(Disclaimer: my partner and I are sensible adults, of legal drinking age in the UK and USA, and we did not get drunk doing this challenge. We shared each drink we purchased, had food along the way, and carried around our trusty water bottle to stay hydrated. Get watered, not slaughtered, folks).
Long time, no blog, eh? I know it’s only been over three weeks but I do want to apologise for the lack of content on here; I was on vacation in Florida, resting and relaxing with my partner Rory! Of course, that means there’s going to be blog posts about what I got up to in the Sunshine State, starting with a challenge that inspired our trip…
Well over a year ago, I saw a video on one of the various foodie Instas of people doing a sort of pub crawl in Disney World. A pub crawl… in Disney World?! Well, that certainly piqued my interest. The given term for this challenge-meets-crawl is the “Drink Around the World Challenge”, and it goes as such – EPCOT is one of Disney World’s parks, and the main attraction of the park is the World Showcase; a lake surrounded by replicas of eleven different countries. These countries each have their own attractions, restaurants, bars, shows, and pavilions. It’s a great place to learn about other cultures, and have a drink at each stop! Over a year later and we were lucky enough to book a trip to Disney World and decided to give the challenge a go!
At 4pm on a Tuesday, we started our adventure around the World Showcase in Mexico. Despite having a (big) distaste for tequila in shot form (blerghhh), there was only one drink I had my eye on; a sweet and salty margarita. After walking through the Mexico Pavilion, beautifully made up to look like a market at night, we grabbed a table at ‘La Cava del Tequila’; an inviting, authentic-feeling, cellar bar. After pouring over the menu, we chose the Classic Strawberry Margarita. Made with muddled strawberries and cordial alongside a fancy tequila, it had a sweetness that masked the harshness of the tequila, yet didn’t hide the flavour. The rim of the glass was coated in hibiscus salt which certainly added a little something-something. If you don’t like strong tasting drinks, this one may not be for you, but it kicked off our challenge to a good start!
Moving on through the countries, we stopped at a small unassuming booth in Norway for a drink. This booth wasn’t on the map but I’m glad we found it, as there aren’t many places to stop for a drink in Norway; you have the ‘Akershus Royal Banquet Hall’ (reservations required), or ‘Kringla’ Bakery (as a woman with a lust for carbs and no self-control, I would have bought the whole bakery, alongside a drink). Rory chose the Einstock White Ale for us, and fair dos to him, it was lovely! It was light and refreshing, differing to a lot of the heavier British ales I am used to. The perfect second drink after a tangy tequila.
The next stop was China, and ohhh, you could smell it before you arrived (in the best way possible). The smell of chicken fried rice awoke the hunger in Rory, and despite the fact we were having dinner at the next stop, he purchased Pork and Vegetable Egg Rolls alongside our drink of choice; Kung Fu Punch, sold at ‘Joy of Tea’. We thought the first two drinks were great, but Kung Fu Punch blew them out of the water. Made with vodka and triple sec with some kind of fruit juice (my guess was mango), this drink was sweet to the highest degree, and really did pack a punch. The egg rolls were hot and crispy, and one of the best things I tasted at Disney World (yes, I know they were Rory’s, but I did steal some bites). We sat on a bench outside the Chinese Pavilion with our spoils, and watched the sunset tint the world orange. It was bliss.
However, there is no rest for the wicked, and we continued on our trail. The next stop for a drink was Germany, which also meant time for dinner. We stopped at the quick-service location ‘Sommerfest’ and ended up getting the most stereotypical meal available; a frankfurter sausage, and a beer. Although we opted for the Warsteiner Beer, they were out, so we ended up with a mystery German beer instead (it’s a mystery because I didn’t catch the name…)! The frankfurter with sauerkraut was tasty, but I think the deliciousness of the egg rolls had set such a high standard for me, that no other savoury food today would be up to the standard. I also enjoyed the beer, it tasted fine, but I approached an issue; what I like to call the Beer Wall. I love a good beer, it’s my go to at the pub, but there comes a point where it fills me up. Not even halfway through this challenge, and I was already feeling fit to burst. With a spring in Rory’s step, and sluggishness in my belly, we moved on.
We arrived in Italy, where the buildings were lit up and looking dazzling in the night, which had fully settled whilst we were at dinner. In need of something light and not beer, we ran to the ‘Gelati’ stand, which sold more than just gelati. I chose the Fior D’Arancio Moscato, mainly as Moscato rosé is my favourite cheap wine back in Britain (shout out to Barefoot Wines; I love you). This was nothing like the Moscato rosé from home; it was better. The Italian wine was white and sparkling, but maintained that sweetness that I love! It was so lovely that I could have sat outside the Italian Pavilion and drank a whole bottle by myself (buuuut I probably would have got kicked out of the park if I did that). We were back on track.
