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Drinks from Around the World
Every country has its traditional libations, those time-honored drinks that are not only local favorites, but whose popularity has spread far and wide. Countries with hot climates tend toward cool, light drinks, such as Mexico's aguas frescas ("fresh waters")simple, lightly sweetened potions of fruit and water. And India beats the heat with its refreshing lassis, which can range from savory renditions flavored with spices like cumin and pepper to sweeter, fruit-flavored versions, my favorite being mango lassi. On the flip side of the coin, cold-climate residents need chill-chasers, such as Holland's hot, anise-flavored anus melk, and Russia's spicy, honey-based sbityen. Then there are holiday favorites, like Puerto Rico's coquito, a coconut eggnog. This chapter contains a small sampling of myriad drinks from around the world, some of which may just become favorites in your household.
See also Affogatto, page 153; Arabic Coffee, page 148; Cafe de Olla, page 144; Cafe Shakerato, page 155 Chai Tea, page 161; Glogg, page 215; Gluhwein, page 192; Greek Coffee, page 148; Lamoonada, page 78; Mexican Hot Chocolate, page 188; Mexican Mocha, page 144; Sangria, page 226; Thai Iced Tea, page 177; Turkish Coffee, page 147; Viennese Coffee, page 146.
Agua de Jamaica AH-gwah day hah-MY-kah] (Mexico)
Agua fresca [AH-gwah FRES-kah], "fresh water," is the Spanish term for a refreshing beverage made with water, sugar, and fruit (rind or flesh) or flowers. This rendition uses dried Jamaica flowers (see page 29), which produce a sour-sweet flavor and shimmering crimson color.
2/3 cup loose Jamaica flowers 5 cups (40 oz.) water 1/2 to 1 cup sugar
In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, combine flowers and 11/2 cups of the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Stir in remaining 31/2 cups water. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Strain and serve in tall, ice-filled glasses.
Atole [ah-TOH-leh] (Mexico)
Popular in Mexico and parts of the American Southwest, this beverage is said to date back to pre-Columbian times. It's thickened with masa harina (lime-treated, dried corn kernels ground into flour). Masa harina and Mexican chocolate can be found in Latin markets and many supermarkets. Latin markets sell instant atole, which can be mixed with milk or water. Atole can be served hot or at room temperature. Following are a few of the many atole renditions. See also Tips for Making Hot Drinks, page 184.
Atole de Chocolate (also called Champurrado)
2 cups (16 oz.) chilled water rounded 1/3 cup masa harina 1/2 cinnamon stick 2 cups (16 oz.) whole milk 3 oz. Mexican chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, chopped 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, gradually stir 1 cup of the water into masa harina. Let stand 15 minutes. In a medium, heavy saucepan, bring remaining 1 cup water and cinnamon stick to a boil. Pour masa harina mixture through a fine sieve into boiling water, stirring constantly. Add milk, chocolate, and sugar; stir over medium-low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is creamy and smooth. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Whisk lightly until atole is frothy. Serve immediately in warm mugs, or cool to room temperature, refrigerate, and serve cold in medium glasses. Use a whisk to froth the mixture before serving.
2 cups (16 oz.) chilled water rounded 1/3 cup masa harina 2 cups (16 oz.) whole milk 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, gradually stir 1 cup of the water into masa harina. Let stand 15 minutes. In a medium, heavy saucepan, bring remaining 1 cup water to a boil. Pour masa harina mixture through a fine sieve into boiling water, stirring constantly. Add milk, sugar, and cinnamon; stir over medium-low heat until mixture is creamy and smooth. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Whisk lightly until atole is frothy. Serve hot.
Atole de Pina [ah-TOH-leh day PEE-nyah] (pineapple)
Before beginning recipe, pour an undrained 20-oz. can crushed pineapple in juice into a blender. Process at medium-high until pureed; set aside until ready to use. Substitute pineapple puree for the milk.
Atole de Bayas [ah-TOH-leh day BAH-yahs] (berries)
Before beginning recipe, puree 3 cups hulled strawberries in a blender at medium-high speed. Strain through a fine sieve, if desired; set aside until ready to use. Substitute strawberry puree for the milk; omit cinnamon.
Horchata [hor-CHAH-tah] (Mexico; Spain)
There are myriad variations of these light, thirst-quenching coolers, all made by steeping in water any of various ingredients, such as nuts, grains (rice being the most common), seeds (such as sesame), or chufa, a tuber that can be found in its dried form in Latin markets. Horchatas are typically served cold or at room temperature. Following are three versions.
Horchata de Almendras [hor-CHAH-tah day ahl-MEHN (MAYN)-drahs] (almonds)
1 cup blanched almonds, coarsely ground coarsely grated zest of 1/2 medium lemon, or 1 whole lime 8 cups (64 oz.) water about 1 cup superfine sugar
In a medium bowl, combine almonds, citrus zest, and 3 cups hot water. Cover and let stand at least 6 hours at room temperature. Transfer mixture to a blender; process at medium speed for 1 minute.
