Croatians are casting off a difficult past and embracing a brand new future as one of Europe's hottest tourist destinations. With miles of breathtaking beaches, a shoreline dotted with medieval castles and some of the most welcoming natives around, Croatia lures travelers who are thirsty for a unique spot. Small villages house traditional distilleries, where wine is still pressed by hand, and ancient cities pulse with drink, song and merriment. Behind fortress walls, homemade grappa and maraska flow, street performers sing, and everybody celebrates another glorious night on the shores of the Adriatic Sea in beautiful Croatia.
The Land of the Rising Sun, Japan is a country steeped in tradition and obsessed with modernity. Food and wine are considered high art in Japan, and meals are prepared with a reverence for custom and an utmost attention to detail. The city of Kyoto is, unlike most major Japanese cities, not on the sea. It is also the home to many Buddhist temples, and local cuisine incorporates an amazing variety of vegetables. Sake is Japan's main brew, and Kyoto's Fushimi ward is the second largest area in Japan in terms of sake production. Fushimi is renowned for its pure spring water, which gives its sake a level of distinction that's been appreciated for ages.
The Czech Republic, land of ornate castles and mystical legends, is also the birthplace of Pilsner Beer. Some of the best suds in the world are served up in the traditional beer halls of Prague, the grand and gorgeous capital, alongside hearty slabs of cheese, fatty hunks of meat and dense potato dumplings. In addition to ever-flowing “pivo” (meaning “beer” in Czech), the Czechs also pour a mean glass of absinthe, the infamous wormwood liquor said to induce hallucinations. Every workday in Prague ends with a tall glass of perfectly poured pilsner, drunk in neighborhood pubs and tourist landmarks alike, so kick back, drink up and let it all sink in.
A nation of 7,107 islands straddling the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea, the Philippines is a tropical fusion of native cultures with prevalent Spanish and American influences, along with contributions from China, India and Indonesia. It's a fascinating place, dotted with boisterous, crowded cities, rural seaside villages and active volcanoes. Three centuries of Spanish colonial rule left a lasting imprint on the architecture, food and culture of the Philippines, but native Filipino tradition thrives in locally brewed spirits like Lambanog, a distilled coconut wine made from the sap taken from the flowers of the palm tree. The national delicacy/fabled aphrodisiac, Balut, is fertilized duck embryo, fully developed in the shell, and then steamed, cracked open and consumed. With so many cultures constantly merging, so many cities rapidly changing, and so much natural beauty to behold, The Philippines is an ideal spot for the adventurous traveler.
Venice continues to enchant and mystify the hopeless romantics who seek to discover its cobblestone streets and ancient waterways. The city's bustling canals, traditional gondolas, ornate palazzos and celebrated art are some of Italy's most valued treasures. Food and wine are at the heart of the city's Italian culture, with its historical vineyards and fine traditional Italian eateries. Their Venetian specialty drink, the Bellini, combines the sweet sting of pear puree and the sparkling tang of Prosecco that livens the senses and gives a true taste of the city's history. All these wonderful pieces come together in the grand piazza of St. Marks Square, where natives and visitors can sit back and enjoy leisure at its best.
Located just off the coast of China, Taipei is strongly influenced by Chinese culture while still maintaining its own identity. Taipei is a big city on a small island where busy streets are clogged with thousands of motor scooters, boisterous drinking games and exotic cocktails. Taiwan is at the frontier of architectural modernity. It boasts the world's tallest skyscraper, Taiwan 101, which houses the world's fastest elevator. Despite all of the modern progression, the seaside traditions of island life are still maintained and celebrated every night when locals gather to eat fresh seafood, drink beer and play wild drinking games. The city's famous Snake Alley is home to mysterious concoctions, curious folk cures and bizarre medicinal wonders. It's an experience unlike any other.
As the capital of Bavaria, Munich is home to the world's biggest keg party, the famous Oktoberfest. Every October thousands make the pilgrimage to this holy land of lager to celebrate beer, pretzels, and lederhosen while rocking out to traditional oompah-pah tunes. While Germans love their beer, they also love the fine engineering of the sports car. The high-velocity autobahn is built for the high-performance vehicles such as the BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi, which all have their birthplace in the famous city. Buckle up and pace yourself, because Oktoberfest in Munich can be one hell of a ride.
The sun, the sea and the sizzle of Puerto Rico have been drawing visitors to this Caribbean gem for generations. From the pristine beaches to the old, colonial streets of San Juan, the rum flows freely - in tropical cocktails, potent punch and straight, strong shots. Puerto Rico produces 70% of the world's rum and is naturally the birthplace of the tropics' official drink, la Piña Colada. Puerto Ricans know that the best way to start a rum run is with dense, greasy bar snacks and that best way to burn through it is with lots of salsa dancing. Finish up the day the Puerto Rican way, over a spicy serving of fresh fish stew and an ice cold Medalla, Puerto Rico's favorite beer.
The hectic, vibrant streets of Seoul are teeming with spectacular delicacies and intense intoxicants such as Soju, a tapioca, sweet potatoes and rice based alcohol; the average Korean puts away nearly two bottles of it a day. This strong, clear libation is best served up with the grilled meats and assorted side dishes that comprise the massive Korean barbeque feast. Downtown Seoul welcomes the Soju enthusiast with its strip of outdoor watering holes, where drinking, drinking games and drinking songs are the order of the evening. Seoul dwellers cleanse away the night's excess with a steaming bowl of spicy soup, and you're wise to follow their lead.
From the heart of the Bourbon Belt comes some of America's most beloved brew. Kentucky, the Bluegrass state, is the land of champion thoroughbreds, foot-stomping roots music and hard, strong booze. Bourbon runs deep in this part of the country, where distilleries churn out the amber nectar and locals put it to good use. While names like Jim Beam and Maker's Mark are familiar to all bar patrons, Kentuckians will still pour a glass of "special water" a.k.a. good ole "moonshine" every now and then. Down-home Southern hospitality comes free with every shot.