If y’all thought the World Cup was about to happen and we here at The Nobler Experiment weren’t going to do a World Cup of Booze, well, bless your heart. (I learned growing up, from my grandmother who lives in Virginia, that “bless your heart” is old Southern lady for “you’re a fucking idiot.”)
We’ll be going through all of the World Cup groups and informing you of the national drink, spirit, or cocktail from each country playing for glory down in Brazil. Because I don’t know about you, but nothing goes better with the Mexican national team playing soccer than [checks Google for Mexican national cocktail] dysentery? That sounds right to me! But to be safe we’ll do some more research so you can have the ultimate World Cup drinking experience, and maybe even impress some of your dumber friends.
Brazil: As the host country, Brazil gets the prestigious first spot in our World Cup of Booze. There have been myriad planning issues, protests about government spending, and worries about hot British WAGs getting kidnapped by Brazilian crime-lords, BUT NONE OF THAT MATTERS NOW because the World Cup is starting in two days (note: all of that still matters, but hey, sports!). The national cocktail of Brazil is the caipirinha, and not much is better on a sweltering, Brazilian jungle day. The ingredients are shockingly simple. You need: sugar, lime, and cachaca. Think you can handle that? I used to work at a Brazilian steakhouse in Wisconsin (so you know that shit’s authentic) and we would make caipirinha by the bucketload before each shift. Seriously, we used to muddle it all with a baseball bat. This concludes this week’s “How dirty are your cocktails at restaurants?” segment.
Croatia: There is a plum brandy called slivovitz that some Croats hold near and dear to their hearts, but Slovenia also lays claim to the slivovitz throne and no patriotic Croat is going to share anything with Slovenia! Instead, I found the new national drink of Croatia, the CROcktail. Invented by Marin Nekic, a master mixologist from Croatia, the CROcktail includes only ingredients native to Croatia. It is made with Maraschino liqueur (native to the Dalmatia region of Croatia), Maraska (sour cherry also native to Dalmatia) cherry juice, lemon juice, orange rind, and candied orange peel (known as arancini in Croatia). I would like to know if someone tries this one, because it sounds interesting and I’ve never been to Croatia.
Mexico: I know we joke about Mexico because they are our biggest rivals in soccer [starts chanting “dos a cero” in apartment], but they are also our friends just south of the border and we shouldn’t treat them poorly. Because if we do, they may stop shipping tequila here and WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF SENOR FROGS!?!?! The Spring Break fueling liquor is made from blue agave plants that grow in Mexico, and only Mexico. The traditional way to drink tequila is neat, without training wheels like some freshman Tri-Delt. A more exciting way to imbibe is to ry the bandera, which means “flag” in Spanish. It’s three shot glasses, one filled with tequila, one with lime juice, and one with sangrita; making up the colors of the Mexican flag. Tequila is a diverse liquor with many different styles, but if worst comes to worst you can always just make a margarita.
Cameroon: In Africa, one of the most popular drinks is palm wine. This is, admittedly, something I know little to nothing about (not an unusual feeling, BOOM ROASTED, self!) and so I had to do some of that aforementioned research. It was awful! However, I did learn some things about drinking culture in Africa like: palm wine is mostly a drink for men and drinking it is a highly social experience for Cameroonians, as they’ll often sit around with friends drinking it while listening to a live storytelling. Palm wine is called “matango” in Cameroonian slang and I also learned that Matango is a 1963 Japanese tokusatsu movie about mushroom people.
My new primary life goal is to watch this movie while drinking this beverage. Take a step back, “getting married next week.” I know all of the other videos linked in this post are from Martin Lawrence movies or Archer, but this one is actually educational and shows how palm wine is made. There is also an awesome knife and a weird French rap song, so stop reading and get to watching! Here is further reading from someone who knows a lot more about palm wine than me or you.
Spain: Man, I bet Spain would be such a cool place to visit. They’ve got beautiful sights, people, and soccer. Things could only be better if the Spaniards had some sort of quaffable cocktail that is best enjoyed as the sun is setting and you are waiting on the paella to finish. What’s that you say? Sangria is the cocktail I’m describing? Well, I’ll be a monkey’s adoptive father! Sangria is a wonderful combination of red wine, brandy, fruit, and a little bit of sugar. It’s best served in pitcher form on a patio (science!). And in a recent ruling, only sangria produced in Spain or Spain’s Mexico, Portugal, can be officially called sangria. The exclusivity makes it taste better.
