The Spirited Traveler: The party doesn't stop in Prague

Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:00pm EDT
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By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prague, with its inspiring architecture, picturesque squares and interesting museums, is a top tourist destination and a city where the party doesn't stop.

Residents the Czech Republic consume more alcohol than any other country in Europe, an average of 16.6 liters per person per year, according to the World Health Organization.

Although most of that is beer, the country also has a tradition of drinking stiff liqueurs, which are usually consumed straight up.

Among these is the herbal Becherovka, which is often mixed with tonic water and lemon to create a refreshing drink called the Beton. U.S. tipplers may be familiar with the tall green-glass bottle because Pernod Ricard USA added the spirit to its portfolio last year and re-launched the product.

Fruit brandies, particularly the high-proof aged plum brandy known as Slivovitz (sometimes spelled as Slivovice), is popular for toasting around the holidays and other special occasions.

Wherever visitors are headed in Prague, they can expect warm hospitality and the possibility of raising a glass with new friends.

"People are very friendly," said Czech native Vita Chase, manager of Hospoda, a Czech-owned beer hall and restaurant in New York. "Be ready. They may invite you for drinks. If you want to party, if you want to drink, they know how."

Chase advises travelers to look for the Vltava River, which divides Prague into two sections: Old Town (Stare Mesto), the main tourist area, and the Lesser Quarter (Mala Strana). On both sides of the river, "every little street has a special bar or pub," she said.   Continued...