The ISA beverage festival can only be described as a good time. Well, maybe an educational one as well but with the amount of alcohol that went around, definitely a good time.
The festival is run by ISA as part of the Global Week of events that they put on every year. This year, the festival was held at the Glasshouse and priced at £9 (very worth it considering what you get – 10 tokens to spend on a range of exciting and exotic alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks). Nowhere else could you get ice cream flavoured concoctions, rice beverages and vodka shots followed by a quick grab of garlic butter and bread all under one roof. The festival is definitely a unique cultural experience and it requires only for you to purchase a ticket and turn up.
The Caledonian society had a range of whiskeys, which I made sure to save my spirit tokens on. Scottish whiskey? Yes please. The Russian society unsurprisingly had a range of vodkas on offer along with the Russian Standard we students have come to love. They also had a lovely cocktail made up of caramel syrup, grey goose vodka (though French, not Russian) and lemon juice. In true Russian drinking style, they recommended that we drink the vodka straight up. Not the most pleasant experience, but definitely the most authentic.
The Polish society had the biggest range of flavoured vodkas, ranging from honey to herbal. They also had a lovely apple pie cocktail made up of lemongrass vodka, cinnamon and apple juice.
The Korean society served up drinks that I had never tried, nor heard of before: Makgeolli, a milky white rice wine and Soju – a distilled beverage that they served with Yakult, which is a popular yoghurt drink in Asia. Sikhye was their non-alcoholic option, a rice dessert that was refreshing and sweet.
Highlights from the other societies include: Raki – an anise-flavoured drink from the Turkish society, sweet, alcoholic wines from the Greek society, a cloudberry liqueur from the Scandinavian society, Amaro Averna – a herbs and roots based liqueur from the Italian society, Caipirinha from the Portugese society, and poppy seed milk – only drunk on Christmas Eve – from the Lithuanian society.
The Malaysian society impressed, just like they did last year, serving up Pink-Colada, a mix of rose-flavoured syrup, condensed milk and Malibu. For the more daring, Estonia’s pepper schnapps, with a 35% alcohol level, was a kick in the mouth.
Besides being all in the name of good fun, the event was well planned out – abundant amounts of bread and snacks were placed on a table in the middle to prevent people from getting too drunk or peckish. The students from the different societies were lovely and were happy to answer all the alcohol-induced questions I had. Though there should have been more than an hour to go around all 13 stalls, the ISA beverage festival never fails to disappoint. Be sure to get a ticket next year!