I may have mentioned once or twice on this site that I enjoy a good drink every now and then. By 'now and then,' I mean every day. Just being honest. Since I've traveled a lot, I have not only enjoyed the beautiful sites of each place I've been to, but also the good drinks I've had. I enjoy delicious drinks in each place I visit, but I thought it would be good to narrow down my absolute favorites a little bit. I hope that anyone who reads this will be inspired to visit the cities listed, or if you're already planning on going to visit one of these places, now you know what your first drink should be, and some places where you should have it.
I went to Singapore during a long weekend while I was a teacher in Bangkok. Singapore was a destination that I was deliriously excited about visiting. How could such a small country become one of the most important banking capitals in the world and still have an interesting, blended culture? I arrived in Singapore with a list of suggestions from my Thai school boss, Kru Dao; she had been many times and knew all the best neighborhoods to explore. However, she doesn't drink, so I had to figure that part out on my own. This was easily solved for me by my father: when I told him I was going to Singapore, he told me that I must check out the Raffles Hotel, and if I went to check out the bar, he would pay for my drink. Win! Thanks Dad. Now I knew I had to go. While my father has never been to Singapore, he had read about the hotel in several novels. Once I arrived, I was surprised to find out that the Raffles was only a couple of blocks away from where I was staying. That would make the walk back even easier.
The famous bar at the hotel is the Long Bar, the place where the Singapore Sling was invented and where it is socially acceptable to drop peanut shells onto the tables and floor, making it the only place in Singapore where littering is allowed, as far as I know. I ordered the famous Singapore Sling and joined in with the littering.
To be honest, a Singapore Sling is not ever my first choice cocktail, but when in Singapore...It was quite yummy, and the whole experience of being at the retro Long Bar and chucking peanut shells made the drink taste that much better. Unsurprisingly, the Sling was a bit expensive, but if you're ever in Singapore, the Long Bar and the Raffles Hotel in general are worth checking out. Definitely one of the best ways to spend an afternoon.
After my study abroad semester was finished, I decided to go backpacking through Europe. I visited quite a few countries, and for some reason, I was desperate to go to Krakow. I didn't know anyone who had been there, but it just seemed like a lovely European city to visit. I was right. It's a great city, and I tell everyone traveling near there to check it out.
I took a drinking break from my usual orders of wine and beer to try out the finest Polish vodka, beyond Belvedere. I don't drink Vodka very often; I have too many bad experiences from my first year of college to make me still feel ill when I think about them. Wait one moment while I run to the toilet....okay I'm good now.
There were so many different kinds of vodka in Krakow! I had never seen or heard most of the labels before. It was really fun to try them straight, but to sip, not to throw back quickly like the dumb 18 year-old I used to be. One of my favorite vodka's was the Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka, which literally includes a piece of grass in the bottle. It's so unlike any vodka I've ever had before. There were notes of coconut and vanilla. Truly amazing. I also had this other great vodka, but I'm blanking on the name, and it was mixed with apple juice. I was told by many Poles that mixing vodka with apple juice is delicious, and they were right! So next time any of you are having Polish vodka, definitely try mixing it with apple juice.
Budapest is a wonderful city. I knew that I would like it, but I ended up really loving it. It's a city that I'm desperate to get back to one day. Watching the romantic River Danube, checking out the gorgeous Buda Castle, and eating delicious goulash--nothing better.
I spent my few days in this grand city mostly sampling the beer and Tokaj wine. All incredible. My only regret from this trip though was not checking out the Faust Wine Cellar. It's in the Buda district, which is one of the nicest areas in the city. Next time I go, it will be my first stop.
While Salzburg is not known for its drinking insanity, I have a special drinking attachment to this musical city: it was the first time I tried Austrian wine, which is one of my favorite regions of the world. I stopped into a random cafe near where I was staying one afternoon, and ordered a random glass of white wine from the menu. When I finished that one, an older woman who owned the cafe asked me if I had ever had Austrian wine, when I told her I had not, she end up bringing out about five different kinds so I could taste a bunch, each with a healthy amount in the glass. I finished them all while she sat next to me and told me fantastic stories about each one and where they came from. I didn't know as much about wine back then so I didn't understand everything she was saying, nor did I think to take some notes once I left. She only charged me for the two glasses of wine I ordered (yes I ordered a second glass of wine after she had given me a bunch to taste). Easily one of my favorite travel stories.
Berlin is incredible and unique. A city that has seen more change happen to it in the last 50 years than some see in a century makes it a truly unique place to visit. You'll never be bored staring at all the great buildings, new and old. Since the city is now basically two cities put together (former East and West Berlin), it's so spread out that there are endless choices for beer and other fun bars. Maybe even a cabaret.
I stuck with beer during my time in Berlin. Again, I can't remember all the brands I had, unfortunately. I didn't have a smartphone at the time and was not snapping away at everything I consumed. I can safely say though that whatever kind of beer you like or if you want to try something new, you won't be disappointed in Berlin.
