Georgia, cradled in the Caucasus and echoing with ancient legends, enthralling dances, and polyphonic harmonies, holds a treasure trove of culinary wonders. While Georgian wines have long been celebrated, the country’s non-alcoholic beverages are a lyrical narrative of its landscape and culture. Here, we present the top five non-alcoholic cocktails that invite you to sip the essence of Georgia.
- Tarkhuna (Tarragon Soda): A fluorescent green beverage, Tarkhuna is an effervescent delight made from tarragon, a herb cherished in Georgian cuisine. This soda, sweet with aromatic undertones, offers a refreshing quirkiness unique to Georgia, making it a must-try for those looking to venture beyond the conventional.
- Pelamushi Juice: Stemming from the Georgian dessert ‘Pelamushi’ made from grape juice, cornflour, and sugar, this juice is a reduced, non-thickened version. Deep purple, sweet, and slightly tart, it encapsulates the rich grape heritage of the region. On hot days, a cold glass of Pelamushi juice is Georgia’s answer to revitalization.
- Compote (Kompoti): Kompoti is Georgia’s ode to its bountiful orchards. Made by simmering various fruits like apples, cherries, apricots, and plums with sugar, the result is a fragrant, mildly sweet drink brimming with natural flavors. Served chilled, Kompoti offers a sip of Georgia’s summer in every gulp.
- Matsoni Yogurt Drink: Matsoni, a fermented yogurt intrinsic to Georgia, forms the base of this rejuvenating drink. When combined with water, a pinch of salt, and sometimes cucumber or herbs, it becomes a tangy, probiotic-rich beverage reminiscent of the Turkish ‘Ayran.’ Consumed especially during the warm months, it’s a testament to Georgia’s pastoral traditions.
- Churchkhela Syrup Drink: Churchkhela, often dubbed the ‘Georgian Snickers,’ is a candy made by dipping strings of nuts in thickened grape juice. The residual syrup from the Churchkhela-making process, when diluted, makes for a delightful drink. It’s a sweet, nutty nectar that evokes the heart of Georgian festivities.
Georgia’s non-alcoholic beverages mirror its topographical poetry — from the lush vineyards that inspire Pelamushi juice to the verdant fields that flavor Tarkhuna. These drinks, infused with history, tradition, and a dash of Georgian soul, offer an intoxicating journey without a hint of alcohol. As the Georgians would toast with a hearty “Gaumarjos!” (Cheers!), may you find joy in every sip.