Netherlands: Shameless plug alert: my bar currently has a cocktail on it’s list that features the national liquor of the Netherlands! It’s the punch at the bottom of this list, come say hi to me and I’ll make this for you. Oh, you don’t know what it is? It’s genever (or jenever if you’re Dutch). It is a juniper berry-based liquor that was gin before gin was gin. Confused? Genever’s origin story is shrouded in mystery and misremembered dates, in fact people can’t even agree on whether it was invented by the Dutch or the Belgians, but we here at The Nobler feel confident in labelling it the national drink of the Netherlands. Having tried some straight before, genever is a neutral, grainy spirit with hints of juniper on the palate. This was the thing you can impress your friends with, gin was originally invented in the Netherlands, not England!
Chile: Here we find another country that shares a national drink with another, albeit stupider and not even in the World Cup, country. Chile and Peru are both producers of pisco, although Chile produces 10 times more than Peru, so who’s really the pisco powerhouse? The Pisco Sour is probably the cocktail you’ve heard of, this we’ll have to give to Peru (it’s their national drink), but Chileans make a similar drink (just don’t add bitters or egg white, which is really half the fun, and I’m starting to regret speaking ill of Peru in the first place). The yellowish grape brandy is quite popular in South America as well as South American themed restaurants in Wisconsin.
Greece: We’ve all seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” right? Well I haven’t, but I’m assuming once they were done breaking plates and having hilarious misunderstandings that everyone sat down around a bottle of ouzo and got shit-housed drunk. Ouzo tastes like black licorice (or anise if you’re some sort of fancy word guy), which is usually a flavor I despise, but ouzo is somehow different. Maybe it’s because I’ve only really tried the aperitif while watching the Greek national team play at a bar in Chicago’s Greektown and it was bought for us by the owner and I didn’t want to look like a dick by saying I didn’t like it, or maybe it’s because ouzo is actually pretty tasty. Try it super cold, I’m serious about this…it should be very cold, before you have something slathered in tzatziki sauce. You’ll thank me later.
Colombia: An aguardiente is a Spanish term for a beverage that contains between 29% and 60% ABV. There are many different varieties and many South and Central American countries have their own. Colombia’s is an anise-flavored (there’s that word again!) liqueur that uses sugarcane. Even throughout Colombia’s many regions this aguardiente is made differently. It is best drunk neat and often.
Japan: Ahhhh, sake. You and I have had some terrible times together. Sake bombs were not meant to be had in quantities of more than six in a sitting apparently. Sake is often called Japanese rice wine, but when you look at the production process sake is made far more similarly to beer. Sake goes back as far as 3rd century Japan, so I can only assume samurais have made the same mistakes that I have in regards to sake consumption, not dying honorably. You can drink sake cold, warm, or room temp; it’s a versatile drink that way. I recommend it with a large can of Sapporo, but then again, I’m an idiot.
Cote d’Ivoire: The national drink of the Ivory Coast (because I’m not about to write in French again) is bangui. Like Cameroon, bangui is another form of palm wine and is milky white in color. It is nicely balanced between bitter and sweet on the tongue and is also the name of the capital of the Central African Republic. This is literally everything Google had on bangui. You’re welcome.
Costa Rica: Aguardiente ALERT!!! Aguardiente ALERT!!! Trust me we’re going to be very creative with our booze choices for the Central/South American countries from here on out. Otherwise, you’d be reading about the same drink at least five more times. It’s that popular and potent. In Costa Rica, the popular drink is guaro, which basically means “fire water.” It’s no joke. Not surprisingly, it was first produced by the poor class in homemade stills. Over time, it became a source of Costa Rican pride and now Cacique is one of the better known brands around.
Just like Chile’s pisco, guaro is best served featured in a guaro sour, which is totally boring. So instead, try it in a bloody mary with Lizano salsa instead of worcestershire sauce. The guaro will be happy enough to be included and won’t need to play a star show… much like that soccer team of theirs! But seriously, they’re just fodder for the other teams in Group D. They’ll be needing the fire water when they get home.
