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Top 10 Strangest Liquors in the World

What drink do you fancy? People all over the world enjoy raising a glass and sipping on a beverage as a favourite pastime. It’s what’s in their glass that may cause us to raise an eyebrow. Check out the top 10 list of the oddest alcoholic drinks found around the globe

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1. Chicha (the Old-School Method)

Some drinks get your mouth watering, but others start with your mouth watering. No joke. If you’ve ever had chicha, you’d know. The person making traditional fermented chicha chews corn kernels then spits them out. The enzymes of the saliva break down the root to fermentable sugars and so the process begins. It is a sort of cloudy, yellow color and a bit sour. You can still find this in some places in Central America, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. Anything found commercially doesn’t involve that chewing part. (Photo by synaethesia / Flickr Creative Commons)

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2. Kumis

What could be less appetizing than mare’s milk? Fermenting it. Milk doesn’t keep well and so one needs a method of preservation. Cheese isn’t such a bad idea, you’d think. Kumis is made with unpasteurized fresh milk from a horse which is stirred over the course of a few days as it ferments. This drink is still popular in Central Asia and can be picked up in bottles at the store. It smells as bad as it tastes – though that is obviously a subjective matter. If you find it too harsh, apparently the similarly fermented camel’s milk is smoother. In case you were wondering. (Photo by Sara Yeomans / Flickr Creative Commons)

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3. Baby Mouse Wine

Any list of strange liquors has to include some critters. The worm in the bottom of a tequila bottle? Amateur hour. How about a fetal mouse or three floating around down there? This isn’t a Bob and Doug MacKenzie ploy to return a bottle of beer for a free case from the manufacturer. The bottlers put them in there intentionally. No, you can’t ferment a mouse. The base is rice wine and as with most critter liquors, there are claims of medicinal effects. You can still find this in some places in China and Korea, though for whatever reason, it really isn’t terribly popular. (Photo by synaethesia / Flickr Creative Commons)

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4. Liquor of Snake… or Scorpion? Or Perhaps a blend?

Your first thought on seeing a bottle of this stuff in a Southeast Asian market might be: good grief – why? The next thought should be: how did they get a snake/scorpion into a bottle like that? Wine can be a misnomer. While some bottles are rice-wine based, many others may include grain alcohol or regional whisky. The concept, from traditional Chinese medicine, is that the venom of the snake dispersed in the liquor has health and vitality benefits. Any venom, in fact, would break down in the mix and while it steeps for several months. (Photo by Kevin Revolinski)

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5. Absinthe

Green anise and sweet fennel are the dominant ingredients in this almost legendary liquor. Its alcohol content can range from 90 proof to nearly 150, but its reputation as a psychoactive substance is what gets most people talking about it. In the United States and Europe, absinthe was banned for much of the 20th century. In Switzerland, its country of origin, it was even banned in the nation’s constitution. But it hasn’t proven to be any more mind-altering than other potent alcoholic beverages. Typically it is mixed with water which is poured over a sugar cube suspended over the glass by a special slotted spoon. The green color comes from the chlorophyll of the herbs used in its production. (Photo by Jack Newton / Flickr Creative Commons)

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6. Becherovka

This aromatic liqueur from the Czech Republic is dominated by an anise meets cloves flavor. The recipe itself has about 34 herbs. We say “about” because only two people know for sure, and those two men are responsible for mixing up the secret recipe for its production. It was first produced in 1807 by Josef Becher, a Bohemian pharmacist in Karlovy Vary. Like other herbal bitters, Becherovka is a digestive and can calm a troubled stomach or offer some great relief after a big meal. It is served cold, straight or with tonic. (Photo by Nick Sieger / Flickr Creative Commons)

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7. Kvass

Beer has sometimes affectionately been referred to as “liquid bread” as the ingredients – grain, yeast, water – are basically the same. But this fermented drink is actually produced from bread itself. Kvass is rye bread baked into croutons and then soaked in water with yeast, sugar and perhaps a bit of fruit. This is a good way to use up your stale bread. However, it is actually very low in alcohol content, less than 1.2%, bordering on “near beer” levels. It is traditionally drunk in the summer, though in modern times it is available commercially year-round, and in places like Russia, promoted as a cola alternative. Vendors can even be found dispensing it in the streets of Uzbekistan. (Photo by Alexander Plushev / Flickr Creative Commons)

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8. Cynar

Nothing says “delicious drink” like an artichoke. In Italy, this bittersweet, brown liqueur made from artichoke and 12 herbs is considered a good pre-meal tipple. However, as it is also considered a bitters, it does well as a postprandial digestive. It was first produced in the 1950s, but Gruppo Campari bought it in 1995 and began pushing it for its digestive properties. Containing 16.5% alcohol, Cynar is a bit gentler than the big liquors and in places such as Switzerland, is often mixed with orange juice. But it also does well in cola or soda water. (Photo by Lisa-Tozzi / Flickr Creative Commons)

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9. Akvavit

Clocking in at 80 proof, this Scandinavian spirit is often a part of a tradition known as “snaps.” Dinner guests lift their glasses for a sip each time the host interrupts the meal for the toast. Eye contact among all the guests is important. As it is made from potatoes or grains, it is similar to vodka. But the addition of flavors after the distillation set it apart. In this case the common taste among the assorted brand and recipes is caraway seed. Depending on how long it ages in oak casks, the color of Akvavit ranges from clear to light brown. The name has Latin origins meaning “water of life” and as with so many (too many?) alcoholic beverages, it comes with claims to boost health and vigor. (Photo by Bruce Turner / Flickr Creative Commons)

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10. Pizza Beer

No, I don’t mean pizza and beer. This is a brew flavored with oregano, tomatoes, garlic and basil. Does that sound a bit off? Tom and Athena Seefurth of Campton Township, Illinois aimed to homebrew a perfect beer to pair with pizza. What they came up with-Mamma Mia Pizza Beer-is a minor hit. Each batch is made with pizza margherita ingredients on a whole wheat crust chopped up and steeped inside the mash like a tea bag. All pieces then are kept out of the beer, so its just the essence of pizza here. You’re only going to find in stores in the American Midwest, but thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can order some online. I wonder… can you get that with extra cheese? (Photo by USB / Flickr Creative Commons)