With the World Cup kicking off soon, the Thinking Drinkers, award-winning alcohol experts and comedians, have delved deep into the drinks cabinet of each participating nation and uncovered the tastiest tipples to enjoy during the tournament.
1st: Russia: Ketel One Vodka
Russians love vodka but we’re not choosing a Russian vodka for the hosts – not given the current political climate. From Salisbury to Syria, the Kremlin has been causing a lot of trouble recently and, quite frankly, we’re not Putin up with it. So, instead, we’re choosing Ketel One from Holland, the first vodka on the team sheet for the world’s best bartenders. Marvellous in a Martini and brilliant in a Bloody Mary – it’s also amazing drunk chilled. Just like the Russians do.
www.masterofmalt.com, £24.13, 40% ABV, 70cl
2nd: Egypt: Hiver Honey Beer
The Egyptians that built the Pyramids were paid in beer – about ten pints of 5% beer a day. That’s the equivalent of drinking ten pints of Stella Artois whilst trying to construct a complex building – may explain why they forgot to put any windows in. The grouting was a bit shabby too. Anyway, back then honey was added into the brew to make it taste nice – so we’ve gone for Hiver, a Salah-vating golden ale fermented using English honey from British beekeepers. It’s the bees’ knees.
Hiverbeers.com; £2, 4.5%, 33cl
3rd:Saudi Arabia: Seedlip “Garden 108 & Tonic”
Saudi Arabia may be drier than a Bedouin’s flip-flop, but it was round here that the code for distillation was first discovered. So, we’ve chosen Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, served with tonic and containing no calories whatsoever! Fill a glass with ice, pour in 50ml of Seedlip Garden, top-up with Fever Tree Indian Tonic and garnish with a handful of peas. That’s right, we’re bringing peas to the Middle East – something that’s eluded politicians for decades. You’re welcome.
www.seedlipdrinks.com £27.99, 0% ABV, 70cl.
4th: Uruguay: Sharps Chalky’s Bite
While most of us prefer some peanuts or pork scratchings if we’re feeling pecking during the football, Uruguay’s most famous player has an infamous appetite for the opposition. With Luis Suarez twice being told off for having a little nibble on defenders, we’ve chosen this beautiful, award-winning Cornish bottle-conditioned beer brewed by the aptly-titled Sharp’s. First brewed in partnership with chef Rick Stein, and named after his dog, the addition of wild Cornish fennel gives the beer some real “bite”.
www.sharpsbrewery.co.uk/shop £2.42, 6.8%, 330ml.
1st:Portugal: Cockburns Fine White Port & Tonic
As unexpected as Portugal winning the European Championships in 2016, white Port and Tonic is set to become the coolest drink of this Summer. Hailed by hipsters last year, it’s now time for normal people, who wouldn’t dream of wearing leather loafers with no socks, to enjoy it – preferably poured over ice and topped up with Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water and a sprig of fresh mint. Really refreshing with the kind of crisp finish Cristiano Ronaldo would be proud of.
sainsburys.co.uk 19%abv, £12.75, 50cl
2nd: Spain: Ceriux
Inspired by the squad’s balanced blend of youth and experience, physicality and finesse, we’ve gone for a golden craft ale that combines both the grape and the grain. After being brewed and matured for more than a month, Tempranillo grape musts are added for a second fermentation to create a golden ale that drops down easier than a donkey that’s been pushed needlessly from the top of a clocktower.
thepipstop.co.uk, 5.4%abv, £2.99, 375ml
3rd Morocco: Red Snapper with Opihr Oriental Spiced London Dry Gin
Rather than choosing Casablanca, a Moroccan lager, we’ve been inspired by the classic film of the same name containing Humphrey Bogart’s iconic line being “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” This spicy gin, distilled in Warrington, contains Moroccan coriander and makes a lovely Red Snapper (a Bloody Mary but with gin replacing vodka). Red in colour with a green celery garnish, it also resembles the Moroccan flag. Yes, that just happened.
www.sainsburys.co.uk; £24, 40%ABV, 70cl
4th Iran: Big Drop Stout
While it’s not the easiest place to get a pint these days, historians reckon Iran may have been where humans first scribbled down the formula for brewing – widely considered the oldest recipe in the world. But as Iranians don’t really drink, we’ve gone for the finest (almost) non-alcoholic beer we’ve ever drunk – a silky stout brewed using cocoa nibs and chocolate-y malts.
