place for everyone to just enjoy a drink. A high government official could be sitting happily next to a laborer. Though Khroniki Bar has a higher-end ambiance than the ryumochnaya, it stands out as one of the best vodka bars and with the most diverse clientele. Don’t leave without trying the Free Ingria vodka cocktail, with a mix of cranberries, cloudberry liqueur, apple juice, vodka, and Angostura bitters.
10. NEW ORLEANS FOR THE FIRST COCKTAIL
There are a lot of reasons to hit New Orleans, including the city’s annual Mardi Gras, the culture on Bourbon Street and Creole eats. But New Orleans is also home to what many believe is America’s first cocktail: the Sazerac. In 1838 Antoine Peychaud used French brandy and Peychaud’s bitters to create the delicious cocktail and kicked off a drink revolution. Restaurants like Compère Lapin stay true to the New Orleans spirit, while preparing exciting new options like the 17th Hour, a mix of gin, wine, pear brandy and bitters.
This feature originally appeared in National Geographic.