5 Russian Soft Drinks you Need to Try
When thinking of Russian drinks, it is most likely that vodka and other alcoholic drinks will spring to mind. However, there are lots of tasty soft drinks that are very popular in Russia. Here are 5 that I recommend trying.
Kvas is found in many Slavic and Baltic countries, and is made from rye bread. This rye bread is soaked in water with yeast and other ingredients which vary depending on the recipe that you are using, but can include mint, raisins and honey. This mixture is then fermented, and the result is a dark, slightly sweet yet tangy drink which is extremely popular in Russia. Due to the fermentation, this drink may have a very low alcohol content, usually sitting at below 1.5%, but this depends on the kvas, so be sure to check! You can read our blog post all about the origins of kvas here.
Kompot is the queen of the Russian stolovaya (столовая, canteen), and is the lunchtime drink of choice for many. There are many different varieties of kompot, but most will be a combination of a fruit (quite often a red berry), water and sugar, all boiled together. It is usually served cold, but in winter can also be served as a warm drink.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink which is thicker than a standard glass of milk. All though this isn’t a drink you’d order with a meal, it’s very popular and worth trying at some point. The drink is very sour, and it definitely is an acquired taste. Kefir has recently become the drink of choice for health fanatics in the UK and elsewhere due to its health benefits, which include supporting the immune system and improving problems with digestion.
Mors is similar to kompot, as they are both sweet, fruity drinks. The distinction lies in the fact that mors is almost always made from berries, usually lingonberries or cranberries. Berries are boiled with sugar, or it can also be made by simply mixing juice with sugar syrup or water. I have also seen a version of mors being made by mixing a berry jam with hot or cold water.
Tarragon soda (Напиток тархун)
I first tried this in Georgia, but it is also popular in Russia. This fizzy drink is a bright, very unnatural, shade of green, and has a slight taste of tarragon. If you are a lemonade fan and want to taste something new, this is worth the try.
Next time you’re in Russia, enjoy tasting these popular drinks! If you are in St. Petersburg and looking for somewhere to try them, read our blog post ‘Relaxing in St Petersburg: 10 interesting cafes’.
Leila, currently studying at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg