1. Krasnodar tea
Krasnodar tea is the world's northernmost tea and it is grown and harvested in the remote mountainous areas of Sochi. You can try this tea, served in the traditional Russian way, in the famous Tea House located on the outskirts of Sochi. They offer several varieties – black long leaf with a deep amber hue or green tea infused with high-altitude medicinal herbs. These flavorful drinks are served with incredibly delicious poppy seed cakes, straight from a Russian oven, and honey and jams from local fruits and berries. The tea ceremony is performed according to Russian tradition with a steaming samovar and a balalaika and accordion playing in the background. Tickets to the Tea House cost 12-17 Euros. This price includes a tour, tea tasting, and dessert.
2. Mineral water
Sochi is also famous for its mineral water. The healing properties of Sochi's Chvizhepse, Plastunskaya, Sochinsky, Lazarevsky and Psezuaps mineral waters have been well known for years far beyond the city. These mineral waters are extracted from three springs and contain iron, fluorine, bromine and iodine. Because of these minerals, the water is healthy for daily consumption, is good tasting, and perfectly quenches the thirst. A bottle of Sochi's mineral water can be bought in almost every grocery store town. But you can also find it for free. There are fountains located in Riviera Park and Adler resort where mineral water is dispensed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
3. Honey-based drinks: honey liqueur, sbiten, and mead
Tourists visit Sochi beekeepers not only for the honey. Special honey drinks are bought here in large quantities to be taken home as souvenirs. Along the road to Krasnaya Polyana, for example there is the famous Gamzat Apiary (site in Russian) named, of course after its owner. Here they serve a marvelous honey liqueur that is perfect in the winter months for warming the body and soothing the soul. Sbiten is a grape wine with honey and spices with an exquisite and refined taste made according to a special recipe. Alcohol aficionados can try authentic mead in the apiary. One of the secrets to making mead is that this 80-proof beverage should infuse for at least three months.
Even in the cold winter months, consumption of beer does not go down in Sochi. Private breweries make a wide variety of beers. Tinkoff Restaurant (site in Russian) ( Primorskaya 19 in Sochi ) offers so-called "live beer" (beer that is not filtered or pasteurized), which has a pronounced malt aroma and a taste of hops. You can even watch the brewing process, as all the equipment is located directly behind a glass wall of the restaurant. The Dobry El brewery (site in Russian) is located in the center of the city ( Sochi, Kurortny prospect 16, Melodia shopping center ), and offers several types of beer, from dark ales to sweet beer with caramel and honey. The 12 Schillings local brewery creates unique beers ( Sochi, Vishnevaya street 24/2 ), and is located in the suburb of Makarenko. 12 Shillings serves beer in clay cups and mugs, which gives it an even more intense flavor.
All of these establishments offer customers surprisingly simple but very tasty snacks to go with beer: fried cheese, dried bread, pigs ears, and shrimps with garlic. The most famous beer pub in Adler is the Adler Golden restaurant (site in Russian) ( Sochi, Mira street 145) , where they brew popular beers from hops and malt but also serve traditional German beer soup with bacon.
5. Home-made wine
The incredibly fragrant Isabella grape variety has a saturated maroon color and grows in almost every yard in Sochi. The locals make home-made wine from it, and each family has their own, very special recipe. They make dry, sweet and semi-sweet wines from the grapes, and also from blackberries or raspberries. The wines are kept for years in the cellar for a special occasion – the arrival of important guests, a wedding, or the birth of a child. So, if you are lucky enough to be invited to the home of a hospitable Sochi family, do not refuse a glass of home-made wine. They will serve you the very best from their reserve. But don't be tempted by the alcohol you see sold in the city markets – some merchants are not honest and may dilute the wines they sell.
The main alcoholic drink that is used for toasts in Sochi is not vodka, but its Caucasian counterpart – Chacha. It has a higher alcohol content and, unlike vodka, a fruity taste. Traditional Chacha is classified as grape brandy and is produced in home breweries from pure alcohol and grapes. The Italian version of Chacha is called grappa, and southern Slavs call it Rakia. The drink has an unusual flavor, as it is infused with a walnut shell that grows near Sochi. But don't get carried away when you try it, because the Chacha can be 80 to 140 proof!
7. Fermented milk beverages: Matsoni, Aayran, and Tan
The Caucasus region has long been an area known for the longevity of its people. One of the reasons for this may be their daily diet of fermented milk beverages made from cow and goat milk. Matsoni is a traditional Caucasian fermented milk drink that originally came from Georgia. It is known as the "nectar of longevity." It is believed that Matsoni lowers cholesterol levels, aids digestion, reduces blood pressure, and prevents early aging. The fermented drink called Ayran is beneficial for the respiratory system and the nervous system. Another popular fermented milk product in Sochi is Tan, which came originally from Armenia. Tan can be used to treat dysbacteriosis, it improves metabolism, quenches thirst, and also helps people lose weight. A definite advantage of Tan is its amazing ability to cure a hangover. All of these drinks are made in homes and are also mass produced. They can be found in Sochi grocery stores.
8. Pomegranate Juice
All year round the cafes and restaurants of Sochi offer a variety of fresh juices from fruits, berries and vegetables. They consider the most important one to be pomegranate juice, whose health benefits have been proven repeatedly by scientists from different countries. In Sochi they make fresh pomegranate juice from fruit grown in the city or in neighboring Abkhazia. Sochi’s subtropical climate produces ripe pomegranates that are large, very juicy and sweet. Winter in Sochi is also the season for fresh mandarin juice. Just before New Year's Eve, thousands of cars carrying this fruit cross the Russian-Abkhaz border. Since the Soviet era of food shortages, mandarins have been a symbol of the new year throughout Russia.
9. Eastern-Style Coffee
Along with the traditional coffees such as Americano, Espresso, and Cappuccino, any reputable Sochi restaurant will serve authentic Turkish coffee because this is what local residents prefer. Turkish coffee is brewed in a special pot and made from coffee beans ground into a fine powder. Depending on the amount of sugar and water, the beverage may be bitter or sweet, liquid or thick. True coffee lovers like to experiment and add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg or black pepper to their coffee. A little-known secret to making coffee is to add a small pinch of salt – give it a try!
Sochi, Sokolov street 2-a, Biskvit cafe
Sochi, Ostrovsky street, U Negra cafe
Sochi, Neserbsky street, 16, Sultan cafe
10. Krasnaya Polyana Balsam
Many tourists insist on buying Krasnaya Polyana Balsam to bring home as a gift for relatives and friends. This drink is made from more than 20 medicinal herbs of the Western Caucasus, eight fruit infusions, fruit juices, and aromatic alcohols. The drink is effective in fighting fatigue, it boosts the immunity, and drinking it regularly can keep people from getting a cold.
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