18 Traditional Russian Drinks

Traditional Russian Drinks
Photo by Tim Rüßmann

There are many traditional Russian drinks, and this article focuses on some of these drinks. Have you ever wondered what people drink in different countries?

Sure, there are some parallels between countries, but there are also a lot of variances. Most countries have at least a few intriguing beverages unfamiliar to visitors from other countries.

The topic of this piece is Russian cocktails, which are an outstanding example of this pattern. Although Russia is most known for its vodka, it also has a diverse selection of other popular beverages.

Names like ryazhenka, kissel, and kvass come to mind. Some of these beverages are alcoholic, while many others are non-alcoholic.

Russians have a drink for every circumstance: unwind or wake up, warm up or refresh, and drink alone or with others.

Here is a list of some of the traditional Russian drinks. Let’s go

Table of Contents

  1. Vodka
  2. Kvass
  3. Russian Caravan
  4. Sbiten
  5. Milk Kefir
  6. Kompot
  7. Kalmyk Tea
  8. Coffee Raf
  9. Yorsh
  10. Vzvar
  11. Kissel
  12. Mors
  13. Ryazhenka
  14. Medovukha
  15. Starka
  16. Samogon
  17. Prostokvasha
  18. Birch Juice


One of the most well-known traditional Russian drinks is vodka. It’s the drink that most people identify within Russia, at least.

The name is considered a play on the Russian word for water, but this theory and the spirit’s origins are hotly debated.

The spirit is clear and consists primarily of ethanol and water. There are trace contaminants in certain vodkas, especially low-quality vodkas. These can add a subtle flavor. Instead, look for high-quality types of vodka if you want pure flavorless vodka.

Flavored and flavored vodkas are also widely available. These have more intense tastes. However, you can consume them on their own or in a cocktail.

In Russia, vodka is still quite popular. This is mainly due to its low cost, making it highly profitable for bars and similar establishments.

Still, vodka isn’t the only popular alcoholic beverage in Russia, nor is it the only drink worth sampling. Also, Russia has far more to offer than a single well-known spirit. Other varieties of alcohol, as well as traditional non-alcoholic beverages, are consumed.


One non-alcoholic example is kvass. It’s a fermented beverage produced from fermenting stale rye bread.

While that may not sound pleasant, kvass is quite tasty. The beverage is even known as Russian cola because the commercial version tastes very similar to a cola.

Kvass produced at home, on the other hand, is typically sourer. This is primarily because it has less sugar and chemicals. Unsurprisingly, homemade kvass and kvass from artisan producers are healthier than mass-produced equivalents.

Because kvass is a fermented beverage, it may contain some alcohol (usually less than 2.5%). This tastes like kombucha. And, like kombucha, the alcohol concentration of kvass varies depending on how it’s created and how long it’s been sitting.

Russian Caravan

Russian Caravan’s tea mix is often created with Chinese oolong and black teas. The combinations vary, but they usually contain at least two tea kinds, with Keemun black tea, smoky Lapsang Souchong, and oolong teas being the most popular.

Furthermore, Russian Caravan is made with fully or partially oxidized teas, and the final flavor is often dark, smokey, spicy, and malty. Traditionally, Chinese black teas were used in the mix, but Indian (Assam) or Taiwanese teas could be used instead because there are no specific components.


Sbiten is a traditional Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarussian beverage. It’s similar to mulled wine, in which red wine is combined with honey, spices, and jam.

If you adopt this strategy, you’ll get a dark red or purple drink commonly served hot and called gluhwein. This is one of the traditional drinks you should try.

A non-alcoholic variant is also available, using water instead of red wine. Also, honey is the predominant flavor in this drink, making it an excellent choice for cold days and as a cold remedy.

Milk Kefir

Kefir is a popular fermented milk beverage that improves intestinal health. Milk kefir is similar to drinkable yogurt, but it has a distinct sharp flavor and is somewhat carbonated. It may take some time to adjust to. Kefir, on the other hand, can be rather tasty.

While kefir is currently popular worldwide, it originated in Russia, notably the Northern Caucasus. It was a closely guarded secret for a long time, but like most secrets, it ultimately leaked.

Kefir grains are widely available, allowing consumers to brew their kefir at home. Kefir is still widely available in Russia and may be seen on supermarket shelves.

Furthermore, Look for kefir with a short shelf life, regardless of where you get it (no more than ten days or so). If the shelf life is prolonged, the kefir is most likely heavily processed or contains additives to extend its shelf life.

Probiotics should be more abundant in the versions with a limited shelf life. This is one of the best traditional Russian drinks.


Kompot could be ideal if you prefer fruity drinks. This fruit drink is sweet and non-alcoholic, and You can enjoy it at any temperature.

Kompot is a simple dish to make. Simply combine a variety of fruits with a significant amount of water and sugar to cook.

Also, Peaches, apples, and strawberries are traditional fruits, but you can use any fruit you prefer. You could also include spices and dried fruit.

As you can see, there is a lot of space for diversity and adaptability. Also, you can choose whichever fruit and spice combo you like.

Kalmyk Tea

Kalmyk tea, also known as chai, is a thick, creamy tea made with crushed green or black tea and butter, milk, and salt.

Nutmeg and other spices, such as peppercorns, are sometimes used in the variants. This tea is manufactured primarily from pressed green tea stems, stalks, and twigs.

Kalmyk tea is named after the Kalmyk, a Mongolian nomadic people that live in Russia and Kyrgyzstan and make up the majority of the Russian region Kalmykia.

Also, You will most likely use melted butter, salt, and camel milk to make the tea at first. This is one of the most popular traditional Russian drinks.

