Travel

Crazy European Liquors You Absolutely Have to Try

Published On 04/05/2016 Published On 04/05/2016
Boza
Koraysa/Shutterstock

Jägermeister, the original European liquor that took the US by storm and has fueled pretty much every fraternity party since the Freemasons, will always be near and dear to our hearts. Nobody's denying that. But Jäger is also just the tip of the ice luge when it comes to strong (and strange) tipples from across the pond. Here are eight more you'll want to seek out on your next European holiday.

Boza

Bulgaria
Boza only contains 0.5% alcohol, but it still had to be on this list -- after all, it’s considered to be where the word "booze" comes from. Boza is a malt beverage made from fermented wheat, usually enjoyed as part of a hearty breakfast in Bulgaria. For the non-connoisseur, however, it tastes like a sour yeast slop that’s been percolating for days in a bread maker.

Flickr/Paul Downey

Unicum

Hungary
Unicum is often called Hungary’s "National Accelerator" and with good reason. It’s a popular liqueur made from a secret blend of more than 40 herbs and spices. You could say Unicum tastes a lot like Campari, except more medicinal and boozy (after all, it is 40% alcohol). It's often served as an aperitif, or a shot between swigs of Hungarian beer.
 

Țuică

Romania
Țuică is traditional, and not technically illegal, Romanian moonshine that you'll find on sale at markets and served everywhere from weddings to festivals. It's made from nothing but yeast and plums, and a bottle can range from anywhere between 30-60% alcohol -- so go easy on the shots. 

Flickr/Gourmandise

Becherovka

Czech Republic 
If you ever chugged Hot 100 and paid the price for it, Becherovka may stir up traumatic memories. Seventy-six-proof herbal bitters made from a secret recipe, it was originally sold as a digestive and tastes like a more intense cinnamon schnapps. It's served with tonic for what Czechs call a "concrete," but we dare you to drop it in Red Bull.
 

Korn

Germany
Like the American metal band, this 75-proof liquor is difficult to handle in large doses. It's made similarly to vodka, except with less-thorough filtering for a rougher, cereal taste. 

Wikimedia

Honey pepper vodka

Ukraine
Horilka pertsivka, or vodka flavored with honey and red chili peppers, is all the rage in Ukraine right now. And while infused vodka is hardly anything revolutionary, this infusion predates hipsters and their crazy craft cocktails by about a hundred years. It's strong, spicy, and usually served with pickled veggies. Hopefully, in a Bloody Mary. 
 

Koskenkorva Salmiakki

Finland
If you've ever tried salty licorice in Scandinavia or Holland, then you'll know what to expect from Koskenkorva Salmiakki. It's a liqueur made from ammonium chloride (the same ingredient in the candy, which is also in cough syrup!) that tastes tart and -- although at least sweeter than the actual salty licorice -- is reminiscent of childhood influenza. The Finnish order it as a shot or over ice.

Flickr/Garrett Ziegler

Brennivin

Iceland
Also referred to as "Black Death," Brennivin is a 40% schnapps made from potato mash and lots of native Icelandic spices. Traditionally, it's best served with a side of hákarl or rotten shark meat. If you're curious how those flavors blend together, just check out this video of Gordon Ramsay throwing up after trying it.

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Barbara Woolsey is a Berlin-based writer who had a bad experience with moonshine and doesn’t want to talk about it. Follow her adventures around Europe on Facebook and Twitter.

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