5) NEW ZEALAND
Before any of you write to me about this, yes I am aware that New Zealand is a country, not a city. However, because New Zealand is quite small, I decided to condense my NZ drinking experiences into one section. I road tripped through the South and North Islands of New Zealand during my time there, and encountered lots of fun, booze-fueled times.
My favorite part of drinking in New Zealand was the wine country. I only drove through Marlborough, which is the more well-known part of their wine country, but I was living on ramen and crackers at this point, so I didn't have very much money to stop for wine. When I got to Auckland at the end of my trip though, I made sure to save some money so that I could go to Waiheke, a small island about thirty minutes by ferry from Auckland. It's known as the 'Island of Wine.' I ventured out there with no definite plan of which vineyards I would go to, or even how I would get to these vineyards once I got to the island. Great planning, Polly. Really smart. It ended up being okay. Actually, more than okay: it was great! Waiheke has buses that take you around the island, so you can get off at any vineyard that seems appealing to you, which is what I did. I got off at one vineyard, meandered over to another, and feeling pretty intoxicated, hitched a ride back to the ferry. Funny story: while I was waiting for the ferry, I accidentally set off an alarm, but the security guard let me off the hook (I think because he thought of me as a 'dumb American,' which in this instance I was more than happy to embrace) and ended up on the wrong ferry back to Auckland. I was booked with another ferry company, but took a different boat...I snuck off the boat once I reached the mainland and rushed back to my hostel.
New Zealand is fun!
I went to Dublin for a weekend all the way back in 2012. I had a great time. I was even tempted to just leave London and switch over to Dublin for my semester abroad location because I loved it so much. The Irish are known for being big drinkers, and all the rumors are true. They weren't big drinkers in a necessarily obnoxious and gratuitous way, but they do enjoy their Guinness and Jameson. Part of my Dublin drinking experience was touring the Guinness factory with a couple of my London flatmates, which not only offers, but a lovely panoramic view of the city and a free pint of Guinness! Definitely a must, even if you're not a beer drinker. We didn't get a chance to take a tour of the Jameson distillery unfortunately, but we did go on a pub crawl. During the day, we took a walking tour from Sandeman's (really incredibly company by the way. I have done many of their walking tours, and it's always been incredible), and by the end, they offered a pub crawl for a few euros, so we signed up because when in Dublin, you drink in Temple Bar and walk around. We went to many, many bars, and ended our night at a club that was apparently owned by Bono (!!!), and we got in for free so that was a bonus. I'm not sure why I said 'apparently owned,' but it still surprises me so that's why I say 'apparently.'
I love Paris. To me, it is perfection. The first time I visited Paris was the first time I went to Europe, and the first time I left the United States, so it also has a sentimental attachment for me because I consider it to be the spark that lit my eternal travel flame (please excuse the cliched phrasing of that sentence). My lovely Mother took me to Paris when I was 14, and we spent five glorious days eating, shopping, visiting museums, and watching Seinfeld. Ever since then, I've been hooked.
While I have not necessarily had insane nights in Paris where I've been out till all hours, what I love about drinking in Paris is popping into any cafe and ordering a glass of wine, while I people watch or read Woody Allen's books (I always get a Parisian to actually talk to me if I'm reading Woody Allen).
When I was a kid, London was THE city. By that I mean I was desperate to visit. London seemed to pop up in many books, movies, or conversations that were in my life when I was younger. I couldn't even fathom then how amazing drinking in London would be.
Anyway, when I studied abroad in London, I was 20 at the time, so I couldn't legally drink in America, but I was more than old enough in the UK. So amazing for a college student to hear!!! Needless to say, I decided to take full advantage of my drinking legality, before I was actually 21. Pub culture became one of my favorite parts of British culture, and learning more about different types of beer and cider was an added bonus. Easily my favorite pub of all time is the Queen's Arms. Amazing building, and amazing food to enjoy with your booze.
Oh Bangkok. A wild city infamous for ping-pong shows, lady boys, and a thriving sex industry (despite technically being illegal). These were all things that people told me about before I moved to Bangkok for my teaching job. Of course, the people who told me all of this fascinating information were people who had never visited. Once I arrived, no surprise, but I found beneath all the notoriety an amazing city that offers much more than the seedy nightlife that Bangkok is infamous for. Obviously you can find all of those things, but it's not an essential part of the Bangkok experience, as any Thai person will tell you, even the prostitutes.
It's an amazing drinking city though. You can drink outside, which is very refreshing since it's so hot outside. Bangkok is a wonderful socializing city. Meeting random people constantly happens, even when you don't want to. I think why Bangkok will always rank as a great drinking city for me is some of the great bars I went to, my favorite being Tuba in Ekkamai. It's also a furniture store, so you can drink and decorate your home.
And while I say that there is more to Bangkok than just it's depraved reputation, there are fantastic wild nights to be had.
What are some of your favorite drinking cities, readers? What's your favorite drink you've ever had while abroad?