www.beerhawk.com, £1.89, 0.5%, 33cl
1st Australia: Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin & Tonic
The “Socceroos” are going to have to do more than surreptitiously sandpaper the ball to be in with a chance of lifting the World Cup trophy in July. But we’re delighted they’ve qualified as it means we can enjoy this truly awesome gin, distilled in the Yarra Yarra Valley using whole fresh oranges, Tasmanian pepperberry and Austrian lemon myrtle. Serve long over ice with tonic water and a slice of orange to garnish.
www.masterofmalt.com £36.95, 40%, 70cl
France: Martell VS 2nd
Listen very carefully, because we will say this only once. France will win the World Cup. Or, at the very least, they will come very close. Despite drawing against Luxembourg recently, technically they are tres bon (very good), they’ve got a magnifique (magnificent) midfield with Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante and, as anyone who has been stranded at Charles de Gaule airport due to industrial action will tell you, they’ve got some superbe (superb) strikers too. While other teams park a mere bus in goal, France prefer to use Lorris. In short, “Les Bleus” are a bit special – which is why we’re drinking Martell VS (meaning Very Special), an intense cognac sourced from one single distillery. Pour over ice and sip slowly alongside some ponky blue cheese. Delicieux (Delicious).
www.waitrosecellar.com; 40%ABV; 70cl; £22.00
3rd Peru: “Marmalade Mule” with Chase Marmalade Vodka
Peru last qualified for a World Cup Finals back in 1982 – a 36 year wait certainly represents a big pause. Talking of big paws, Peru’s most famous export is, of course, Paddington Bear whose love of marmalade has inspired this cracking cocktail. Take 50ml of Chase Marmalade Vodka, (crafted in Herefordshire using orange peel from Seville and Valencia), pour it into a highball glass filled with ice, add 15ml of freshly squeezed lime juice, two dashes of Angostura bitters and top-up with Ginger beer.
www.waitrose.com 40%abv, £40, 70cl
4th Denmark: Mikkeller “Finger In the Soil” Pale Ale
When we were growing-up, the greatest Dane as far as we were concerned was Scooby-Doo -but on the footy pitch, it was the dribbling siblings Michael Laudrup and his brother Brian. Danish brewing is also dominated by two brothers, the Jarnit-Bjergso twins Jeppe & Mikel who are separately making some of the world’s most creative beers. This pale ale, made by Mikkel, is balanced and a little hoppy – just like Christian Eriksen after he’s been given a kick on the shins.
www.beerhawk.com £tbc 4.6abv, 33cl,
1st: Iceland: Einstock White Ale
What better way to watch the Vikings pillage opposition defences than with this balanced Belgian-style witbier? It’s brewed just 40miles south of the Arctic circle using orange peel, coriander and water that has percolated through lava fields and glaciers. It also comes in a brilliant can with a picture of a Viking on it. Vikings believed that Valhalla, Viking heaven, had a giant goat whose udders dispensed an endless supply of beer. This is highly unlikely. Silly Billys.
www.waitrose.com; £2.09, 5.2%, 33cl
2nd: Argentina: Quilmes
Having creaked through qualifying with a number of rather wooden performances, we were going to go for a big oaky Malbec for Argentina. But then we looked at the strength, around 14%, and realised things could get a bit Messi. So, instead, we’ll be drinking Quilmes, a quenching lager brewed using Patagonian hops, malted barley grown in the Pampas and pure water from the Andes which, as Peter Shilton no doubt recalls, are at the end of Maradonna’s armees.
www.Noblegreenwines.co.uk 4.9%, £1.90, 33cl
3rd: Croatia: Garden Pilsner
Dressed like a load of gingham tablecloths and having been beaten by Iceland during qualification (really who loses to Iceland? Eh? Oh), it’s easy to see why Croatia are not being talked up as serious contenders. Still, let’s hope they make it out of the group stages so we can keep drinking this quality crisp craft Pilsner brewed in Zagreb and squeezed into cool looking cans that chill quicker.
www.beersofeurope.co.uk; 4.5%, 33cl, £2.39
4th Nigeria: Guinness Nigerian Foreign Extra Stout
Strong and strapping like the Super Eagles’ sturdy defence and slicker than their rampaging wingbacks, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (FES) is a bigger, bolder version of the Irish beer that, according to a 1960s advertising campaign, “Gave You Power”. Brewed in Nigeria using sorghum and maize, it uses lots of hops and is slightly sweeter than the Guinness FES made in Dublin. Think liquorice, black cherry and dark chocolate. Best drunk with oysters. Seriously. Shuck it and see.
