Once you are in Russia, chances are you will want to try the local cuisine. You may have already heard about (or even tried) Russian borsch, pelmeni, and vodka, but what do you know about non-alcoholic Russian beverages?
The one thing you can be sure of is that they are very delicious and well worth trying!
So here is the list of the top 5 traditional Russian non-alcoholic drinks you should try while in Russia!
Kvass is ometimes referred to as ‘Russian cola’, is commonly made of stale rye bread, yeast, water, and sugar. Other ingredients may include berries, raisins, honey, mint, etc. Kvass has a nice sweet and sour taste and is great to satisfy your thirst on a hot day! Home-made kvass tends to be sourer (and healthier!) than manufactured one, while the latter tastes more like cola, indeed. Anyway, each of them is a delicious drink in its own way!
Kompot is typically made of apples, pears, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, apricots, and plums. Or a combination of the above. Also popular are kompots made of dried fruit such as prunes, dried apricots, raisins, etc. The fruit/berries are simmered with water and sugar (sometimes honey). The drink may be served hot or cold depending on the season.
Mors is another traditional Russian drink. This one is mostly made of berries, such as cranberries, blackcurrant, redcurrant, cherries, raspberries, etc. The berries are boiled in water for just a few minutes, after which the drink is filtered and sugar is added. Alternatively, fresh berries can be mashed into puree and then put into hot water together wish sugar. The easiest way to make a mors is by dissolving a tablespoon of berry jam in a cup of hot water.
Morses are mostly served cold and are very welcome in summer. However, it is also common to serve hot morses in winter, especially as a cure for cold.
Although there are many recipes of medovukha not containing alcohol, in its traditional form, it does contain 5 to 10 percent of it. Sometimes referred to as ‘honey wine’, medovukha is predictably made of fermented honey, yeast, and water (with optional additions of berries and spices). Medovukha is widely available in shops, cafes, and restaurants and is often sold in the streets on public holidays. Its strong and sweet taste is loved by many.
Kefir is a milk-based fermented Russian drink known for its health-beneficial qualities. It is similar to plain yogurt but has a tangier taste. A powerful probiotic with antibacterial properties, kefir is good for your immune system. It helps fight digestive problems, osteoporosis and is even said to be useful in cancer treatment. No wonder kefir has been gaining popularity all over the world. In Russia, you can find it in literally every supermarket. Look for the ones whose shelf life is no longer than 10 days — they are the best for your health.
The official term "vodka" appeared rather late. It was first used in the decree of Elizabeth I. Up to this point, the drink was called boiled or combustible wine. It was an alcoholic drink with additional tastes and color: bread spirit insisted on herbs, berries or spices, and then distilled, getting a “serious” 45 percent degree. Most of people then add spring water to vodka; only the most desperate ones used it in its pure form.
Many people think that all Russians drink vodka, it is just necessary to warm up. In fact, the popularity of its consumption is greatly exaggerated. For most people, it appears on the table only for the arrival of guests.
This drink, which foreign sailors called “Russian mulled wine,” appeared in Russia a thousand years ago. It was made of honey with allspice, bay leaf, ginger, sage and chilli, with or without the addition of wine.
The drink was a kind of predecessor of tea and coffee. In the morning it was a must. Merchants carried the drink in vessels very similar to samovars. Interestingly, cups for sbiten had the edges turned outward - this allowed customers not to burn their lips when drinking.
Long time ago kissel was the most popular sweet Russian drink. Then it had a grayish-brown color, as it was prepared on the basis of rye, wheat or oat broths. The consistency was more like jelly, while the taste was sour, of course. It was boiled in large quantities throughout Russia. In Moscow, for example, there are the Bolshoy and Maly Kiselny lanes, named after kissel makers. Over time, the drink turned into a dessert and was served after dinner. In order to make the drink more sweet, honey, berry syrups or jam was added to it. When potatoes appeared in Russia, people began to make a drink using starch.
Prostokvasha can be compared to natural yogurt, though it is sour and has a bit different consistency. No one knows when and who invented the recipe for prostokvasha. Our ancestors for a long time adore this drink of waste-free production. Indeed, sour milk is so easy to turn into a wholesome and tasty product. Some scientists are sure that drinking sour milk daily can prolong life by 30 years.
Ryazhenka is a traditional drink, one of a number of fermented milk products. Nevertheless, the composition of ryazhenka is somewhat different from all other drinks. In fact, it is yogurt, cooked by souring cow's milk with the help of lactic acid bacteria. But for ryazhenka not just cow’s milk is used, but also baked milk. Therefore, it has its own special, creamy taste, delicate texture and cream color.
The benefits of ryazhenka are explained not only by a large amount of calcium, minerals and vitamins, but also by the presence of prebiotics. Regular drinking of ryazhenka helps digestion.