Traditional Russian Drinks: Alcoholic & Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic & Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Try in Russia

Russian Drinks

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Last updated:
22.09.2020

It’s time to deny a myth that Russians drink a lot of vodka! Try to guess what are some of the most popular drinks in Russia? It might come as a surprise, but ordinary Russians drink non-alcoholic beverages mostly, and tea is the number one of them!

Tea time is an extremely significant part of Russian culture. But don’t worry, the list doesn’t end with vodka and tea. Russians have a drink for every situation: to warm up, to refresh, to drink with friends or alone. Check out our list and try those drinks once you are in Russia; besides, some of them you can try to make at home!

1. Kompot

kompot

Everyone likes Kompot! It’s one of the most favorite sweet drinks for kids because after drinking all the glass of kompot, they can eat berries from the bottom of the glass. Kompot is a traditional Russian beverage that combines various fruits and berries. It is a perfect refreshing drink for lunch on a hot summer day.

Cherry Kompot Recipe:

  • Cherries: 1 pound
  • Water: 8 cup
  • Sugar: 1 cup

  1. Put clean cherries in a jar.
  2. Boil water, then pour sugar until it melts, and pour the syrup on cherries in a jar. Close a jar and leave it to cool.

2. Kvass

kvass

One of the must-try national Russian drinks is kvass! The ancient drink is made from buckwheat, wheat, rye bread, and water. From first sight, kvass might taste like a variation of soda; indeed, it’s an excellent beverage during the summer. By the way, kvass can be a little alcoholic, so drivers, be aware!

3. Medovukha

medovukha

There are plenty of recipes on making medovukha, the traditional one is made from honey, sugar, yeast, and water, but your imagination only limits the recipe! Medovukha is one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in Russia that contains between 2 and 12 percent of alcohol. Also, it can be spiced up with herbs, berries, or fruits.

4. Kissel

kissel

Once you see kissel, you might think about whether you should drink it or eat it because the consistency is very thick. Kissel was a trendy drink in the Soviet years, made from various berries and fruits, and cooked with starch. The beverage is mostly served after dinner as a dessert.

Kissel Recipe:

  • Potato starch: 3 tablespoons
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Sugar: 1/2 cup
  • Strawberries: 1 pound

  1. In a saucepan, bring to boil 1 cup water and sugar. Remove from heat.
  2. Dissolve the potato starch in the boiled syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Add strawberries.
  4. Pour it into bowls and leave in the refrigerator.

5. Vodka

vodka

If you never tried Russian vodka while visiting the country, you haven’t felt a real Russian atmosphere! Russians like to drink vodka for many occasions; it can be a commemoration or a huge celebration. Russians usually express their sadness and happiness with vodka. Locals have many vodka traditions; for example, they should “wash the purchase.” If someone buys a new house or any other expensive item, they have to drink vodka with friends and relatives for luck. Quick tip - don’t drink it on an empty stomach!

6. Tea

tea

Tea has a significant role in Russian culture. Due to the cold Northern climate, it became the most popular drink, and today is considered a national drink of Russia. Locals love to drink tea always and everywhere! Even these days, tea for breakfast is more trendy than a coffee. After lunch or dinner, they drink tea with dessert. If they get cold, they drink tea. And Russians like all kinds of tea: black tea with lemon, green tea, herbal tea, and many others. What’s your favorite?

7. Sbiten

sbiten

Nicknamed as “Russian mulled wine,” Sbiten appeared thousands of years ago and was a trendy drink until tea made an appearance in Russia. It is a sweet beverage made from honey, ginger, cinnamon, citrus, cloves, and other species. Try the hot Russian drink on a cold winter day to warm themselves up quickly! If you come to Russia during the colder season, you must try it and let us know if you like it better than the original mulled wine!

8. Ryazhenka

Ryazhenka

Russia values fermented beverages, and one of them is Ryazhenka. It is a yogurt made from cow’s milk and with the help of lactic acid bacteria. The drink has a soft caramel taste and combines numerous great vitamins for the immune system. And if you add vodka to it, you got yourself a Russian pina colada!

9. Vzvar

Vzvar

Vzvar is a tasty Slavic drink like a kompot made from berries and fruits, sweetened with sugar or honey, and spiced with herbs. The drink can be thick and sometimes might look more like a pudding, not a beverage. Due to its sweetness and variety of flavors, it is one of the most popular Russian drinks for kids. After kompot and kissel, of course.

10. White Russian

whiterussian

For the cocktail fans, the White Russian is a must-try. Most of the Russian cocktails have an interesting historical background, and this one is not exempt. White Russian was named after the White guards who participated in the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. Great fun-fact to share at the parties! The tasty alcoholic beverage is made from the coffee liqueur, vodka, cream, and ice. But you already know that, right?

We hope you got inspired by our list of Russian alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, so when traveling to Russia, don’t miss a chance to taste at least one of them and hear a historical background of every single beverage. Enjoy tours to Russia and immerse yourself in the exciting traditions of this country during your stay!

White Russian Recipe:

  • Coffee-flavored liqueur : 1 fluid ounce
  • Vodka: 2 fluid ounces
  • Ice: 1 cup
  • Heavy cream: 1 fluid ounce

  1. Combine vodka, coffee liqueur, and ice in a nice glass.
  2. Pour in heavy cream.

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