tesco.com £1.72, 7.5%, 32.5cl
1st Serbia: Jameson Irish Whiskey & Ginger Ale
“In small quantities, alcohol proves a beneficial stimulant to thought, speech and physical exertion” said Nicola Tesla, history’s most famous Serb, and a whisky loving boffin who invented alternative current electricity, X-ray, the radio and the laser. As the Serbs topped their group ahead of the Republic of Ireland, we’ve chosen Jameson Irish Whiskey – stir 50ml of Jameson into a glass full of ice, top up with Schweppes Ginger Ale, take a large wedge of lime, give it a squeeze and drop it into the glass.
31dover.com; £21.95; 40%, 70cl;
2nd: Costa Rica: Lagunitas Brewing Company “12th of Never” Pale Ale
Costa Rica were the surprise package during the last World Cup in Brazil, reaching the last 16 and only going out to the Dutch on penalties. They cruised through qualifying and should really reach the knock-out phases. Since mangoes, papayas, pineapples, melons, and bananas are Costa Rica’s main exports treat your tastebuds to this knockout tropical pale ale brewed with flaked wheat and aromatic hops in North California, not far from where star striker Marco Ureña plays for Los Angeles.
groceries.morrisons.com; £1.98, 5.5%, 33cl
3rd: Brazil: Abelha Silver Cachaca “Caipirinha”
During the last World Cup, Germany tore strips off the Brazilians like a sadistic beauty therapist in a bikini waxing salon – beating them 7-1 in their own backyard. But Brazil are much improved and many expect them to rise to the occasion in Russia and make it past the semi-stage– just like Pele after he’s taken one of his little blue pills. And there’s only one Brazilian drink to enjoy when they do: The Caipirinha – crush a lime in a sturdy rocks glass, getting all the oils and juice out, pour in 60ml of Abelha Silver Cachaca along with 15ml of sugar syrup, top up with crushed ice and give it a stir. Drunk using an eco-friendly straw.
whiskyexchange.com; £25, 39%ABV, 70cl
4th Switzerland: Absinthe Suisesse
Not content with pen-knives and cheese with holes in, Switzerland is also the birthplace of Absinthe, the wild “Green Fairy” liquid famously drunk by Vincent van Gogh. Serve it in this classic 19th century cocktail by putting 50ml Pernod Absinthe into a shaker along with 25ml Pernod, 20ml of orgeat (almond syrup), 30ml white crème de menthe, 1 fresh egg white, 15ml milk and 15ml cream with lots of ice. Shake until a frost forms on the outside of the shaker. Strain into a chilled wine glass.
masterofmalt.com; 68%abv, £41.63, 70cl.
1st Mexico: Ocho Tequila
Dark horse or simply a bow-legged burro? Despite a huge population and hosting the tournament twice, Mexico have never progressed beyond the quarter-finals. But with many of their players reaching their peak in terms of experience, we’re predicting progression beyond the last eight with Ocho (meaning eight) Tequila, an elegant, artisan tequila made using agave plants harvested by hand and baked in traditional steam-heated brick ovens. Sip it sensibly.
www.Masterofmalt.com, 40%abv, £21.88, 50cl
2nd Germany: Hacker Pschorr Anno 1417 Munich Keller Bier
The Germans are back – and they’re looking even better than they normally do – having qualified with a Teutonically efficient ten out of ten victories and winning the Confederations Cup without 11star players. It’s annoying but at least they make some lovely lagers – especially this amazing unfiltered cloudy golden ‘cellar’ beer from Munich, bottled with the yeast left in, just like they used to do in the 1800s. Drink it with some enormous German sausages. What’s the wurst that can happen?
