Singapore Sling (Singapore & Malaysia) – typically made using gin, cherry liquor, Cointreau, pineapple juice, grenadine, Dom Benedictine and bitters, this cocktail packs and punches and offers a little slice of history. The drink was created in 1915 in Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore; during a time when etiquette would dictate women could not drink alcohol publicly. A barman created this “punch” which was considered fruit juice to any onlooker. Clever and cunning! If you try one then it has to be done in Raffles Hotel, pop it on your to-do list.
Teh Tarik (Malaysia) – the further you make your way around Asia the more you witness and taste the use of condensed milk in many drinks. Those who reserve sweet hot drinks for when they need a sugar fix or a pick-me-up will find this use of condensed milk pretty glucose-coma-inducing. Teh Tarik is the National drink of Malaysia and this black tea and condensed milk drink is sweeter than anything you’ve ever tasted! Seriously! But worth a try once, perhaps when you have a hangover or are craving something sweet. As a recommendation, if you don’t want condensed milk, when ordering tea and coffee across Asia ask specifically for fresh milk to avoid landing up with a cup of sugar.
Lemonade bag (Vietnam & Thailand) – water, lemon and powdered sugar. So lemonade in a bag is a thing in Asia, in fact putting all sorts of soups and drinks in clear plastic bags is generally a thing, a bit of a weird thing when you see it for the first time. This drink is generally quite warm as it is often sold on the street but a bit sweet and sour to-boot so quite refreshing. Street food and drinks are usually a much cheaper option so it won’t set you back too much to give it a try.
Kopi Luwak or Weasel (Vietnam) – basically weasel poo coffee. So if you can imagine it someone somewhere discovered that the coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of a weasel give a richer taste. How they came across this is probably a question to avoid but if you are a coffee connoisseur then you will love the rich, bold taste this coffee can provide. It also is considered quite a delicacy so can sometimes set you back a small amount depending on your exchange rate of £290 per kilo.
Green Tea – so unless you live under a rock you’ve probably tried green tea before. If you like it, great news, they give it to you for free in many places across Asia if you are ordering food. If you haven’t tried green tea, it is a pale green coloured water served hot or cold with a slice of lime (sometimes). It tastes a little like normal tea but with a much more subtle flavour, it is also very good for you and helps your body remove toxins so worth a cup if you are out and about. Won’t cost very much either.
Tra Dao (Vietnam) – otherwise known as Peach Tea, is another on the sweet list! It tastes just like peaches but is very sweet and hot. You can also get pineapple, mango and lime teas, all pretty sweet. Enjoyable but a little sickly eventually, worth getting a small cup.
Rice Wine (Happy Water) – apparently a hardy mosquito repellent a small cup of Happy Water will set you back about 10,000 Dong. If you’ve ever tried Ouzo and liked it you are in for a treat, if you don’t like it then you should definitely give rice wine a try anyway although it may knock your socks off. It tastes a little like Ouzo with the residual heat of whiskey, so if you are feeling a bit cold, it’s a must! Apparently, it can be highly addictive and locals indulge morning, noon and night, so be careful. Once you have one you will probably order another, whilst a somewhat acquired taste it’s pretty nice and has the added incentive of avoiding mosquito bites.
Lime Juice – is one of the most refreshing drinks ever! Like the trusty lemonade but with an extra je ne sais quoi in that it is a little less sweet and has a bit more of a punch. Very worthwhile as an ice-cold day drink or mixer for vodka or the “Happy Water”
Long Island Ice Tea – so everywhere across Asia seems to offer this classic cocktail and it has been my go-to drink in order to get drunk relatively quickly and normally fairly cheaply. Some places mix it up with local versions of the classic alcoholic ingredients so it can be an interesting drink in each place you visit. If you like strong drinks opt for this even though it’s not particularly Asian.