But, like every pub crawl or night out, bad choices were made. We trotted over to the United States section of World Showcase, and stopped at the ‘Food & Wine Festival Booth’. Overwhelmed by choice, Rory settled on the American Beer Flight; something which I felt up to trying after that gorgeous and light Moscato. Heavens, the Beer Fight was awful. Three beers, two people, and a lot of sadness. One beer tasted like soap, the other like dirt, so much so that the coffee flavoured one was the best; and beer should not taste like coffee. We had previously agreed to pick up a funnel cake whilst in this area, and I am so thankful for that; safe to say that the overwhelming amount of sugar helped to get rid of the taste of coffee infused dirt from my mouth. Thankfully, we had reached the halfway point.
Leaving the US area with upturned lips and soapy mouths, our next stop was Japan, which was one of the countries we were most excited about. We had already settled on getting Cold Sake, after hearing such good things from other people. A clear liquid, I joked to Rory “looks like ouzo; I hope it doesn’t taste like it!”… I didn’t think any drink in EPCOT could be worse than soapy beer, and yet, Sake happened. The first sip took me on a taste journey; from surprise, to disgust, to “oh NO, that’s awful!” I ran back to ‘Kabuki Cafe’, where we got the sake, and picked up a Cherry Kakigori (shaved ice with syrup on the top). We alternated a spoonful of sweet Kakigori, with a sip of harsh Sake until the drink was done (hey, we paid for it; we’re gonna finish it…)
Feeling simultaneously wired and tired, we arrived at Morocco. It was essential we found a drink we liked, or we would have to stop the challenge here. Enter, the Habibi Daiquiri. Sold at the ‘Oasis Stand’, this drink contained rum, strawberry, and orange blossom, and has taken the crown as my favourite drink of the challenge. It was sweet but not overpowering, and I would have been more than happy to have one of these on my own. Plus, I think Morocco may have been the best country in the World Showcase (in my personal opinion, of course). Having been to Dubai, an Arabic country with traditional markets called souks, I loved the recreated souks they had in the Pavilion. They had truly nailed the aesthetic, the sounds, and even the scent of spices in the air.
With only three countries to go and the evening getting late, we moved on to France. France is known for doing wine very well, so we chose a glass of Rosé Côtes de Provence from a little booth called ‘Les Vins des Chefs de France’. I’d like to apologise for not getting an aesthetically-pleasing picture of said wine, but we had a dilemma on our hands; we’d left our water bottle in Morocco. Look, I know the words ‘dilemma’ and ‘water bottle’ rarely go together, but this was Rory’s expensive Chilly’s bottle that was saving us £20 a day on water, and would be saving us from hangovers the next day! So, we ran through France and Morocco to find said bottle, and luckily we found it illuminated under a street light like a character about to give us a side quest in a video game. During the panic, we had glugged the wine as to not spill it, and that was that. All I can recall amongst the panic was that it was a rather dry wine!
Cradling said bottle happily, we pushed through the crowds that were building for the fireworks, and arrived in the homeland; the United Kingdom! We’d already visited here earlier in the week, and laughed about how stereotypical everything was. The drinks on offer were all known to us, having practically lived in Wetherspoons as students. After being baffled at the fact Disney considered Snakebite an “imperial blend”, we chose something a little bit different from the drinks cart; Frozen Pimms! I love a Pimms in the summer, so a frozen one in the Florida heat felt right. Until, it started raining. When in Britain, I guess…
With the rain getting slowly heavier, and the crowds pressing against each doorway and gap, ready to watch the fireworks, we moved swiftly on to the final stop; Canada. BANG; the fireworks began. With the booths all shut down (for the fireworks or rain, I don’t know), we ducked into the ‘Trading Post’ to get our bearings and find the final beverage on our map. To our surprise, there was a bar in the shop! Rory quickly chose the Moosehead Draft Lager, we snapped some photos, and off we dashed through the rain and the preoccupied crowd. We sipped our final drink as we walked through the rather empty park, laughing at each other and the rain. It was a good drink to end the challenge on; malty, light, and easy to drink.
Five and a half hours after we began the “Drink Around the World Challenge”, we arrived at our hotel exhausted, down quite a few dollars, with sore feet, but laughing non-stop. We each glugged a pint of water, curled up in our bed, and woke up feeling surprisingly fresh the next day. I’m so glad we completed the challenge. Not only did we get to taste so many new drinks that we would not have tried otherwise, we explored each country, and made some wonderful memories. Isn’t that what holiday is all about?