Chouchen, less known than cider, is the oldest traditional alcoholic beverage in Brittany, a northwest part of France. In the old days, chouchen was a sweet, highly alcoholic drink made from honeycombs crushed with bees and fermented venom. It was so strong that the person who drank it could suddenly fall backwards and wake up three days later with terrible headache. But don’t worry, nowadays chouchen has changed and you can safely enjoy its taste. Of course, only if you follow our advice: drink in moderation.
Unlike the mead, the ancient Greek drink made from honey, water and yeast, chouchen was made from fermented honey and fruits. The Druids, the Celtic priests brought the recipe of the chouchen when they crossed the English Channel 500 years BC. So, chouchen is a real witness of the druidic heritage in Britain. It was the drink of Gods and beer was the drink of warriors. Today, everybody can find and enjoy a wide variety of flavored chouchen in every wine shop in Brittany. If you have the opportunity, make sure to taste chouchen from “Le cave du dragon rouge” a small producer located in Lannion in the Côtes d'Armor.
Chouchen is characterized by a pronounced fruit flavor and strong color. The type of honey used plays a decisive role because it influences taste and color (from pale yellow to brown) of the drink. Today it is a less alcoholic drink (only around 10% vol), without bee venom and it can be drunk as an aperitif or as a table drink. If you drink it as an aperitif make sure it is served chilled, but always without ice, so the taste of honey won't be a mask. Of course, you can also drink it for lunch or dessert. As fine wine and digestive, it accompanies the foie gras or even a seafood platter. It goes wonderfully with any regional recipe, like buckwheat pancakes or even fish and meat.
The night of Samhain, a Celtic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, celebrated from October 31st to November 1st, is the moment when the glass of chouchen is raised traditionally.
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