One of the best things about visiting a new country is sampling the local delicacies and getting involved, as much as you can, with local traditions.
When arriving in Bulgaria, we set about exploring these traditions, specifically favourite Bulgarian drinks.
First, a bit about the drinking culture here: the official drinking age is 18 but this is apparently rarely enforced in shops or restaurants, and indeed none of our group has been asked for identification when trying to purchase it. This means that Bulgarians are knowledgeable on alcohol, enjoy taking it slowly and rarely binge or ‘down’ drinks quickly. Bulgarians view drinking alcohol as a chance to get together with people and to socialise, and to have usually with a light snack. They favour a range of alcohol including beer, wine, rakia (a highly popular, and often very strong, fruit brandy) and cognac. Another favourite kind of liquor is the Green Menta, which I will discuss in this review.
After meeting a couple of Varna locals on the beach at Cubo Bar, they insisted we try Green Menta – a light and refreshing drink, made from spearmint oils, that can be mixed with Sprite or milk. They told us that it is a favourite among Bulgarians and is their ‘go to’ summer beach drink, because of its delicate and cool taste, and cheap price tag.
We tried a glass of Menta and Sprite with ice and a slice of lemon on a warm day in Varna and I can say that it was very refreshing, if you are a fan of mint. Menta has a lower alcohol content than most liquors, averaging around 25%. This was unsurprising because, together with the Sprite, it was quite a sweet drink that you might not guess had much alcohol in it at all if you didn’t know already.
Out of the three of us who tried it, two of us found it light and refreshing and the third found that it tasted more like dental mouthwash than a pleasant drink.
Green Menta is widely available, being sold in most bars, shops and restaurants, and is a very cheap drinking option – i.e. in the supermarket a 750ml bottle goes for around 5-7 BGN (around £2.25-3). Thus, while it may not be to everyone’s taste, grabbing a bottle for a little sample at least will definitely not break the bank.