How to Drink Around the World at Disney's Epcot

Considering its squeaky-clean image, Walt Disney World near Orlando would never put this one on the maps, but it's an open secret that visitors have known about for three decades: People love drinking their way around the World Showcase of Epcot. After all, Epcot was the first American Disney park to permit the general sale of alcohol when it opened in 1982. With few thrill rides and dozens of restaurants serving world cuisine from Moroccan to French, Epcot has always been the park that most appeals to adults. Adult beverages are a big part of it.

And if you have ever visited Epcot with a bunch of friends, you know that one of the best ways to celebrate is what's commonly called "Drink Around the World," a self-guided route in which visitors hit pavilions that are themed to international nations—and try a little tipple in each "country." Never to get blotto, of course—Disney isn't Daytona, and it's much too family-friendly for fraternity hijinks to be acceptable—but if you're staying on premises at the resort, having a few is no problem because Disney's buses and monorails will carry you home.

Photo: The Monorail passes Future World and the Imagination! pavilion at sunset.

Jason Cochran (@JasCochran) is the author of Frommer's EasyGuide to Disney World, Universal, and Orlando, named Guide Book of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Awards.
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Because World Showcase is a looping 1.3-mile walk, you can either start in Mexico or in Canada, the two endpoints closest to Future World. We'll go clockwise, starting in Mexico, the first pavilion on the left as you enter. It so happens that here you'll find the king of the Epcot cocktails: the frozen margarita. There are forms of the slushie in nearly every "land," even where they have no bearing on authentity (such as in Morocco), but none are better than the tequila classic. Get one (salt or no salt) from the kiosk just past the faux pyramid and sip them on the lagoon. Hopefully it's a warm Florida day—these will cool you down and start you off well.
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But not everyone wants brain freezes or sugar rushes, so for them, the Mexican drink should be tequila. Go inside the pyramid—where it's cool and dark—and keep to the right for La Cava del Tequila, which stocks some 120 tequilas, snacks such as chips and guac, and has bartenders who can make a classic margarita on the rocks. 
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The choice in Norway is a powerful one, so lightweights should skip it if they want to make it all the way around to Canada. Shots of Linie Aquavit Glacier cost around $10, which is pricey, but that's because it's about 40% alcohol. A potato-based spirit distilled with botanicals such as fennel and anise—a little like gin, a lot like paint thinner—Norwegians use it to warm up in the throes of a frozen winter. 

Why is there a ship on the bottle? Here's how the makers describe its production—you tell me if it sounds true: "Each and every cask of Linie Aquavit is sent on a sea voyage, crossing the Equator twice. The constant rolling and changing temperature and humidity during the journey give Linie an unparalleled smoothness."

Aquavit is sold in the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe bakery, at the left, and often from a cart. Lightweights can get coffee with Baileys in it or even a beer—although the choice here, Carlsberg, isn't Norwegian, but Danish.
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Here comes China! Head to the Joy of Tea kiosk along the waterfront. It's too bad that while other World Showcase countries serve drinks you'd easily find in the host country, China's selections are more cartoonish: common menu items include the Canto Loopy (with vodka and canteloupe juice), a mango gingerita (not generally served in Xian), and recently, a special called Tipsy Ducks in Love, which combined tea, coffee, whiskey, and chocolate topped with whipped cream.
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Given beverages of such questionable provenance, stick to the one based on something real: plum wine. Have a taste of it by itself or order the Green Tea Plum Slush, served with a hit of plum wine, so it's not too strong. They don't drink these in China of course, but at least the welcome seems authentic.
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Sure, you could get a shot of Jägermeister, but not everyone is still in college. Instead, try something refreshing for the Florida weather: Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Beer. A little sweet, almost like cider, it's something different. Purists can go for the Radeberger Pilsner or Altenmünster Oktoberfest beers.
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This is where you head in Italy. Granted, wine and pasta are on sale just about everywhere you turn, including flights of wine in the stores, but Tutto Gusto is a dark, cool wine bar set up expressly for you to try something made in Italy. You can leaven your choice with solid food in the form of artisanal cheese and meats, too, giving your alcoholic adventure some much-needed responsibility.
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The Italy pavilion is so rich with the products of European vineyards that some who accept the challenge of Drink Around the World never make it past this section. There's lots of pinot grigio, chianti, Prosecco, and Moretti beer on hand, but for something a little different, order a Cynar and Soda. Cynar is a liqueur and apéritif made in Italy with more than a dozen plants—including, imperceptibly, artichoke—and its red color and bittersweet bite will put those who have traveled to Venice in the mind of an Aperol spritz, served in bars alongside the canals each afternoon as the sun goes down.
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In Epcot's smorgasbord of international adult beverages, America contributes beer. This festive-looking kiosk to the right of the main show building usually has a list of six small-brew ales, lagers, or IPAs on offer (plus Mickey-shaped pretzels). With fare like that you might, for a moment, be fooled into thinking you've wandered back to the Germany pavilion. But that's Epcot's version of America: Just like the real thing, it's an amalgam of outside influences—even the main American Adventure building is more Georgian English than truly American.