Add 2 cups water; blend 20 seconds more at medium speed. Line a medium-large, fine sieve with a triple layer of fine cheesecloth that has been dampened and wrung out. Set cloth-lined sieve over a large pitcher or bowl. Pour mixture through sieve in 3 batches, stirring and pressing to push the liquid through the solids. After all the liquid has passed through, gather the corners of the cloth and twist to extract as much liquid as possible; discard cloth. Add sugar to taste and remaining 3 cups water, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours. Serve in medium, ice-filled glasses.
Horchata de Arroz [ah-RROHS] (rice)
Substitute 1 cup white rice that has been pulverized in the blender for the almonds, omit citrus zest, and add 1 cinnamon stick. Remove cinnamon stick before blending.
Horchata de Ajonjoli [ah-hohn-hoh-LEE] (sesame)
Substitute 2 cups toasted sesame seeds for the almonds (toast seeds in a dry skillet over high heat, stirring often, until golden brown).
* For centuries the pineapple (in the form of carved wood, stone sculptures, and so on) has been used as a symbol of hospitality.
Bebida de Pina [beh-BEE-dah day PEE-nyah] (Spain; Mexico)
Bebida is Spanish for "drink," pina for "pineapple."
3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple packed in juice 1/2 cup (4 oz.) fresh orange juice 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract 4 ice cubes, coarsely crushed mint sprig for garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a blender. Cover and process at high speed until smooth. Pour into a tall glass; garnish with mint sprig.
Anus Melk (Holland)
This warmer is known as "anise milk" in the Netherlands. Toasting the anise seed will intensify the flavor.
1 rounded Tbsp. anise seed, crushed 4 cups (32 oz.) milk 1/2 cup sugar 2 Tbsp. (1 oz.) cornstarch 2 Tbsp. (1 oz.) water
Combine anise seed, milk, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to simmer. Reduce heat to low; cook 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place cornstarch in a small bowl. Gradually add water, stirring until smooth. Stirring constantly, slowly add cornstarch mixture to milk. Simmer, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into warmed mugs. May be served immediately, or cooled to room temperature, refrigerated, and reheated over medium-low heat (don't let it boil) just before serving.
Ayran [EYE-ran] (Turkey)
This refreshing, nonsweetened yogurt drink is popular throughout the Middle East. Ayran is called abdug in Iran and than in Armenia.
2 cups (16 oz.) plain low-fat yogurt 2 cups (16 oz.) ice water salt
Combine yogurt and water in a blender. Cover and process at medium speed until smooth. Salt to taste. Cover and chill well before serving. Serve in tall, ice-filled glasses.
Add 1 small garlic clove, minced (or a pinch of garlic powder), before blending.
Add 1 to 2 tsp. minced fresh mint before blending; garnish each serving with mint sprig.
Fill tall, ice-filled glasses two-thirds full with ayran. Top with chilled seltzer water or club soda; stir gently.
Boisson a la Grenade [bwah-SAWN ah lah greh-NAHD] (North Africa)
This is a perfect quencher for hot summer days. Grenade is French for "pomegranate," from which the original grenadine was made.
3 cups (24 oz.) chilled water 1/2 cup (4 oz.) grenadine 1/2 cup (4 oz.) lemon juice 1 tsp. orange-flower water superfine sugar
In a large pitcher, stir together water, grenadine, lemon juice, and orange-flower water. Add sugar to taste, stirring to dissolve. Pour into tall, ice-filled glasses.
Combine all ingredients except water in a pitcher; mix well. Substitute chilled seltzer water or club soda for the water, slowly pouring into pitcher; stir gently.
Coquito [koh-KEE-toh] (Puerto Rico)
Coconut eggnog is a Puerto Rican Christmas tradition and can be prepared both with and without the addition of rum. Coconut milk is available in regular and low-fat versions in most supermarkets.
2 14-oz. cans low-fat coconut milk 1 12-oz. can sweetened condensed milk 4 egg yolks or 1/3 cup egg substitute 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 2 cups (16 oz.) whole milk
Combine all ingredients except whole milk in a blender. Cover and process at medium-low speed until smooth. Add whole milk; blend at low speed until combined. Cover and chill until very cold, at least 3 hours. Stir well before serving in small glasses without ice; dust servings with additional ground cinnamon, if desired.
Lassi [LAH-see] (India)
India's lassis (yogurt-based smoothies) are not only immensely popular but also thirst-quenching and nutritious. There are three basic styles of lassisweet, salty (savory), and fruit-based. To approximate the extra-rich yogurt found in India, use a combination of whole-milk yogurt and sour cream. Calorie watchers can substitute all low- or nonfat yogurt, but the end result won't taste as authentic or rich.
