Just like its cuisine, there’s a ton of variety when it comes to liquor in India. Brewed in small batches and consumed locally, country liquors get a bad rap annually when there’s tragic news caused by moonshine. However, this misconception is unwarranted.
India has always had a strong culture of drinking.
It’s heartening to know that several communities have kept alive the practice of brewing their own liquor in the age of Glenfiddich and Smirnoff.
Here’s a list of liquid highs that provide a pleasant change from branded liquor, especially in these post-GST days of inflated prices!
1. Marua from Arunachal
The North-East’s love for homemade brews is evident in the variety of stuff produced across the seven states.
Apong, the beer brewed out of rice is more popular, but Marua is a great spin on the old favourite.
Made from millet, the dark beer is known to be smooth and a favourite of families in the Dibang Valley.
2. Chhang/Arak from the Trans-Himalayas
Staple at local weddings, Chhang and Arak (its headier cousin) are brewed across Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti in India.
A clear, strong liquid with almost no aroma, this variety of beer is made from rice and isn’t available at stores.
You will definitely be offered a glass if you are at a social gathering in a village home. Also check out the more discretely brewed apple and apricot variants when travelling around Kinnaur.
3. Lugdi from Himachal Pradesh
Lugdi has been witnessing a renaissance of sorts in the state’s heady valleys of Kullu and Lahaul.
Another rice beer from the Himalayas, bottles of it can be found at many stores and wine shops around Manali.
A fermented white liquid, Lugdi tastes like slightly sour curd and offers pleasant, mild highs.
4. Feni from Goa
Goa may not be the same anymore but its beloved drink – Feni – has topped country liquor charts in India for a while now.
Evocative of the coastal state’s laidback vibe and shady groves, the cashew variant is more popular than the one brewed using coconut palm.
Rebranded as a ‘heritage spirit’, Feni mixed with lemonade is a potent companion that can be smelt from a mile away while vacationing in the land of susegad.
5. Toddy from South India
Available in villages and conspicuous alleys of cities across Kerala, AP, Telangana and Karnataka, Toddy is a unique drink tapped from the palm tree flower.
Sweet, aromatic and mildly intoxicating in the mornings, the liquor becomes more potent with each passing hour.
Even today, drive through rural South India in the mornings and you’ll find toddy-tappers perched on palm trees, or transporting the precious liquid in small earthen pots on bicycles.
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