Travel the World
10 Places To Sip An Iconic Drink
If you like a little history with your beverage, these 10 iconic drink-location combos will be sure to slake your thirst.
Pina Colada – San Juan, Puerto Rico
“If you like pina coladas…” then go to Puerto Rico. Legend has it that after months of painstaking research and no doubt many hangovers, the barman at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan finally hit upon the perfect combination of white rum, cream of coconut and pineapple juice. The resulting drink was a hit and its reputation and recipe was spread far and wide by visitors to the hotel. Now, the Oasis Bar at the Caribe boasts that it is the home of the famous drink. Like Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, much of the bygone appeal is missing, but you can’t get closer to a perfect historical environment than the birthplace of the drink itself.
Scotch Whisky – Countryside of Scotland
Famous brands like Glenfiddich and Johnnie Walker, which are widely known and available abroad, only represent a tiny fraction of the Scotch whisky distilleries spread throughout Scotland. Many of these produce Scotch that is rarely sold outside of the country. Distilleries with obscure Scottish Gaelic names like Allt-á-Bhainne and Abhainn Dearg produce subtly flavoured Scotches that those who don’t visit the distilleries themselves will never taste. The best way to enjoy these undiscovered flavours is naturally by visiting the distilleries themselves, which often have hotels and restaurants attached. They are set up to provide connoisseurs and dilettantes alike with a true Scotch whisky experience.
Double Double – Hamilton, Ontario
Few Canadian drinks are more ubiquitous than the Tim Hortons double double. They can be found steaming in mittened hands, resting precariously above the car stereo in a bumper-to-bumper commute across the country and even being served up at Canadian military bases around the world. For a unique Timmy’s experience, coffee drinkers should hunt down the original Tim Hortons store in Hamilton, Ontario, on the corner of Ottawa Street and Dunsmure Road. A plaque and a few Tim Horton’s signatures and photos are the only things that set it apart from the standard layout, but Store #1 imbues the double double with a serving of history in addition to the two creams and two sugars.
Darjeeling Tea – Darjeeling, India
The history of tea is rife with political intrigue and cultural revolution. Tea held most of European society in thrall for several centuries and was in part responsible for the establishment of the British East India Company, probably the most powerful corporation in history. The Company, as it was known, controlled all manner of products coming out of the subcontinent, including the famous Darjeeling tea, which the British themselves planted and cultivated. Available in black, white, green and oolong varieties, a cuppa is best enjoyed at a tea estate in India‘s northeast, overlooking picturesque tea terraces with the white-tipped Himalayas scraping the sky in the distance.
Port Wine – Porto, Portugal
Numerous wines have distinct origins and protected names (think Bordeaux or Chianti), but few are as distinctive as porto, or port wine, that originates in the Douro region of Portugal. This fortified wine is commonly drunk as a dessert wine, though its many varieties are apparent when visiting liquor dispensaries in the city of Porto, where most of the drink historically went to market and where port wine derives its name. Dusty bottles of the stuff on offer for up to tens of thousands of dollars are displayed next to freshly bottled batches. Porto is the oldest wine appellation in the world. If there’s one wine worth making a pilgrimage for, it’s this.
Ice Wine – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Ice wine necessitates taking the abundance of summer (vines sagging with grapes) and letting the brittle winds of winter solidify the fruit during the first fast freeze of the year. These rock solid grapes are then harvested and pressed in freezing conditions conditions. It’s the kind of drink that evokes the best and worst of the Canadian climate. Since many agree that ice wine is best consumed young, and so for that you should go straight to the source: Ontario, where some three quarters of ice wine in Canada is made. On the Niagara escarpment, you can sample the drink at local wineries like Inniskillin or Pillitteri, or at the annual Ice Wine festival in January.
Newfoundland Screech – St. John’s, Newfoundland
Long ago, there was a fair amount of trade between Newfoundland and the West Indies, with salt fish going one way and copious amounts of rum coming back up to Canada. Legend has it that an American serviceman’s screaming reaction to drinking some of the Caribbean firewater is the source of the name of that rum from the Rock: Screech. Nowadays, getting screeched in is a Newfoundland tradition that many bars and pubs are happy to perform for you. The taste of the drink might be memorable in all the wrong ways, but there’s really no other way to become an honourary Newfoundlander.
Guinness – Dublin, Ireland
Leprechauns, shamrocks and Guinness might well be the three things most often associated with Ireland. And there is no better place to sip a pint o’ the black stuff than in Dublin at the St. James’s Gate Brewery. Opened in 1759, the brewery still churns out casks of Guinness today. The Guinness Storehouse, a Guinness-themed museum is found on site, and is a favourite spot to find a pint of Ireland’s favourite drink. But really, any pub in Dublin will have the stuff on tap and provide a quintessential Guinness drinking experience.
Manhattan – New York City, USA
J.P. Morgan is said to have drank a Manhattan at the end of each trading day. And now, though Manhattans are served far and wide, there is still no better way to replicate the monochromatic New York City atmosphere of yesteryear than by sipping this iconic cocktail at an old-fashioned tavern or cocktail bar near New York’s financial district. The Manhattan Club itself is where the eponymous drink was (likely apocryphally) invented and would be the obvious choice for its historic connection to the drink. However, NYC is full of classic-looking cocktail bars, like The Dead Rabbit in Lower Manhattan, that can mix rye and vermouth (and maraschino cherry) with turn-of-the-century charm.
Singapore Sling – Singapore
If you’re in Singapore looking for the fabled Singapore Sling, most people will point you to the Raffles Hotel, where the drink was invented almost 100 years ago. The Singapore Sling is a refreshing antidote to the city-nation’s year-round heat. Gin and brandy are combined with grenadine, benedictine, cointreau, bitters and pineapple and lemon juice to produce this classic tropical cocktail. Imbiber beware, though: the Raffles Hotel may well provide the signature Singapore Sling experience, but the colonial charm is not what it once was. It will cost you, too: a single Sling will run you $20.