Beermerchants.com, 5.5%, £2.95, 50cl
3rd South Korea: Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum
The South Koreans do have the world’s largest selling spirit in soju, but frankly folks, we don’t like it that much. So instead, to celebrate the recent peace talks between South Korea’s leader Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un (a big Rum drinker), in which they vowed to end Nuclear conflict, we’re raising a glass to Korean conciliation with Diplomatico Rum, a delicious dark rum from Venezuela full of rich caramel, vanilla and chocolate flavours. Serve neat over ice.
whiskyexchange.com; £37.95, 40% ABV, 40cl
4th Sweden: Pang Pang Shower Beer
Qualifying from a group containing Holland and France, and then pulling off an improbable two-legged victory against Italy, the Swedes’ path to Russia has been trickier than putting together a chest of drawers from IKEA. Just as our attempts at flatpack furniture work up a sweat, so too will Janne Andersson’s hard-working, disciplined team – but they wash it off while enjoying this Swedish beer designed specifically for drinking in the shower. Coming in a small 18cl bottle, this 10% pale ale brewed with Citra hops also doubles up as a conditioner. And you can probably wash your bits with it as well.
mitchellswine.co.uk, 10%, £3.75, 18cl
1st England: Hobo Three Hopped Lager
Let’s face it, the best way to watch England play football is with a cold lager in your hand. Rather than Kane-ing cases of Dier cooking lager, though, enlighten your laughing gear with Hobo Three Hopped Lager, a proper lager that we brew the correct way. It’s made using a trio of hops (one for each lion), matured for three weeks (if England last that long, we’ll be happy) at the Hogsback Brewery down in Surrey and, in a weird twist of fate, its strength of 4.666% conjures up memories of 1966. What’s more, the ‘cross’ image on the can, meaning “Good Place to Hangout” in Hobo language, is also the same symbol used for “Miss” in a penalty shoot-out – something that manager Gareth Southgate will no doubt appreciate.
whiskyexchange.com £1.95, 4.666%, 33cl
2nd Belgium: Taras Boulba Pale Ale
In the 1962 World Cup, Chilean players thought it would increase their chances of beating Russia if they drank Smirnoff vodka. It worked, they won 2-1. During the group stages, they employed similar tactics, beating Switzerland and Italy after eating pre-match meals of cheese and spaghetti respectively. So to clinch top-spot in Group F by beating Belgium, England fans need to selflessly stuff their faces with chocolate, waffles, chips smeared in mayonnaise and, obviously, Belgian beer. As it can be pretty potent stuff, we’re going for this ‘pacer’ pale ale from the Brussels-based De La Senne brewery which, at 4.5%, is as perfectly weighted as a Kevin De Bruyne through-ball.
Beermerchants.com; £2.15, 4.5%, 33cl.
3rd Panama: A Cana Brava “Daiquiri”
Lots of things one associates with Panama aren’t from Panama at all. Hats? From Ecuador. Slim Panatela cigars? Made in Europe. The 1984 hit from big-haired American hard rockers Van Halen? It’s about a fast car, nothing whatsoever to do with Panama. However, Panama does make some delicious rums – especially this sweet citrusy blanco aged in virgin American oak for two years before being finished in American whiskey casks. Delicious in a classic Daiquiri – shake 60ml with 20ml fresh lime juice, 10ml sugar syrup and ice. Pour into a cocktail coupe.
MasterofMalt.com; £26.11, 43%, 70cl
4th Tunisia: Magon AOC Blanc Mornag
Even with the loss of their star player Youssef Msakni to a nasty case of knee-knack, they’re a tricky outfit on their day having successfully seeded in French-born players during qualification.
Tunisian wine is equally misjudged – they’ve been making the stuff for more than 2000 years and production peaked when the cravat-wearing, cheese-munching, cork-sniffing French came along in 1881 and planted lots of vineyards. This fruity fellow, much like its football team, could well prove doubters wrong.
cannoncellars.co.uk, 14%abv, £7.14, 75cl
1st Japan: A “Mizuwari” with Nikka From the Barrel
Don’t let the Scots hear you say it but Japan is making some of the world’s best blended whiskies. This complex coming together of Miyagikyo and Yoichi single malts is 51.4%, so is best stirred slowly with ice and water to make a Mizuwari, a classic refreshing Japanese drink that is widely sipped with sushi. Just perfect after a long day Feng shui-ing your furniture about so the sun doesn’t shine on the TV screen.
whiskyexchange.com; 51.4%, £38.95, 50cl,
2nd: Poland: A “Tatanka” with Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
On paper, Poland have a squad good enough to top the group but, as Brian Clough famously said, football’s not played on paper – it’s played on grass. Which bring us onto Zubrowka, an iconic rye grain vodka that is famously bottled with a blade of bison grass inside. You can drink it neat but Poles most commonly drink with apple juice over ice in a Tatanka, the native American word for Bison. Interestingly, the American Bison and the Buffalo are the same animal – the only difference between them is that you can’t wash your hands in a buffalo. Sorry.
