Drinks to Travel For

By Vanessa Butler

<p>In the immortal words of Jimmy Buffett, “It’s only half past twelve, but I don’t care. It’s five o’clock somewhere.” </p> <br><p></p>

If we could choose to do anything for the rest of our lives, it would be to travel the world, taking in the culture, food and, most importantly, the booze at local watering holes. Yes, we just finished marathoning our PVRed episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s now defunct No Reservations and have been plotting out the next five or so years to ensure that we will have our own travel show.

Unfortunately, like every pizzeria in New York, almost every bar around the world touts itself as the best place to get whatever liquor wets the locals’ whistles, which makes really immersing yourself into a given nation’s drink of choice rather difficult. Fortunately, we’ve found the bars that’ll let you absorb the history, the ambiance, and the very best liquor from around the world.

England – Gin

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Clearly the most notorious drink is not the be-all and end-all of wherever you’re visiting. You wouldn’t go to Canada and assume everyone is glugging down Canadian whiskey; Canadians are probably jammed in some sports bar with a liter of beer and the hockey game on full volume.

Same goes for England; just substitute “hockey” with “football.”

If you’re traveling to England and you really want to enjoy a classic gin & tonic instead of watching a fighting match with an Addicks, there are a few places of note you can stop into, but we really enjoy the City of London Distillery. Patrons can choose between distillery tours of small-batch artisan gin, a class and in-depth tour with the Master Distiller. Or, if you want to go straight for the gin, go to their C.O.L.D. bar which has over 175 gin products on their menu. It would be safe to call the City of London Distillery a certified gin joint.

Lima, Peru – Pisco

Lima has become the secret hipster hangout for South America, and, like our own hipsters, Peru’s younger generation is reinventing the pisco cocktail. You won’t have any trouble finding a pisco sour on the menu. If you want the real deal, head to Brujas De Cachiche, one of the first bars in town to pick up on the trend and reintroduce the grape brandy to their cocktail menu, and they show no signs of stopping. You’ll find new drinks daily on their menu and the bartenders are more than happy to test out your own twist on how this brandy should be served.

France - Champagne

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While we usually steer clear of hotel bars while traveling, in France, the hotel bar is an inevitability. Le Dokhan’s Bar, the City of Light’s first champagne bar, may sound intimidating, however, it is anything but. Run by the best sommeliers in France, Le Dokhan’s Bar selects three champagnes a week to spotlight on their menu and offers more than 60 champagnes by the bottle and five by the glass. They also have a great degustation menu that can be paired with either caviar or chocolate.

Located a mere five minutes away from a postcard-perfect view of the Eiffel Tower, you’re going to want to remember this spot if you’re traveling with a lover.

Tokyo - Japanese Whiskey

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If it’s Japanese whiskey you want, you’ll find your pleasure at the Zoetrope, in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. If you have no knowledge of the liquor, the Zoetrope’s a great starting point, and if you’re an aficionado, this place is heaven on earth.

With over 300 bottles behind the bar ranging from well-known labels like Suntory to single-cask offerings you’ve never even heard of, this dimly-lit little hole-in-the-wall might just be the world’s best location to hunker down for a few hours. Be warned that this isn’t the type of joint where you can talk the barkeep’s ear off; the staff’s more interested in watching the silent film projections on the wall. But if the owner is around, ask to see his replica of Masataka Taketsuru’s diary from Scotland or the functional zoetrope they keep under the bar.

Edinburgh - Scotch Whisky

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While all of Edinburgh is pretty much a fully functional pub, make sure to stumble into the newly opened pub The Black Cat at least once during your trip. Unlike other places on our list, The Black Cat doesn’t really scream whisky bar, but it’s fully stocked with around 200 hand-selected Scottish whiskies as well as some great local brews and ciders. It’s located on Rose Street, which is a pub crawl magnet for tourists, so it may be tricky to land a table. But there’s nothing wrong with a stiff drink at the bar while you wait.


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