England: England seems like an alright place. I imagine it’s always between generally acceptable and moderately fun. Nothing better or worse, just consistent in being whelming (that works, right?). That’s how I feel about gin. It’s an alright drink. Bland being bland, I don’t expect much out of it ever, so it rarely disappoints.
The same cannot be said for the English team in most World Cups. Without fail the media, pundits and fans will progress from “If we make it out of the group, that’s an achievement.” to “You know what, Razza reminds me of a young Millsy and the Italians look weak. We may just sneak up on the whole tournament. By golly, I think the semis is the least we should aim for.” to “We’re too old/young. We have no truly world-class players. The drink/prostitute/race story will be a distraction.”
Italy: This is an old country, man. They can lay claim to any number of massively popular drinks as their own. I was originally going to highlight grappa since it’s “uniquely” Italian and is another“fire water.” Then I remembered that Danny DeVito owns a limoncello brand that uses lemons from Sorrento, Italy. Just look at this picture:
How could anything else better represent Italy?
Too true. Italy rides the man above out of the group. He’s too wonderful to only have around for three games.
Uruguay: Well, whaddaya know? Grappa is not unique to Italy. What a rip! Uruguay imported grappa-making and added their own little twist by including honey in the process. Grappamiel is what the Uruguayans call it and they put all sorts of flavors into it. Everything from chamomile to chocolate. It’s old, but versatile just like team Uruguay (In general. That forward line is not old!).
Ecuador: We need to talk about earlier when I said I wasn’t going to use any aguardiente-based drinks. I lied. Ecuador loves them some Canelazo, which is made using sugar cane alcohol, sugar, and water boiled with cinnamon. It’s a huge hit during Christmastime and can even be bought from street vendors during the holidays. I might need to try boiling some cinnamon-water myself. Sounds very interesting, unlike the Ecuador team.
France: Another old country. another country that invented some of the most historically popular drinks known to man. The most unique of them all – to me – is Absinthe. Is it an anise-flavored super boozy beverage, a wormwood infused brain prolapse, or just a regular old spirit teetering on a foundation of hype? Honestly, it is probably a mix of all three. As is the French team – a super boozy, prolapsed anus of hype. But let’s be clear, if you’re looking to Absinthe to drive your mind-altering experiences – that’s weird.
Honduras: This may be the one drink on this list, out of them all, that I really want to try. Guifiti is a bitter that is supposed to be healthy, secretly indigenous to Honduran tribes, and tasty as all get out. It’s made from rum, herbs and roots – herbs and roots that aren’t always legal! In truth, it’s a medicine and is drank primarily for healing effects, but the articles I’ve read make it seem like the most common effect people are looking for is to “feel freaking good, man.”
Switzerland: Chocolate!!!! That stuff is soo good. The Swiss are experts at chocolate, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the drink most unique to them is Kirsch. A clear, colorless fruit brandy traditionally made from double distilling cherries. Probably not a drink you’d want to have straight or often, but if you wanted to throw it in some dark chocolates and then throw those dark chocolates with Kirsch directly into my mouth, that’d be cool.
What’s not cool is how favorable Switzerland’s draw was for both qualifying and the tournament itself. I should go to FIFA headquarters and tell them I think something is up. Just gonna need to figure out what country Zurich is in first…
Argentina: Let’s just get this out of the way. I’m hoping Argentina plays Brazil in the final. I don’t know who I want to win, but if Messi and Co. pull it off, they’d be smart to cap off the victory with some Fernet and cola. There’s no better way to cap off feasting on your arch-rivals tears.
Fernet is another type of bitter, aromatic spirit. It’s made out of a ton of things, include myrrh, which I honestly thought was a made up thing from the Bible. It’s also very versatile. You can have it over ice, in coffee, or with regular club soda like a real OG.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: First timers. Good job you guys! Unfortunately, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel now for drinks, so we’re going to have to use one that isn’t purely unique to B-H. Rakia is considered to be а national drink of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. “Rakija is not a solitary drink, therefore never drink it when alone (it’s considered to be the lowest point one can get to).”
Iran: – Arak is a distilled alcoholic drink with a milky, white hue. It’s super boozy, so amateurs and pros alike always make sure to cut it with water and ice. It’s got a terrible nickname, “the milk of lions.” That’s gross. I love cats, but don’t want any feline related bodily-fluids involved in my life. Regal king of jungle, or not. Apparently, you can make Arak from dates, so that’s cool. I wonder if they drink Arak in Iraq?
