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A Trip Around The World in 5 Cocktails

Last month I took an online Spanish cooking class. The tortilla espanola and gazpacho turned out decently, but the sangria was awesome. As I sipped that strong, red liquid laced with apples, oranges and lemons, I was transported back to an evening in Madrid devouring paella accompanied by a large picture of sangria. 

So that got me thinking, what other cocktails could I make that would conjure up memories of exotic places I’ve been? The list was long, but I tried to focus on drinks that could be made from what I already had in my liquor cabinet. Fortunately, I’ve always been a cocktail drinker, and my cabinet is pretty well stocked.

Here are the results of my trip around the world in 5 cocktails. And just in case you're looking for some food to accompany your cocktails, be sure to read Cooking Around the World Part One and Part Two.


Trip Around The World In 5 Cocktails--Mojito From Cuba
Mojito making class in Havana, Cuba


Last year I spent a week in Cuba, and every meal (ok, maybe not breakfast) was accompanied by a mojito. In fact there were even a few mojitos between meals. One day while touring Old Havana we had the opportunity to participate in a mojito making class. How many people can say they learned to make mojitos in Havana?

In the U.S. many cocktail menus feature a variety of flavored mojitos, but in Cuba, there is just the original--a drink made with rum, sugar, club soda, mint, and lime. Typically the drink is made with a cheap white rum. However, thanks to one of my travel companions, Fred, we learned that if you asked for a better quality of rum, the taste of the drink definitely improved. This cost a bit more money, but was totally worth it. 

Classic Cuban Mojito

10 fresh mint leaves

½ lime cut into 4 wedges

2 tablespoons sugar (this is the traditional way to make it, but at home I prefer simple syrup)

1 ½ ounces white rum (or something better if you have it)

½ cup club soda

Ice cubes

Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with club soda. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.


Trip Around the World in 5 Cocktails--Aperol Spritz from Italy
Aperol Spritz from Italy

Italy–Aperol Spritz

I love everything Italian, so my trip to Florence last October was one of my all time travel highlights. And how can you be in Italy and not try an Aperol Spritz? I think it’s illegal. I had several during our five days and then came home to buy all the ingredients and make some more. In case you’ve never had one of these glorious drinks it’s made of Aperol--an orange colored, slightly bitter liquor--prosecco, sparkling water and a slice of orange. 

Traditionally this drink is not served with a meal, but is enjoyed on its own in the afternoon, preferably while sitting at an outdoor cafe around a piazza. Since we can’t travel to Italy right now, your patio will do.

Aperol Spritz

3 ounces Aperol

3 ounces Prosecco

1 ounce club soda or sparkling water 

Slice of orange for garnish


Add ice to the glass. Add in Aperol, then the Prosecco and top with the sparkling water. Finally, garnish with the orange. 


Trip Around The World in 5 cocktails--Gin and Tonic from England
Gin and tonic from England

England–Gin and tonic

The first drink that comes to mind when I think of England is beer, hopefully served in a very old pub. And while I was in London last year, I enjoyed plenty of beer. But the next English drink I think of is a gin and tonic. One night we dined at The Ivy before seeing a show and I was so excited by their G&T menu. So many unique options! After leaving London and moving on to Madrid and Berlin I learned that gin is a wildly popular spirit in much of Europe. 

For all of our great cocktails in the U.S., we are not very creative with the G&T. By varying the type of gin as well as the botanicals added, there are many delicious versions. My all time favorite gin is Hendrick’s, and below is a terrific recipe using this brand.

Cucumber-Rosemary Gin and Tonic

1 cucumber

1 lime

3 sprigs rosemary

2 ounces Hendrick’s Gin

4 oz. tonic water (my favorite brand is Fever-Tree)

Peel one half of a cucumber, and slice a lime into eight wedges. In a highball glass, add three slices of peeled cucumber, 1 sprig rosemary, juice from a lime wedge and 1 ounce gin. Muddle with the back of a spoon.

Strain through a mesh strainer into a second highball glass. Add several cubes of ice, and three slices of unpeeled cucumber. Top with remaining gin and tonic, and serve garnished with rosemary sprigs.

Trip Around the world in 5 cocktails--Sangria from Spain
Jessica drinking sangria in Spain


For most travelers, Spain doesn’t evoke quite the same level of passion as Italy does. But after two trips to Spain I’ve definitely fallen in love with this country as well as it’s food and beverages. Don’t even get me started on the joy of tapas. 

