No matter where you go in the world, you are bound to find alcoholic beverages which are a favorite of the country or region you’re visiting. Granted, in some places, you might not be able to drink openly but you can still count on there being a spirited drink for your pleasure somewhere. If you drink, you should always take the plunge and try the regional favorite! Why? Well, alcohol, just like food, is often a very important part of a country’s culture. Throughout history, alcohol played important roles in shaping us as a human society. When you share a drink with locals as you travel, you are participating in a time-honored tradition that most likely goes back millennia. When I headed to Romania for Experience Bucharest, I soon learned that this incredible country is also pretty fond of its favorite alcoholic beverages.
Let’s me start by saying, Romania is amazing. I explored Bucharest for a period of time and I can say, confidently, that the city is an up and coming tourist destination. It boasts stark communist era architecture juxtaposed against modern and more colonial looking buildings. The people are so friendly and always up for having a conversation or a little drink. The city is filled with green space and there is so much to explore. Bucharest’s atmosphere is relaxed but everyone seems to be doing something and this is a testament to its ongoing revitalization as an important European tourist destination. Within the next few years, you will definitely hear about more and more people there to experience Bucharest on holiday.
But one of my favorite things about Romanians (based on my experience in Bucharest) is their willingness to party. Any moment can be a reason to party and in Bucharest that means drinking and music. I learned that drinking in Romania is often viewed as a very masculine activity. Of course, women drink…but drinking for men is, sort of, a code of manliness. I was told on more than one occasion by the Romanian men I encountered that I should shoot the very hard liquor I was being served because that’s the way men do it. This was always in good fun, of course. But you get the point. Not only that, but there are many moments when drinking is “necessary.” For instance, offering drinks to important guests is pretty much a requirement. If you don’t drink, you won’t be shunned but it can be a bit awkward. Additionally, drinking something before a meal can help you’re appetite and drinking after the meal helps with digestion according to Romanians. Drinking can also be a way to bond with the people you meet. I’m gay but that didn’t seem to matter after I’d sat around chatting or trying traditional Romanian dancing over some good beer.
In Romania, just like many places, there is a plethora of choices when it comes to choosing your poison. So, why choose? Instead, try them all and really experience Bucharest!
With over 30 different kinds of beer to choose from, you’ll have more than enough to quench your thirst and maybe even a little trouble choosing a favorite. Many of the beers in Romania come in really large sizes too! Sometimes the size seems a bit excessive…but who can complain about that? Some of my favorite beers were Ciuc, Busegi, Ursus, and Tuborg. Most Romanian beers are pretty easy to drink. There’s also a growing craft beer scene in Bucharest for you hipster types.
Romania actually produces some pretty tasty wines in the Dobrogea, Murfatlar, Dealul Mare, Târnava, Cotnari, and Recaș regions of the country. But you can try them all in Bucharest. The most extraordinary wine produced in the country is blue. That’s right, a blue Chardonnay is produced in Romania and when you drink it, it’s a bit odd. It tastes pretty fantastic but the blue color sort of throws you off. If blue wine isn’t your thing, then there are a number of red and whites to choose from.
Palincă is distilled from fruits such as apricots, plums, pear, cherries, and apples. It’s very strong spirit and has been produced since the Middle Ages. Palincă is distinguished from Țuică and Rakija in that it is double distilled. It’s served at 18-20 degrees Celsius (64-68 degrees farenheit) because that temperature allows the nuances of the fruit to be tasted. However, it was served pretty cold to me and it was fine. We drank this following a meal to help with digestion.
This is a brandy distilled from fruits. It is colorless unless herbs have been added to it. It is similar to Țuică and the main distinguishing factor is that it can be distilled from any fruit whereas Țuică can only be distilled from plums.
This alcohol, pronounced tsuika, is a traditional Romanian favorite. It’s made only using plums and is, practically speaking, a very strong brandy of sorts. It’s traditionally consumed before a meal. However, in my experience, it was also drunken throughout the meal. In fact, one restaurant I ate at continuously served it in small pitchers. That’s when I learned to cheers in Romanian and realized everyone would drink with me after saying “Noroc” which is the Romanian equivalent of cheers. Most would say it back or they’d say “Sanatate” which means health and then drink. It’s my favorite of all the beverages I tried in Bucharest. I even brought a bottle home!
You can guarantee that most restaurants and homes in Bucharest have their own supply of at least one of the spirits listed here and most likely wine and beer. The spirits are often distilled in people’s homes as a sort of moonshine. In any case, be adventurous and try Romania’s beer, wine, and firewater when you visit Bucharest.
Interested in exploring the city as you explore Bucharest’s booze? Well, check out this post about some tours you should definitely give a try!
When you travel, do you enjoy trying local booze?
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