25 British Drinks To Try When Visiting Britain
The United Kingdom, steeped in history and culture, offers a plethora of experiences to its visitors. Among these experiences is a delightful journey through the nation’s beverages. From age-old recipes to contemporary cocktails, Britain’s drinks scene is as diverse as its landscape. Let’s take a sip and journey through 25 must-try British drinks.
- English Breakfast Tea:
This robust blend of black tea is a staple in every British household. Served with a splash of milk, it’s the ideal drink to start the day.
- Earl Grey Tea:
Distinctive and aromatic, this tea is flavoured with bergamot oil, offering a fragrant twist to your regular cuppa.
A quintessential summer drink, Pimm’s is a fruity cocktail with a base of Pimm’s No.1, mixed with lemonade, fruits, and mint.
A type of ale that’s smooth and malty. Its name comes from its slightly bitter flavour, differentiating it from other ales.
Popular especially in the West Country, British cider, made from fermented apple juice, is a refreshing alcoholic drink enjoyed chilled.
- Scotch Whisky:
Originating from Scotland, this distilled alcoholic beverage is made primarily from malted barley. Each region in Scotland offers a unique flavour profile.
Britain has seen a gin renaissance, with many artisanal distilleries popping up. Try a classic British gin and tonic with a slice of cucumber or lemon.
- Blackcurrant Cordial (Ribena):
A sweet and fruity non-alcoholic drink, Ribena is loved by kids and adults alike.
- Barley Water:
A traditional British soft drink made from water that has been boiled with barley, often flavoured with lemon or orange.
- Ginger Beer:
Fizzy and spicy, ginger beer can be enjoyed on its own or used as a mixer in cocktails, like the Moscow Mule.
Scotland’s favourite soft drink, this orange-coloured beverage has a unique fruity flavour that’s hard to describe but worth a try.
- Stout (e.g., Guinness):
This dark, rich beer originated in Ireland but is incredibly popular across the UK.
- Cream Tea:
While technically not a ‘drink’, no visit to Britain is complete without a traditional cream tea: scones with clotted cream and jam, accompanied by tea.
This fortified wine, often enjoyed as a dessert wine, has been popular in Britain since the 1700s.
Similar to cider, but made from pears. It’s light, refreshing, and perfect for a summer day.
- Real Ale:
Brewed using traditional methods, real ales are carbonated naturally in the bottle or cask, resulting in a rich flavour.
- Lapsang Souchong Tea:
A black tea originating from China but popular in the UK, it’s known for its smoky aroma and flavour.
- Hot Toddy:
A warm, soothing drink made with whisky, honey, hot water, and lemon. It’s especially popular in colder months or for those with a cold.
- Elderflower Cordial:
A sweet, non-alcoholic syrup made from the flowers of the elder tree. It’s mixed with water or soda for a fragrant drink.
- Dandelion and Burdock:
A traditional British soft drink made from fermented dandelion and burdock roots, it has an earthy, sweet taste.
- English Sparkling Wine:
The UK’s answer to Champagne, English sparkling wine, particularly from regions like Kent and Sussex, has gained international acclaim.
- Sloe Gin:
A type of gin made from sloe berries, it has a fruity, almond-like taste and is often sipped in the winter.
A mix of beer and lemonade or ginger ale, this drink is light on alcohol and perfect for a sunny afternoon.
- Clotted Cream Liqueur:
Originating from the West Country, this creamy liqueur is a blend of spirits and clotted cream, offering a rich and decadent flavour.
An ancient drink made from fermented honey and water, mead has seen a revival in recent years, with many artisanal producers adding their twist to this historic beverage.
From the humble tea to exquisite wines and ales, Britain’s drink repertoire is a testament to its rich cultural tapestry and evolving tastes. Each drink tells a story, be it of ancient traditions, colonial influences, or modern innovations. When you visit Britain, be sure to indulge in these beverages, allowing your palate to journey through the country’s history and heritage. Cheers!
Beyond the general favorites, diving into the regional specialties can add depth to your British beverage journey:
- Whisky from Islay:
One of Scotland’s whisky-producing regions, Islay is known for its peaty, smoky whiskies with a distinctive sea-salty tang, owing to its island location.
- Newcastle Brown Ale:
Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne, this is a popular and iconic British ale with a slightly nutty taste.
- Somerset Cider Brandy:
A potent drink distilled from cider in the county of Somerset, it’s an apple brandy with a rich history.
- Welsh Brew Tea:
While Wales doesn’t grow tea, Welsh Brew Tea is blended specifically to suit the soft waters of Wales, offering a unique flavour.
- Cornish Mead Wine:
This honey-based drink has a lighter taste than traditional meads, infused with various flavors like blackcurrant, ginger, or even chilli!
- Manx Spirit:
Distilled in the Isle of Man, it’s an intriguing whisky that is redistilled from blended Scotch whiskies.
- Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer:
Originating in Scotland, this alcoholic version of ginger beer is a spicy, sweet delight.
- Bramble Whisky:
Found in Scotland, it’s a concoction of whisky infused with the fresh blackberries of the region.
- Yorkshire Tea:
Blended to suit the water of Yorkshire, this strong tea has garnered fans across the globe.
- Samphire Gin:
Reflecting the coastal character of the Isle of Skye, this gin incorporates a unique ingredient – samphire, giving it a distinct maritime flavor.
Exploring the Modern Drinks Scene:
Britain’s beverage culture isn’t just rooted in tradition; the contemporary drinks scene is burgeoning with innovative concoctions and experimental breweries.
- Craft Beers:
Small-scale breweries have sprung up across the UK, each bringing a unique twist to the age-old beer brewing tradition.
- Artisanal Gins:
With the gin boom, several distilleries are experimenting with botanicals, producing gins with flavors ranging from seaweed to rose petals.
- Cold Brew Teas:
A nod to the global cold brew trend, cold brew teas offer a refreshing twist on Britain’s most beloved drink.
- Nitro Coffee:
Taking a page from the craft beer movement, nitro coffee is cold-brewed coffee infused with nitrogen, giving it a creamy texture without any dairy.
- Vegan Cream Liqueurs:
Responding to the vegan movement, several British producers are now offering dairy-free versions of creamy liqueurs.
Britain’s beverage landscape is a fusion of the old and the new, the traditional and the contemporary. From age-old recipes passed down generations to modern interpretations of classics, the drinks scene reflects Britain’s evolving identity in a globalized world. As you stroll through its historic streets, rest in its cozy pubs, or dine in its avant-garde restaurants, make it a point to sample these beverages. Each drink not only quenches your thirst but also offers a taste of Britain’s rich tapestry of cultures, traditions, and innovations. So, raise your glass and toast to the enduring spirit of Britain!