While in Barcelona two years ago we took a tapas and wine tour with Devour Tours and it was excellent. Since in person tours aren’t possible right now, they have made virtual tours and cooking classes available instead. I jumped at the chance to learn to make a few food items along with sangria in my home under the guidance of a Spanish tour guide sharing his family’s recipes. Many thanks to the delightful Enrique for sharing this recipe.


1 liter of young (unaged) red wine 

1 liter of homemade lemonade

½ cup of brandy 

One stick of cinnamon (I forgot to purchase this ingredient, but the result was still delicious!)

4-5 whole fruits. Citrus is a must and other good options include apples, pears, and peaches

Ice cubes

Wash all the fruit and cut it up into pieces. Put the pieces of fruit in a jug then add the wine, the lemonade, the Brandy and cinnamon, and let it sit for a while. Add ice cubes if desired.


Trip Around the world in 5 cocktails--Manhattan from the U.S.
Manhattan from the United States

United States–Manhattan

As a kid, anytime we went out to dinner with my Grandma Carlson, she ordered two Manhattans. I was alway impressed by the dark brown liquid in a stylish glass with a cherry languishing at the bottom. After she died I sort of forgot about this cocktail until I was at a restaurant one night and saw it on the menu. I ordered it and was shocked at how strong it was. My petite Grandma clearly wasn’t a light weight. I’ve made it at home many times, and in my mind this is a classic American cocktail. And I love that it brings back memories of Grandma. So I’ll end my trip around the world in 5 cocktails with my personal recipe for a Manhattan.


2 ounces bourbon or rye (I frequently use Bulleit)

1 ounce red vermouth

2 generous dashes Angostura bitters

Maraschino cherries (I really prefer brandied cherries, but they are rather pricey)

Mix all but the cherries in a mixer filled with ice. Shake or stir until well chilled. Strain into a glass and add in the cherry. I prefer my Manhattans on the sweet side, so I’ve been known to add a touch of the liquid from the Maraschino cherry jar.


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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Angela

    A nice selection of some well-loved international cocktails. During lockdown we have been concocting a few of our own – it just has to be done doesn’t it – however for the more traditional flavours I always love a pink Gin and Tonic. There’s nothing quite like it to quench the thirst on a hot summer’s day.

  2. Sue

    You got my taste buds going with that! I was actually drinking (one too many) Aperol Spritz last night. We have finally been allowed to visit friends outside so I went for a picnic in the garden with a friend I haven’t seen in the flesh since March. It was a really wonderful night, boosted by the drinks of course. Then I tried to make a mojito the other day too but it wasn’t very successful & I just ended up with sugar at the bottom. Not quite the same experience as the many I have enjoyed in Cuba through the years!

    1. Wendy

      Nothing wrong with too many Aperol Spritzes!

  3. Jan

    That’s a good choice of 5 cocktails! My preferred one from your selection would be Sangria. It has red wine, lemonade and citrus fruit pieces…..yum! Yes, it would go well with some good Paella. 🙂

  4. Sarah

    Cocktails have been my go to this lockdown. Guess you can take the girl out of England but not the England out of the girl – I do enjoy a good gin and tonic, lol.

  5. Ann

    Oh yes, I love to foodtravel and this is such a great idea!
    We actually did a post on italian cocktais a few weeks ago, check it out!

    And hey, reach out if you want to do a co-lab with maybe drinks, wine or cocktails 🙂

  6. Jay Artale

    Such a grand collection of cocktails. I love a G&T … and our favourite? A Ginny Hendricks, as we call it!! The Gin revolution has taken Britain by storm, will so many local and regional gins available now. We visited a fabulous Gin shop in York, Wall to Wall gin bottles. We ended up buying the York Gin sold in little square bottles. For the US … I’d like to offer my fave, a Cosmo … I loved Sex in the City, and I always think of NY when I drink a Cosmo.

  7. What a great idea for a post. I just loved a good cocktail. Manhattan’s bring back fond memories of my grandparents.

  8. Travel Realizations

    Love this wonderful cocktail of cocktails from around the world! I have fond memories of sipping Sangria sitting in the plazas of Madrid and Barcelona. How I wish to go back once more!

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