Uvinum.co.uk; £13.95, 40%, 1litre
3rd Colombia: Chiltern Brewery Dark Coffee Imperial Stout
In Brazil 2014, Colombia reached the quarter-finals but this time round a stuttering qualification means hopes, unlike Carlos Valderama’s famously massive hair, aren’t high. Still, a small brewery in Buckinghamshire will be hoping they make it beyond the group stages as we’ve chosen this Dark Coffee Imperial Stout brewed with the finest Colombian single estate roasted coffee beans alongside roasted barley and chocolate malts. Darker than a gravedigger’s soul with notes of rich espresso, mocha and vanilla, this is the beer style British brewers used to send to Russia in the 18th century.
www.chilternbrewery.co.uk; £5.17, 7%, 33cl
4th Senegal: Negroni
A mass debate rages among drinks boffins as to who first invented the Negroni, the classic Italian aperitivo cocktail. Some say it was Count Camillo Negroni who first ordered it at the Casoni bar in Florence but we prefer the tale of General Pascal Oliver Comte de Negroni, who invented it in Senegal to cure his wife’s dicky tummy – she was like bats out of a clocktower apparently. Anyway, you can’t beat this bottled version from legendary bartender Tony Conigliaro, a traditional blend of London dry gin, Italian vermouth and Italian bitters.
drinkshop.co.uk £35.75, 70cl, 18.5%
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin vs Quilmes
The Argentinian lager doesn’t quite have the strength in depth to deal with this delicious drop from “Down Under”.
Ketel One Vodka vs Ceriux
The Spanish beer made with grape must is dispatched by the delectable Dutch vodka representing Russia
Jameson Irish Whiskey & Ginger Ale vs Hacker Pschorr Anno 1417 Munich Keller Bier
The whiskey-fuelled Serbs run out of power against the might of Die Mannschaft and the Germans go through
Tatanka vs Hobo Three Hopped Lager
The session-friendly lager from Surrey locks horns with the Bison and comes out victorious
Cockburn’s Fine White Port & Tonic vs Hiver Honey Beer
Easy-peasy Portuguese-ee as the refreshing long drink edges it over the ‘Egyptian’ honey beer from South London.
Einstock White Ale v Martell VS Cognac
Brandy bling beats ale-swigging Viking ale as the French outsmart Iceland to reach the quarter-finals
Ocho Tequila v Lagunitas “12th of Never” Pale Ale
The Mexican Tequila isn’t shot shy but this quaffable canned Californian pale ale hits the target every time.
A “Mizuwari” with Nikka From the Barrel v Taras Boulba Pale Ale
Turns out, the Belgians crumble under Japan’s highball tactics and the whisky wins out.
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin V Ketel One Vodka
After a spirited clash between two mighty Martinis, the citrusy Australian gin defeats the courageous Dutch vodka with a last-minute winner,
Hobo Three Hopped Lager vs Hacker Pschorr Anno 1417 Munich Keller Bier
Battle of the beers! Germany may be lager’s spiritual home but it can’t compete with Hobo’s interplay of aromatic English hops.
Cockburn’s Fine White Port v Martell VS Cognac
Two grape-based giggle juices go head-to-head but the French run out winners after the Port, a stickler for tradition, insists on always passing it to the left – terrible tactics.
Lagunitas “12th of Never” Pale Ale V A “Mizuwari” with Nikka From the Barrel
Buoyed by the use of English flaked wheat in the mash, the Californian pale ale crushes the award-winning whisky.
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin v Hobo Three Hopped Lager
A phenomenal effort from the flavoursome Four Pillars Gin but hampered by wearing flip-flops and constant interfering with their balls, England gain revenge for the Ashes and reach the Final.
Martell VS Cognac v Lagunitas “12th of Never” Pale Ale
In a stirring semi-final, the awesome fruity American pale ale is overpowered by the oak-aged French eaux-de-vie.
Hobo Three Hopped Lager v Martell VS Cognac
A fiercely contested final goes down to the wire but due mainly to its significant superiority as an accompaniment to salty snacks – the Three Lions triumph over France’s strutting cockerels and England lift the World Cup!