Coffee Raf

Coffee Raf is a coffee-based drink developed in Moscow’s Coffee Bean. A shot of espresso, cream, and plain and vanilla sugar is commonly used to make the drink.

Unlike other coffee kinds, the ingredients in coffee Raf are mixed and then steamed to create a creamy, uniform drink.

Furthermore, according to mythology, Coffee Raf was established in the 1990s for Rafael Timberbaev, a regular at the Coffee Bean shop who enjoyed his coffee with milk. Also, coffee was given its current name once it became popular.


Yorsh is a famous Russian mixed drink created with a beer and vodka mixture. Personal preferences may influence the ingredient proportions.

Because Yorsh is generally enjoyed in social settings following a toast, it is recommended that you sip the cocktail fast once the ingredients have been blended.

Although vodka does not significantly modify the flavor of beer, it substantially boosts the alcohol level of the cocktail, making it ideal for getting drunk quickly.


This drink resembles kompot in appearance, which is not surprising given that the two drinks are created similarly. Both use boiling water, fruit, and a sweetener of some sort.

Because the fruit is crushed, vzvar is usually thicker than kompot. However, the difference is frequently insignificant.

Furthermore, the fundamental distinction between the two beverages is that vzvar contains aromatic herbs. Some versions include a splash of wine to make a warming cocktail.


Kissel is an exception. It isn’t easy to decide whether to call it a drink, a dessert, or a soup. Fruit juice or mashed fruit, water, and a thickening agent are used to make it.

Kissel has a different texture than typical fruit juice due to the thickening ingredient. The amount of thickening employed has an impact on the final surface. The drink is sometimes as thin as conventional fruit juice, and other times it is thick enough to eat with a spoon.

Moreover, there are numerous different versions. The drink, for example, can be served hot or cold. You can also add fruit or red wine, substantially altering the flavor.

Instead of the conventional method, many countries now provide instant kissel mixtures. However, while the instant versions do not have the same flavor as the traditional versions, they are simpler to prepare.


Mors and kompot are similar in that they both rely on fruit. While kompot employs a variety of fruits, such as apples and peaches, mors focuses solely on berries.

We’re not simply talking about strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. Other berries, such as redcurrants, blackcurrants, and cranberries, can also be included in the drink.

You can make the drink in a variety of ways. One method is to boil fresh berries in water, drain the liquid, then sweeten it with sugar. Alternatively, you can crush the berries and then combine them with hot water and sugar.

This drink may be served hot or cold, making it suitable for every season. Undoubtedly, this is one of the different types of traditional Russian drinks.


For starters, the beverage is a form of fermented milk. This makes it comparable to kefir. However, ryazhenka is made from cow’s milk and soured with lactic acid, unlike kefir.

We’re also not talking about ordinary cow’s milk. Ryazhenka is made using baked milk. It has a texture and color that distinguishes it from other fermented milk products.

One of the best reasons to sample ryazhenka is the flavor. The caramel flavor of the drink comes from baking the milk. There’s no need to add any sweetener because the fruit is naturally sweet.

The health benefits are similar to those of kefir. As a result, the drink has plenty of probiotics and all of the minerals found in dairy milk, including calcium.


Even though it isn’t as popular these days, Medovukha has a long history in Russia. Because it is made from fermented honey, it is comparable to mead. It’s not extremely strong, with an ABV typically ranging between 5% and 10%.

Water, sugar, honey, and yeast are the primary ingredients. Of course, there are many ways to alter the recipe, such as adding herbs or fruits for added flavor.

Furthermore, Medovukha, like mead, is less popular than modern alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and spirits. Also, there has been a modern rebirth of interest, and medovukha merchants may be found in Russia.


Starka is a type of alcoholic beverage made from rye spirit. It is usually connected with Poland, Lithuania, and Russia and dates back to the 15th century.

Its origins are linked mainly to Polish noble families who would bury and age a distillate in wooden barrels to mark a child’s birth.

Furthermore, Starka was only drunk on rare occasions, most notably on the wedding day of a kid. The best forms of this historic drink are still aged in oak barrels, and most types are now produced from rye distillate and several secret additives.


Samogon, also known as Russian moonshine, is a strong drink made from various components. The most popular essential ingredients include wheat, corn, beets, sugar, potatoes, bread, and fruits. This centuries-old beverage’s name approximately translates to “self-distilled.”

Although the exact date when samogon appeared initially is unknown, it is thought to have preceded the all-time favorite Russian vodka.

Samogon has long been a popular drink among Russia’s lower socioeconomic levels and rural locations. Any non-state-produced liquor was forbidden beginning with Ivan the Terrible’s reign, and vodka and wine were primarily promoted as viable alternatives. This is one of the best traditional Russian drinks.


Prostokvasha is a sour milk beverage similar to kefir and ryazhenka. Also, Prostokvasha is thicker than kefir and lacks the same noticeable sourness.

Another probiotic option, the drink is an excellent method to improve your gut bacteria. It’s also simple to consume. Furthermore, the lack of sourness makes it a great probiotic for beginners.

Birch Juice

Birch juice is known as beryozovy sok and requires no explanation. The sap from the birch tree is all it is. The fluid has a viscosity similar to water and a mildly sweet flavor.

Birch was considered a sacred tree in Slavic history. Thus it’s a unique drink. Although birch juice is still consumed regularly, this is no longer the case. You can even pick it up on your own. The trick is to be cautious so as not to harm the tree.

The juice’s availability has risen and fallen throughout time. Following the Chornobyl tragedy at the end of the 1980s, it became increasingly difficult to locate.

Since then, availability has expanded, partially because the drink has become popular among bodybuilders and partly because it is viewed as a symbol of Russia.

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