Pull up a bar stool and let Travel Channel serve up the origins of some well-known liquors, mixers and cocktails from around the world, including vodka, mojitos, sake, Bellinis and Pimm's cup.
According to legend, a monk named Isidore -- from Chudov Monastery inside the Moscow Kremlin -- made the first Russian vodka. Since then, Russian vodka producers like Smirnoff, Stolichnaya and Russian Standard have become popular among vodka connoisseurs. This spirit is traditionally drunk neat, but it is also commonly used in cocktails like the vodka martini, Bloody Mary, Sex on the Beach, Screwdriver and White Russian.
Chile and Peru both claim the Pisco Sour as their national drink, but the cocktail originated in Lima, Peru. American bartender Victor Vaughn Morris invented and then served the first Pisco Sour at the counter of Morris’ Bar in the early 1920s. This concoction is usually made with bourbon or whiskey, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener.
With its origin dating back to the 3rd century, sake is the beverage of choice in Japan. Sake is made from fermented rice. Undiluted, it contains 18 to 20% ABV (alcohol by volume). That’s double the amount of alcohol found in most beer. So sip slowly -- and savor its taste.
Tequila is made from the blue agave plant, located in the city of Tequila, in Jalisco, Mexico. And if you didn’t know already, Mexico has claimed the exclusive international right to the word “tequila,” which allows the country to take legal action against countries who manufacture the distilled blue agave spirits. Mexico’s national drink is the Paloma -- made by mixing tequila with a grapefruit-flavored soda, a lime wedge, and served in a glass rimmed with salt. Tequila is also mixed to make cocktails like the margarita, Tequila Sunrise, Matador and Tequila Slammer.
Wine and absinthe are popular spirits in France, but champagne is, too. The sparkling wine is produced from grapes grown in the country’s Champagne region, which includes Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims and Vallée de la Marne. Since the 17th century, champagne has been associated with luxury and power among royalty throughout Europe. Times have changed and now the tasty beverage is mixed with orange juice to create a mimosa, a tangy breakfast concoction.
In New Orleans, the Hurricane is a popular cocktail, but did you know about the Sazerac -- sometimes referred to as the oldest American cocktail? Mixologists believe this drink originated in the period before the American Civil War. This stiff drink is a mixture of cognac or rye whiskey, absinthe or Herbsaint, sugar and Peychaud’s Bitters.
Puerto Rican bartender Ramon Marrero created and sold the piña colada in 1954, while working at the Caribe Hilton International Hotel. He received numerous accolades, which included receiving an award from Coco Lopez -- the maker of the coconut cream used in the drink -- for selling his 3 millionth cocktail. In 1978, the government declared the piña colada the official drink of Puerto Rico.
Sit back and sip on Brazil’s national drink, the Caipirinha. The sweet, but refreshing cocktail is made with cachaça (sugarcane rum), sugar and lime. Looking for a more fruity taste? Try the caipifruta, made with cachaça, crushed ice and crushed fresh fruit or fruits, including tangerine, lime kiwifruit, passion fruit caju, mango, grapes, lemon, caja and/or pineapple.
Dr. Iain Marshall was the genius and creator behind the Manhattan cocktail first served at a banquet in honor of US presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden in 1870. Usually garnished with a maraschino cherry, the Manhattan is closely related to the Brooklyn cocktail, made using dry vermouth and Maraschino liqueur. A Manhattan is made with sweet vermouth, whiskey and bitters, an alcohol flavored with herbal essences.
A symbol of Greek culture, ouzo is an anise-flavored aperitif usually served with a small plate of appetizers that usually include small fresh fish, fries, olives and feta cheese. This drink is popular in Greece and Cyprus. It evolved from tsipouro, a beverage created by a group of 14th-century monks living in a monastery on Mount Athos.
After a long day at work, slowly sipping from a glass of Scotch whisky seems to make the worries of the world melt away. Scotch is a malt or grain whisky made in Scotland and aged in oak barrels for at least 3 years. Notable Scotch whisky brands include Bell’s, Dewar’s, Johnnie Walker, J&B, Chivas Regal and Cutty Sark.
James Kent was the first to serve Pimm’s Cup, in 1823 at a London oyster bar, making it a popular drink in England, particularly southern England. It is the one of 2 staple drinks at the Wimbledon tennis tournament, Henley Royal Regatta and the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. There are 7 Pimm’s products, but only Cup Nos. 1, 3 and 6 are still available. For a refreshing summer cocktail, we recommend the gin-based Pimm’s Cup No. 1 with chopped fruit and mixed with ginger ale or champagne.
Stop and share a pitcher of sangria with friends if you’re strolling through Barcelona’s Plaza Mayor. This tasty wine punch consists of wine (of course), chopped fruit, a splash of brandy and a sweetener, like honey, sugar, syrup or orange juice. Sangria is popular is Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Argentina.
Historians believe the African slaves who worked in Cuba’s sugarcane fields during the 19th century were instrumental in the mojito’s origin. The traditional Cuban cocktail consists of white rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water and mint. The mojito is not only popular in Cuba but was also author Ernest Hemingway’s favorite cocktail.
In Singapore, Ngiam Tong Boon, a bartender working at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel Singapore, created the Singapore Sling sometime prior to 1915. The original recipe used gin, Cherry Heering, Benedictine and pineapple juice. Decades later, the hotel served the premixed drink from an automatic dispenser, but customers can request a shaken version from the bartender.
Try this delicious cocktail if you’re visiting Italy. The Bellini is one of Italy’s most popular long drinks created by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. The color of the drink reminded the mixologist of the color of a saint’s toga in a painting by the 15th-century artist Giovanni Bellini. So what’s in it? This mixed drink consists of Prosecco sparkling wine and peach puree.
Belgian bartender Gustave Tops created the first Black Russian cocktail in 1949, at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels, in honor of Perle Mesta, who was (at that time) the US ambassador to Luxembourg. This cocktail contains 3 parts vodka and 2 parts coffee liqueur, owing its name to the use of vodka, a traditional Russian spirit.