There's often a concert series on at the stage across the path from Block & Hans, so take a moment, chill out, and pace yourself. You've just passed the halfway point of your Drink Around the World.
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You won't find it listed on the park maps. To get here and try the most authentic of the Japanese tipples, go into the Mitsukoshi department store and foray all the way to the back. There, you'll find a bar where you can taste sake, which is a popular Japanese beverage made of fermented rice. Don't know anything about sake? Never fear—you can try a few in a flight and the counter staff will give you an excellent basic education on the main flavors and styles. Go easy, though—sake packs a wallop, so servings are small. (The tourists in this photograph are drinking beer, which is also a possibility, but you're in World Showcase! You should try something new.)
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Muslim countries are not big on alcohol, but Epcot's Morocco is not like those. Go through the keyhole doorway of Spice Road Table, located on the waterfront, to find one of the prettiest bars in the whole World Showcase.
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Inside the keyhole door, there's a bar, and through the back, you overlook the water outside. Order a pitcher of sangria. It's certified organic and comes in red, white, or sparkling.

If you're smart, you'll plan several months ahead and make a table reservation that coincides with the nightly spectacular pyrotechnic show over the lagoon. But since there are a few more lands to go, don't stop your beverage world tour just yet.
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In France, wend your way back and to the left to find L'Artisan des Glaces. It's technically an ice cream shop, but this crazy concoction is lower down on the menu: ice cream or sorbet plus a shot of Grand Marnier, topped with whipped cream and vodka or rum. Strong stuff!
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By this time, if you've sampled everything in our list, you might be mistaking France's miniature Eiffel Tower for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You may also be taking terrible snapshots like this one, which goes to show that Drink Around the World may wreak havoc on your compositional skills. The menu above the politely bemused cast member also goes to show that we have barely scratched the surface of the booze available at World Showcase—in addition to the ice cream martini, France also has wine flights (at Aux Vins de France, inside the suite of indoor shops), wine by the glass, and orange slushies combining Grand Marnier, rum, and Grey Goose vodka.
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At this point in your round-the-world imbibing, seeing a replica British pub standing in front of you will not be surprising. You could, perhaps, get a Leaping Leprechaun (Myer's Platinum Rum, Skyy vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey, melon liqueur, Sprite), but that would not only be excessive but it would also conflate Ireland with the U.K. Since Epcot's map says you're supposedly in an alternate United Kingdom, drink like it and order Strongbow cider, Guinness (also Irish, but whatever), or a black and tan (Guinness mixed with a lighter beer). You're probably also in serious need of some food by now, so sop up your previous purchases with a Scotch egg or some bangers and mash before you regret the entire afternoon.
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You made it! Canada is the last stop! You might think that a fitting end to your adult round-the-world tour would be to go easy with a beer from the cart that stands in Canada, but watch out! The most logical selection, Unibroue's La Fin du Monde (which, appropriately, translates to "the end of the world") is rich, flowery—and a staggering 9% A.B.V., as much as triple the potency of a standard beer.  And by that I mean you will be staggering, so tread carefully with this final toast lest you be the more toasted. 

Better yet, rather than brutalize yourself with 11 drinks in 11 lands in a single day, buy a multi-day park pass and break up your Drink Around the World enjoyment. It's not a good look to black out at Disney World, and you want to be steady and lucid by the time you reach the end, not wasted. Canada is always getting left out, and that's not fair even at Epcot.
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