Plain Sweet Lassi
3 cups (24 oz.) plain or vanilla whole-milk yogurt (or 21/2 cups yogurt plus 1/2 cup sour cream) 1/2 cup (4 oz.) ice water 1/2 cup superfine sugar 1/4 tsp. salt 8 ice cubes, coarsely crushed
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Cover and process at medium-high speed until smooth. Pour into medium glasses; sprinkle lightly with more sugar, if desired.
Serves 4 3 cups (24 oz.) plain or lemon whole-milk yogurt (or 21/2 cups yogurt plus 1/2 cup sour cream) 1/3 cup (scant 3 oz.) ice water 2 Tbsp. (1 oz.) fresh lemon or lime juice 1 tsp. ground cumin 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper (optional) 8 ice cubes, coarsely crushed
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Cover and process at medium-high speed until smooth. Pour into medium glasses; sprinkle lightly with additional cumin.
1/3 cup loosely packed mint leaves 3 cups (24 oz.) plain or vanilla whole-milk yogurt (or 21/2 cups yogurt plus 1/2 cup sour cream) 1/3 cup (scant 3 oz.) ice water 1/2 cup superfine sugar 11/2 tsp. rose water 8 ice cubes, coarsely crushed 4 mint sprigs for garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a blender. Cover and process at medium-high speed until smooth. Pour into medium glasses; garnish with mint sprigs.
Coriander Lassi Substitute fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves for the mint. Garnish with sprigs of coriander.
Although rich milk is traditional for mango lassi, buttermilk or yogurt may be substituted with equally delicious results. If mangoes aren't in season, use mango pulp, available in Indian and Latin markets. For the best results, place both mango and milk in the freezer for 20 minutes before starting this recipe. And for a completely nontraditional but absolutely delicious rendition, try the Tropical Fruit Lassi variation.
1 large mango, peeled and chopped, or 1 cup mango pulp 21/2 cups (20 oz.) icy-cold rich milk, buttermilk, or yogurt 1/4 cup superfine sugar or honey 4 mango slices for garnish (optional)
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a blender. Cover and process at medium-high speed until smooth. Pour into medium glasses; garnish with mango slices, if desired.
Tropical Fruit Lassi
Substitute low-fat coconut milk for the milk, and use any tropical fruit such as mango, papaya, or guava.
Sbityen [ZBEET-yen] (Russia)
Although this honey-based warmer usually contains a jolt of vodka or brandy, it's equally wonderful without it. See also Tips for Making Hot Drinks, page 184.
6 cups (48 oz.) water 2/3 cup (scant 6 oz.) honey 2-inch piece (1/2 inch in diameter) peeled ginger, thinly sliced grated zest of 1 small lemon 1 stick cinnamon, broken in half 10 whole cloves 5 peppercorns 1/2 bay leaf ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve honey. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes. Strain into mugs; sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. May be refrigerated and reheated.
Short for shandygaff, this British drink originated in the middle of the nineteenth century. Use a full-flavored beer, such as O'Doul's Amber.
1 12-oz. bottle chilled nonalcoholic beer 1 12-oz. bottle chilled nonalcoholic ginger beer, ginger ale, or lemonade
One hour before serving, place 2 glass mugs or tall glasses in the freezer to become frosty. Pour half the beer and half the ginger beer, ginger ale, or lemonade into each mug or glass.
* The smell of almonds toasting in a metal pan is the most agreeable incense I know...I am decidedly addicted to their perfume. Bert Greene, American author, journalist, playwright
Sharbat Bil Looz (Morocco)
This almond-milk drink is mildly sweet and exceedingly satisfying. Although classically served chilled, it's immensely soothing when warm. Although not traditional, toasting the almonds adds a rich flavor. For even more almond flavor, add a drop of pure almond extract.
11/2 cups (12 oz.) water 8 oz. slivered almonds, toasted, if desired 1/2 cup superfine sugar 11/2 cups (12 oz.) milk 1 to 2 dashes (1/16 to 1/8 tsp.) orange-flower water or rose water 1 drop pure almond extract (optional)
Combine 1 cup of the water, almonds, and sugar in a blender. Cover and process at medium speed until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 cup water, milk, and orange-flower water; process until combined. Pour through a fine strainer into a pitcher. Taste and add almond extract, if desired. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Pour into small glasses.
Yansoon (Arab countries)
This spicy, warming drink is extremely popular throughout Arab countries. Although it is not traditional to do so, yansoon is also wonderful made with milk. See also Tips for Making Hot Drinks, page 184.
4 cups (32 oz.) water 1-inch piece (1/2 inch in diameter) peeled ginger, thinly sliced 6 whole star anise 5 whole cloves 1 cinnamon stick sugar 2 Tbsp. toasted sliced almonds for garnish 4 cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)
Combine water, ginger, anise, cloves, and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Sweeten to taste with sugar. Strain yansoon into warm mugs. Sprinkle each serving with almonds; garnish with cinnamon stick, if desired.