What Are You Drinking?

Food, Nightlife, Travel Tips — By Lorraine Seal on September 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Coffee and cake at a Salzburg street cafe.

Flickr: European Travelista

Salzburgers love to relax in outdoor cafés, wine bars, coffee houses and beer stub’n. Year-round, you’ll find them visiting over drinks in the sun when the weather is good, under umbrellas at pavement tables when it rains, or in cosy warmth behind windows when it’s cold.

What are they drinking? A wide range of beverages, alcoholic and non.

Kaffee, served in a range of styles, is very popular. A straight-forward coffee drink is a Kleiner (small) or Grosser (large) Brauner, which is coffee served with a small jug of milk. Or for a larger but weaker coffee, order a Verlängerter, which is a Grosser Brauner diluted with hot water. Any of these will be presented on a silver tray with a small glass of tap water along side.

Espresso is also popular. The Austrian version of a cappuccino is called a Melange. You will also see caffe latte and cappuccino on the menu. However, this cappuccino differs from the Italian version in that it served with whipped rather than frothed milk.

In the summer, Eiskaffee, coffee poured over either vanilla or chocolate ice cream topped with whipped cream is also very popular.

Beer is enormously popular here, of course. Lager and pils are available widely, as is Weissbier, a cloudy wheat beer. Radler is also popular; this is fruit-flavoured lager.

Though spirits are available, they are not usually consumed early in the evening. At the beginning of a social gathering, for instance at a party or sitting down to a meal, it is customary to enjoy a glass of Sekt, the Austria sparkling wine similar to champagne. Alternatively, one might have an aperitif. Campari and soda is popular, as is a refreshing Aperol spritz, made from the orange-coloured aperitif with Prosecco and soda.

Austria produces many terrific wines, many of which are widely available in wine shops and in restaurants in Salzburg. Perhaps the favourite red varietal is Zweigelt, the most widely grown grape in Austria. A wonderful dry white is produced from the  Grüner Veltliner grape.

The traditional after-dinner drink is Schnaps, a potent distillation of fruits, berries or herbs served straight in small shots. There are a wide variety of flavours. Marillen – apricot – and Zwetschken – plum – are perhaps the most widely served. But it’s fun to try different varieties. One of my favourites is Zirbenblut, made from pine sap. Another interesting Schnaps is Vogelbeer, made from rowan berries.

During the winter months, you’ll find Glühwein served from stalls in the streets around Salzburg. This is a sweet, spiced wine served hot, a delicious way to warm up those cold fingers. During the fall harvest, Sturm, the first fermented grape juice is available, which is also sweet.

So while visiting Salzburg, why not try something new to drink, as you explore the city. And, no matter what you’re drinking, remember this simple toast: ‘Prost!’

Tags: ‘Austrian wines’, ‘Grüner Veltliner’, Beer, Glühwein, Grosser Brauner, Kaffee, Kleiner Brauner, Marillen, Schnaps, Sekt, Sturm, Verlängerter, Vogelbeern, Zirbenblut, Zweigelt, Zwetschken