Cracking a cold (or a hot) one is a global pleasure. Travel offers new options for quenching your thirst, with a world of flavors rarely found in the U.S. While you might snag a few of these at “international” markets, mostly they’re available in their home countries. Here are some of our favorite drinks you won't find in the U.S.
Italy: Red Bitter Soda
For a country that embraces la dolce vita (the sweet life), Italians love their bitter and complex flavors. SanBitter Red, which is reminiscent of Campari and citrusy, caramel-toned Chinotto are standards. But in Italy, seek out rarer offerings like Stappi Rabarbaro. Tangy and a bit sour, this rhubarb soft drink makes a refreshing aperitif, and a great cocktail mixer.
Argentina: Terma Amargo
People indigenous to the Patagonian region of Argentina have been concocting beverages from local herbs for millennia, and Terma Amargo continues that tradition. This non-carbonated quaff includes juniper, gentian, wildberry, rosemary, and elderflower. Drink it very cold or mix with sparkling water.
Turkey: Uludağ Gazoz
Founded in 1930, this Turkish firm is family-owned and going strong. The little company is now a beverage conglomerate with tons of offerings. Ramadan Sherbet combines pomegranate and apple juices with cinnamon and clove flavors for a delicious drink for quenching post-fasting thirst. Their first (and still extremely popular) soda flavor is Uludağ Gazoz, lightly flavored with lemon and crafted with mineral water from a spring at the base of Mount Uludağ near Bursa.
South Korea: Milkis
Mmmm, nothing like a nice can of carbonated ... milk. Right? Enter Milkis, a fizzy concoction of milk, yogurt, and carbonated water. Seoul residents enjoy the sweet and creamy beverage that comes in 11 flavors including banana, peach, and grape. Drink your milk pop, kids!
It’s not only Koreans who dig their dairy drinks — sparkling yogurt beverages are a whole thing in Iran. Persians love puckeringly sour tastes, and the drink known as doogh is no exception. Curdled milk, fizzy water, maybe a little mint ... let it ferment and you’ve got a drink that’s often called “the Persian Coke.” The most famous brand is Doogh Abe Ali, made from a “magical” spring in the Alborz mountains north of Tehran.
Invented in Georgia and gifted to President Wilson (who brought cases of Coke) at the Yalta Peace talks, Tarkun is wildly popular in Russia and former Soviet satellite states. The tarragon flavor is lightly pronounced, but there are also licorice, celery, and aloe undertones — along with a WHOLE lotta green food coloring.
Ghana: Club Muscatella
In largely Muslim West Africa alcohol is frowned upon, but soft soda drinks are A-OK. Brought out by Accra Brewery, Club Muscatella is slightly fizzy, and saccharin-sweetened with notes of vanilla, maple, and caramel. It’s a delicious accompaniment to traditional Ghanian cuisine like waakye (beans and rice).
Germany: Apple Soda
Light and sweet, apple sodas are popular when Germans seek a break from beer. Rosbacher Apfel-Waldfrucht-Schorle. Say it three times fast. We dare you. This tongue-twisting (unless you’re a native speaker) tipple originated in a mineral springs town near Frankfurt, before being brought back from bankruptcy by another bottling company. Sadly, the waldfrucht (wildfruit) flavor has been discontinued, but the apfelschorle lives on.
India: Thums Up
When the Indian government kicked the Coca-Cola and Pepsi companies out of the country in 1977, the country’s largest soft drink manufacturer filled the void with Thums Up. Now partially owned (again) by Coke, the red and blue bottle is still India’s most popular soft drink. “Masculinely” carbonated and with a tiny bite, the cola is part Classic Coke, with a little Mr. Pibb tang thrown in for good measure.