8 mins

9 alcoholic drinks made from strange ingredients

You'd have to really need a drink to consider knocking back these bizarre brews from around the world

Squirrel Bear (BrewDog)

1. Kumis (or Kymyz), Central Asia

This lightly alcoholic drink of Central Asia contains only 0.7-2.5% alcohol. It's a fermented dairy product made from mare's milk, which has 40% more lactose than cow's milk before the fermentation process. It has been claimed that in Moscow they use it on breakfast cereal.

2. Bakon, USA

Bacon flavoured Vodka. ‘Nuff said.

3. Pulque, Central America

This milky substance is made from the fermented sap of the Maguey plant. Pulque has been consumed since the time of the Aztecs, but fell into decline with the introduction of beer. Time for a comeback?

4. Squirrel Beer, USA

Billed by BrewDog as the “strongest, most expensive and most shocking beer in the world,” this $765/bottle brew is 55% alcohol and comes encased in a taxidermic squirrel repurposed from roadkill.

5. Yogurito, Japan

Drunk straight or mixed with orange or pineapple juice, this tangy, yogurt-based liqueur is especially popular among the health-conscious. But when asked about the calcium content of Yogurito, a Suntory representative remarked, “Yogurito is made from yogurt and tastes like yogurt, but is not yogurt. We cannot say that it’s healthy.” Make of that what you will.

6. Chicha, Peru

Once consumed in Incan ritual sacrifices and festivals, chicha (corn beer) is one of the oldest beverages on earth. And, alarmingly, it's still prepared in the traditional way: women in remote Andean villages chew maize and spit the pulp into earthenware jars of warm water, where it’s left to ferment. Look for houses with a red or white flag hung above the doorway – the sign that a fresh batch of chicha is for sale. And that the lady of the house is a little dry-mouthed.

7. Kvas, Russia

This Russian summertime beverage is made from fermented cubes of stale black bread or rye. Hot water is poured over bread baked into croutons, which are then left to ferment in wooden tubs. Kyas is frequently flavoured with mint, berries, or raisins to hide its disagreeable taste.

8. Cynar, Italy

A series of TV ads in the 1960s touted Cynar’s ability to “fight the stress of modern life”. Today, this medicinal aperitif-digestif from Italy is still promoted for its health-enhancing qualities. Based on artichokes and infused with 13 herbs and plants, “all-natural” Cynar is the V8 of liquors. The tonic is most often sipped up or on the rocks but can also be used in cocktails as a mixer, or added to beer for a bitter kick.

9. Seagull wine, Arctic Circle

Popular with Inuits in desperate need of a drink during those cold Arctic nights, seagull wine is easy to make. Simply stuff a dead seagull into a bottle of water and leave in the sun to ferment. There is no written account of what it tastes like. Inuits find it hard to describe. And no visitor has worked up the courage to try it.

Have you tried an alcoholic beverage made from questionable ingredients in your travels? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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