The world’s 10 best alcoholic drinks to try on holiday

Jack Maxwell, the star of Travel Channel's Booze Traveler, offers up his top tipples from across the globe

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Actor and adventurer Jack Maxwell (you may recognise him from 24, Lost, Ugly Betty and Beverly Hills 90210) has just bagged the dream job. He’s not only being paid to drink, but he’s also being paid to drink in exotic locations around the world as Travel Channel follows him in Booze Traveler.

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“Traveling around the world has certainly expanded my palate,” says Maxwell, without slurring a word. Here he offers up his top boozy beverages to experience around the world…

10. Pisco Sour, Peru

“It’s such an important drink to Peru that Chileans have got in on the act and claim they discovered it,” says Maxwell. “In Peru the first Saturday of every February is Pisco Sour day. It’s a national holiday. They make a big deal of it, and make the sours with peach, mango and other fruits. It is so good, I could have sat there all night and drank them.” 

9. Sake, Japan

“We went to the Konishi Distillery in Japan, where they have made sake for fifteen generations. Fifteen! They make this sake based on a special recipe. The owners showed me the original recipe book, the pages are falling apart, it’s several hundred years old. We also had a puffer fish sake, containing the poisonous skin of a fish, and a sake that as soon as you pour it out of the bottle it freezes up into a sake slushy. It’s almost like magic. So the Konishi family really know their stuff.”  

8. Dvin, Armenia

“People say this really expensive Armenian brandy is the drink that cemented the Yalta conference between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. It’s rumoured that after the war Stalin sent Churchill 400 bottles of this a year. Other say he sent it to Roosevelt too. Whether the stories are true to history or not I loved it. It was really fantastic, it was such an experience and one of the best single liquors I’ve ever had in my life.”  


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7. Chocolate stout, Belize

“We met this guy in Belize who makes everything chocolate. He picks the cocoa beans from the tree. It surprised me that they are sour and bitter and have a gelatinous outside when you pick them right from the tree. Then he’s roast them and they become kinda like coffee beans. Then when he grinds them up they become cocoa. He adds a little sugar, and then makes a stout. A nice chocolate stout which was one of the best I’ve had. Really wonderful.”  

6. Birkir, Iceland

“This birch water is drained by tap from the tree, basically it kind of tastes like dirty, tree-ish, earthy water. Then it’s boiled down to make Birkir. It’s a very special liqueur that says everything about Iceland. The female version is called Bjork, like the singer. Bjork translates to birch, I don’t think a lot of people know that. It’s a slightly sweeter liqueur, just like females are sweeter than us men.” 

5. Raki, Turkey

“Raki is Turkey’s national drink. They were looking for some kind of pride when Mustafa Ataturk made the nation more western and he loved the Raki. He even made it an honorary cabinet member, he loved it so much. When you combine this clear liquid with water it becomes very cloudy, because the anise oils emulsify in the drink. Turkish people have a great sense of pride when they drink it.” 

3. Whiskey, Japan

“Japan has won the ‘best whiskey in the world’ prize multiple years in a row, which is a bit like a guy from Scotland won best sushi maker or something. It’s just such a strange thing, but they really know what they’re doing. When I had the whiskey there I could see why. It was really wonderful.” 

2. Hot buttered rum, Austria

“This is easily one of the best drinks I ever had. It was nice because it was a little chilly in Austria when we had this drink. It was really wonderful and to top it off it was in a bar called Dean Martin’s, which made me feel at home.” 

1. Genghis Khan Vodka, Mongolia

“Not only is Genghis Khan’s name everywhere in Mongolia, it’s some of the best vodka I’ve ever had too. It’s filtered 50 times. It’s filtered through black pearls and diamonds. It’s married with the water through some Mongolian classical music. They really, really take care with what they’re doing.”

Watch Booze Traveler at 11pm, 4 July, on Travel Channel 


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Go on holiday with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details