If you ever happen to visit Siberia during summertime, you will not only be blessed with hot sunny days but also get a chance to try the top three most popular traditional Siberian drinks. Those drinks have a long history in Russian households so that every generation of Russian babushkas knows how to make them and passes the recipes to their daughters. Luckily, you can easily buy these top three traditional drinks everywhere in Siberia nowadays and taste the original Russian spirits!
There is a huge variety of mors in Siberian cafes and restaurants during summer. Mors is a non-carbonated berry juice brewed for an hour and then diluted with some amount of water. The most popular berries for the drink are cowberries and blueberries, being the most commonly grown berries in Siberia. The first-ever mention of mors in the Russian literature could be found in A. Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin”, where it was called a “cowberry water”. The drink then was brewed for a period of 24 hours. It became pink in color and sour-sweet in taste. Mors can quench your thirst just perfectly, so search for it in every cafe in Siberia!
Kvass is a traditional drink of Slavic cuisine. It has a sour taste. To prepare kvass, you need rye malt, honey, and some spices. The drink which you will get as a result is a non-alcoholic, carbonated spirit of golden color which should be consumed cold. You can buy kvass everywhere on the streets of Siberian cities. Just look for yellow funny-looking vending machines on wheels, or you can buy kvass in every supermarket, or order it with your food in every cafe.
Siberia is famous for its special culture of tea-drinking. But have you ever wondered what was there before tea (or even before mors)? There was one drink called sbiten. Now, sbiten is something more ancient. It is a honey-based Slavic drink, brewed with medical herbs, water, and spices (usually cinnamon, pepper, and ginger was added to the brew). It can be taken cold or hot. In the past, hot sbiten was taken as a medicine during winter days. Hot sbiten was considered to have some healing anti-inflammatory powers. Originally sbiten was consumed by peasant people, but historians prove that:
“Sbiten was sold during intermissions in theatrical performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg and, therefore, was considered as a drink for the noble society” (Mikhail Pavlov).
Drink cold sbiten during summertime, especially when you visit a traditional Russian bath (hot steamed sauna). Cold sbiten freshens you up like no other drink! Hence to try all three traditional Siberian drinks, I recommend going to the places in Irkutsk which specialise in authentic Russian cuisine. Go to Shtoff and Delta restaurants for kvass, mors, and sbiten! Those drinks can be actually found in any place in Irkutsk during summertime!
No matter which drinks you choose during your summertime adventures in Siberia, you will for sure get closer to Russian culinary culture. However, if you are thirsty in Siberia, I would strongly recommend you to try these top three traditional Siberian drinks!
Cover photo © istockphoto/ Vselenka
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