Traditional Azerbaijani Beverages
Traditional Azerbaijani beverages include hot and cold, fermented and non-alcoholic options that are sure to quench your thirst and complement each meal:
Black tea is Azerbaijan's national drink. It is traditionally brewed in a samovar (a small metal urn) and served in pear-shaped glasses called armudu. Lemon, sugar cubes, sweets and fruits are typically served alongside black tea. When guests arrive, tea is served as a welcome gesture and provided continuously throughout the meeting. A guest should not leave without drinking at least one cup of tea!
One of the most popular ways for men to pass the time is by heading to the chaykhana, or traditional tea house, to enjoy traditional food of Azerbaijan while drinking endless cups of tea. Historically, the chaykhana was a man’s space, as women were discouraged from socializing in public. Even today, most tea houses are still male-dominated, although some chaykhanas for women have also begun to appear.
Sherbet is one of the most traditional Azerbaijani beverages which, unlike tea, is always offered cold. Made of fruit juice and sugar, sherbet comes in many flavors including lemon, pomegranate, strawberry and apricot. The perfect party drink, it’s commonly consumed during weddings, birthdays and other large ceremonies.
Ayran is another cold drink, a traditional beverage featuring yogurt mixed with chilled water and salt. Ayran is praised for being both refreshing and healthy and is commonly found throughout the Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia and even some European countries. Ayran goes great with qutab, Azerbaijan’s savory, stuffed flatbread.
Although many Azerbaijanis are Muslim and thus do not drink alcohol, both wine and beer have a history in the region that stretches back to antiquity. Alcoholic beverages are widely accessible in Azerbaijan today and are even produced locally.
Sharab is a wine produced from grapes, while nabiz is made from other fruits. Wines prepared from other sorts are called chakhyr. Many wineries in Azerbaijan use popular grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc, or Chardonnay. Local varietal wines include Matrasa, Shirvanshahi, Khindogny and Misqali.
Buza or boza, is a slightly fermented beer made from grains, one of Azerbaijan’s national alcoholic drinks that has been popular in the region for centuries. It contains a low level of alcohol and has a slightly acidic, sweet taste. It's still widely distributed, although modern popular brands such as Xirdalan and NZS are proving to be serious competition.
Azerbaijan also produces bottled mineral water, with leading brands being Istisu, Badamli and Sirab.