Local Drinks

With temperatures running high, the Maltese have created some unique beverages to go with the Summer theme.

With temperatures running high, the Maltese have created some unique beverages to go with the Summer theme.

We’re a thirsty bunch – 40°C summers will do that to a nation. So it’s no wonder that the Maltese have created some unique beverages to quench their collective thirst. Like our desserts, local drinks can be flavoured with some interesting ingredients, including citrus, carob, almonds, cloves, aniseed and rosewater.

For some Maltese, a day at the beach without ħobż biż-żejt (bread rubbed with olive oil and tomatoes) and an ice cold glass of ruġġata is next to blasphemous. Ruġġata is a blend of almonds, vanilla, and on rare occasions, clove. It’s similar to the Italian latte di mandorla (almond milk). While not to everyone’s liking, it can be incredibly refreshing and delicious, provided you stay away from the ready-made just-add-water syrups.

Kinnie is a Maltese-produced carbonated soft drink. Its unique taste comes from a list of ingredients more at home on an eighteenth century medicine label: aromatic herbs, anise, ginseng… but its main ingredient is the bitter orange – giving it a refreshing kick. The drink is exported to a number of different countries and is particularly popular with the diaspora looking for a taste to remind them of the warm, languid summer evenings. Kinnie’s a great mixer too – try it with Gin, Rum or in a Negroni.

While espressos and cappuccinos abound (Malta hasn’t yet fallen victim to the Frappuccino and  Caramel Macchiato craze yet), there are still some who swear by the traditional Maltese Kafè – like it’s North African counterpart, traditional Maltese coffee is served in a small cup, is incredibly strong and aromatic, and is normally flavoured with cloves and rosewater. You can usually smell someone brewing a batch of this stuff from a few streets away, but the taste is heavenly – it takes rich and complex to a whole new level.

Malta’s principal brewery – Simonds Farsons Cisk plc produces the most popular lager consumed locally – Cisk. This bottom-fermented lager is a must for anyone after the local experience. It tastes best at one of Malta’s many village bars, where it’s served accompanied by small plates of kirxa (tripe stew) and bebbux (snails) – or, you could just have it with a bag of peanuts!

For a nation of only 450,000 people, we have a healthy and vibrant wine-producing culture. You’ll find Maltese wines in abundance at restaurants and supermarkets. For a uniquely Maltese taste, try one made from Ġellewza (red) or Għirgentina (white) grapes which are indigenous to Malta. 

There are also a number of locally distilled liqueurs, including one made from prickly pears (Opuntia ficus-indica) – it’s a sweet syrupy liqueur with a unique flavour. Recently popular is the Limuncell – a Maltese version of the Italian Limoncello, made with some of the tastiest lemons in the Mediterranean. It’s the perfect end to a delicious meal.

Did you know?

  • The famous eight-pointed Maltese Cross symbolizes the 8 obligations of the Knights of St John: Truth, faith, repent of sins, humility, justice, merciful, sincere and enduring persecution.
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