You may have had the finest of wines and the best of scotches but you’re still a liquor noob if you haven’t given a shot to the wildly varied tasty and, frankly, intoxicating liquor specific to different parts of the country. Once you’ve tasted at least some of the entries on this list, you’d agree when we say that your Mckallan has got nothing on our local liquor.
Chhaang, often referred to as the Himalayan Beer, is a popular beverage across Ladakh. Home brewed and consumed mostly during local celebrations, bear in mind that it is seldom available over the counter in stores. If you are keen to get your hands on this special Tibetan beverage, make sure you befriend a local. If you’re lucky, you may just be invited to join in on the celebrations as well.
Locals also believe that the beer is so successful in dealing with chilly cold here, that even yeti comes down from the Himalayas to steal Chhaang from their homes. Frankly, given the taste, anybody would want to steal it.
Stay: V Resorts Kanika Leh
Commonly consumed in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Madhya Pradesh, Hadia is a yummy rice beer, minus the froth. It is made by boiling something called ‘ranu tablets’, a mixture of 20-odd spices, with boiled rice and distilling the resultants. Give it a shot, the locals are crazy about it.
Credits- Royal Heritage Liqeur
This is your one shot at drinking like royalty. Kesar kasturi, a staple of the Rajasthani royal families and out-of-reach for the others, is a liquer comprising local wine mixed with 21 outrageously rich herbs and spices, including, as the name suggests, saffron, dried fruits, kevda and even some aphrodisiac herbs.
Since the Royal Kesar Kasturi is mostly a winter drink, it has a summer counterpart in Royal Saunf.
Stay: V Resorts Adhbhut Jaipur
A beer made from rice and sometimes barley, Lugdi is favorite with the locals and tourists in Manali. You must know about it if you have watched ‘Ye Jawani Hai Deewani’. Lugdi and the Ladakhi Chhang are distilled further to make Arak, a potent and tasteful rice liquor.
Credits- The Alternative
Called ‘The Love Potion’ by the Mizoram locals, for obvious reasons, the liquor is said to be the livelihood of about 70-80% of the Mizos. This grape wine is a major hit here, with countless aficionados in Nagaland and Mizoram itself.
Sure to make your bells toll, Kinnauri Ghanti is, as the name suggests, endemic to Kinnaur. Clear like vodka, it is brewed from apples and apricots and has a sweet fragrance of apples.
Where: Chulli – Kinnaur
Credits- Like Your Liquor
The Tom Cruise of Indian liquor, Feni is known to everyone from the hardest of drinkers to the teetotallers. Feni comes in two varieties, Kaju Feni (Cashew Feni) and Coconut Feni, and the cashew one has been granted a Geographical Indication, meaning it can’t be made anywhere in the world except Goa. Consider your Goa trip unfulfilled if you haven’t had a sip of this aromatic and strong liquor (it has anything from 42 to 44% alcohol content).
Stay: V Resorts Arpora Goa
Credits- Review NE
Widely regarded as an Indian alternative to the Japanese Sake, Zutho is a frothy strong beer with a fruity aroma and a sweet-sour taste. It is different from other rice liquor in that it is made from sprouted rice, giving it a rich flavour.
Credits- Mans World India
You may say we have saved the best for the last, and it won’t be entirely untrue. Made from the flowers of the huge Mahua tree, Mahua is a wine that has gained admirers everywhere from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh to West Bengal. Liquor experts (we envy their jobs) have gone on to say that Mahua wine is at par with cognac and bourbon in terms of taste.
Where: West Bengal
Bonus- Old Monk
Kind of synonymous with ‘drinking and India’, this legendary rum has been the unofficial staple of Indian drinkers since 1954. Initally made in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, Old Monk, lovingly called just ‘rum’ by its fans, is now made in Ghaziabad and consumed all over the country.