Around the (Startup) World in 25 Drinks: Part 1

The Web Summit is going on tour this summer. Beginning tomorrow (May 29th) in Gothenburg, we’re travelling across Europe and into Asia to discover the highlights and hidden gems of the startup scenes in 25 cities. We’ll be holding Pub Summits at every stop and making a documentary as we go. To celebrate, here’s part one of our guide to the best drinks to toast the tech scene in each city…

Week 1

Gothenburg, Sweden

Traditionally paired with pickled herring, Akvavit is basically grain or potato vodka flavoured with dill or caraway. Producers add other herbs and spices to create different varieties. Drink it with a nice dark beer and maybe even learn a snapsvisor – a traditional Swedish drinking song.

Stockholm, Sweden

Swedes are serious about their cider. By law, Swedish cider has to have at least 15% juice by volume. If it doesn’t, it ends up tagged with the embarrassing label “beverage of a cider character”. Cider from Sweden tends to be sweeter than varieties from the rest of the world and often comes flavoured with berries or other fruit.

Oulu, Finland

First introduced in 1953, Koskenkorva is produced by the state-owned Alko company (has there ever been a better name for a booze business?). The grain vodka is Finland’s most popular spirit. Though it’s best served cold, you can also drink it mixed with Coke (a Kossukola), carbonated water (a Kossuvissy) or an energy drink (a Kossu Battery).

Helsinki, Finland 

A traditional Finnish beer, flavoured with juniper berries and filtered through juniper twigs, Sahti has a distinctive banana flavour. The fruity taste is thanks to the production of isoamyl acetate by the yeast, the same chemical used in banana sweets. Archeological evidence suggests Sahti has been brewed since the Viking era and it was even the subject of several academic treatises in the 18th Century.

Week 2

Moscow, Russia

Recommending vodka in Russia is a tricky one so we’ve gone for the most appealing pun. Putinka is made by the state-owned Moscow Distillery Crystal company and named in honour of President Vladimir Putin. Since its launch in 2003, it has brought in annual sales of over $500m. A copycat named after Putin’s successor Dmitri Medvedev was distinctly unsuccessful.

Kiev, Ukraine 

Horilka seriously packs a punch at 80 proof. Appropriately, its name is dertived from “hority”, the Ukrainian word for “burning”. Though there are many different types of horilka, the name is usually used by people outside the Ukraine to refer to pertsivka, a version flavoured with peppers and sometimes honey.

Week 3

Istanbul, Turkey 

Anise-flavoured and ferociously strong, raki is Turky’s national drink. While it’s usually made from grapes, you can also find versions that use fig. Though traditionally taken straight, adding water causes raki to turn milky-white and it’s often referred to as lion’s milk (aslan sütü) or “the milk for the strong”. Who doesn’t want to be a lion?  

Tel Aviv, Israel

Go for a…Goldstar
A kosher pale lager, Goldstar has been produced in Israel since 1953. Along with Maccabee, also produced by Tempo Beer Industries, it accounts for 60% of beer sales in the country. It won the a Monde Selection gold medal in 2007 and was named Israeli Product of the Year in 2011.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Get a…whisky
If suggesting the right vodka to choose in Moscow was a minefield, choosing the right dram to enjoy in Edinburgh is even trickier. The first mention of Scotch whisky occurs in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland written in 1475 and by the 1800s there were more than 200 distilleries. The number has declined significantly since then but there’s still hundreds of varieties to choose from.

Athens, Greece 

Ouzo might seem the obvious choice but it’s no longer as popular among Greeks as it once was. At 45% ABV, Tsiporouro is just as strong and just as much of an acquired taste. Made by distilling pomace – the residue of the wine press – it was originally produced by Greek Orthodox Monks. Make sure to avoid the anise-flavoured version – it’s vile.

Disagree with our choices? Let us know on Twitter. And tell us what drinks we should recommend for Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Spain, France and the Netherlands in part 2. Find out more about the Pub Summits and apply for tickets here

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