We all have that dust-covered bottle of mystery booze lingering at the back of a cabinet – the one with the kooky animal shape perhaps, or syrupy day-glo fluid. Most of us tend to dismiss such curiosities out of hand as mere gimmicks (may we suggest a sip of Cinnabon vodka?). Yet there's a big wonderful, or at the very least interesting, world beyond the usual and safe vodka-gin-whiskey-tequila club most of us cling to. Here are a dozen of the most intriguing or exotic concoctions we've seen from across the globe that you can actually buy and try yourself.
What you might call a Russian's daily bread, this low alcohol (one or two percent) refresher has been brewed in some form across Eastern Europe for a millennia and is made typically by fermenting black or rye bread, but also may contain herbs or fruit flavors, anything from raisins to strawberries. After the fall of the Soviet Union kvass started falling in popularity – it had been said that many Russians drank more kvass than water – in the shadow of mighty Coke. A surge in patriotism in recent years though has restored its fortune and it's back on top (naturally Coca Cola now makes its own version of kvass). Ochakovo is the most popular brand, with a bittersweet flavor with malty hints of rye. [$1-$2 for 16 oz.; ochakovo.ru]