Nigeria: I wanted to pick Chapalo, a homemade beer that’s produced by mixing millet with water and then boiling it in earthenware pots. Then it is mixed with yeast at the end of the 2nd day and then left to ferment overnight. Two nights and you can drink it. It must be good.
However, while I was doing some research I found an even cooler Nigerian beer: Guinness! Believe it or not, Nigeria is the largest market for Guinness by sales and the Nigerian version is unlike any other version of Guinness anywhere. They don’t use malted barley because A) it’s expensive and 2) it was banned for a brief time, so dudes had to get creative. Add Nigerian Guinness to your rare beer list if you have one.
Germany: We’re not going to pile on, but the Germans have had quite the troubled past. I’m just glad they remain apologetic for one of the biggest travesties against human-kind; one day we’ll forgive them for creating Jägermeister.
Well, thank god for their beer and the propensity to drink said beer out of boots in some form of “garten”. Truthfully German beer has started to get a bad rap for being overly simple now that American “craft brewers” decided we owe them our constant appreciation. But in reality, german beer styles can really be quite nuanced. Underrated and particularly delicious on draft are the German dark brews (like Dunkels) so that’s what you should drink while routing for the national team to choke under the pressure of facing the USA powerhouse. We’re the best at soccer right?
Ghana: While we could have easily thrown another plum wine in an African country reference at you here, we are committed to bringing you something worth reading until the end. You are still reading this right? Turns out Ghana is basically the Kentucky of Africa as they produce a fermented corn liquor called Asaana which we’re guessing tastes a bit like moonshine which means you probably shouldn’t have huge expectations. But pour some apple juice and cinnamon sticks in that Asaana and now you are on to something!
Portugal: Ask our founder about his experiences with Port. He’s a real expert. And by expert we mean he drank too much at a college graduation party years ago and managed to vomit his entire insides all over his girlfriend’s family home bathroom. He’s a real winner. But don’t let his idiocy stop you from trying some of this Portuguese fortified wine. It can really be quite delicious as an after dinner drink and is best served when someone else pays for it. The fortification happens as the grapes are about half way through fermentation leaving some residual sugar and pushing up the ABV. And if that doesn’t convince you to try it, Ronaldo…
USA: Feels like there is more pressure on us to come up with a great answer for the US national drink than there is on the team itself. No wonder soccer hasn’t taken off as a mainstream sport as much as we’d like here in the states. We’ve been doing it completely wrong. Everyone listen up: set expectations extremely and irrationally high, shake vigorously as the team nears said goal, and then swear off sports when your heart is ripped out over and over again. Then repeat. Sorry, two of us are from Philadelphia. But seriously, it’s time to stop settling on “being there” and we’ve got the solution. We need the 21st Amendment Brew team to come in and give the team their pre-game talk because we’ve already conquered beer! Now it’s time for soccer. USA 3 – Germany 2. You heard it hear first. Oh shit, that’s just one game in the first round? God this soccer stuff is confusing. I’m going to drink a Bitter American.
Algeria: Not a bigger drinking population in this largely Islamic country but they do love their soft drinks. The local choice is Hamoud which sounds friggin’ delicious and comes in a bunch of varieties and colors. I spent 5 minutes trying to come up with something funny or witty here but I’ve got nothing. We never said we were perfect!
Belgium: See the “Netherlands”. Still giving them credit on the Genever (despite the conflicting claims) because I’ve never seen Belgium soccer fans (fake or real) that look like this.
Korea Republic: We’re going with Soju, the liquor of choice throughout Korean mainly because of how terrible their beer sounds. What a great find in my search: “Fiery Food, Boring Beer”. I myself have never had a Korean beer but it is surprising with just how awesome korean food can be. Maybe people just can’t take any more flavor and the shitty beer is in actuality the perfect pairing. Back to Soju for a second, you are going to start to see this stuff on cocktail menus way more often. Most of the brands are lighter in alcohol which make them great additions to a multi-liquor drink and the lightness pairs with citrus like whoa. Get some!
Russia: Vodka. Yeah, but what about… vodka.