Cheers! A Guide to Maltese Drinks
Although the Maltese islands may be a tiny dot in the Mediterranean, they boast a rich culture regarding food and drink. Maltese drinks range from locally-made alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks. This includes soft drinks, wines, beers, liqueurs, and syrups made to enjoy in the beautiful Maltese weather. (Preferably alongside the beach or on a picnic).
The national drink in Malta is a soft drink called Kinnie, brewed from bitter oranges and extracts of wormwood. Cisk Lagers come in at a very close second place. Both drinks are by far the most popular and best-selling drinks among the local Maltese.
Kinnie is well-loved by adults and children alike, with three non-alcoholic versions of Kinnie and one alcoholic version. The non-alcoholic versions can be drunk straight as a refreshing orange drink or mixed with alcohol. It particularly complements alcohols such as Aperol and Campari for an aperitif.
The three non-alcoholic versions are the Kinnie Classic (unchanged since 1952), Diet Kinnie (calorie-free), and Kinnie Zest (no added sugar). Diet Kinnie is particularly loved by the older Maltese generations, who feel it tastes even better than the Classic!
The alcoholic version of Kinnie is Kinnie Spritz, a refreshingly light alcoholic aperitif with a 4% abv content. You should enjoy this one over ice and with a slice of orange.
Kinnie is super easy to find. Any convenience store, supermarket or vending machine should carry it. Most restaurants also offer Kinnie as part of their drink lists.
Cisk is the most popular beer in Malta, brewed by Farsons Brewery. The range includes lagers, ales, and stouts.
The original Cisk Lager is a bottom-fermented beer (and is generally the most popular among the Maltese). Meanwhile, there are the low-carbohydrate Cisk Excel (the second most popular) and the premium Cisk Export, the most widely exported variety of Cisk (available in Italy, Japan, and Cameroon). The brewery has also recently launched the Cisk Pilsner, which is different from other pilsners because of its higher alcoholic strength. If you prefer something stronger, you can try the Cisk Strong with an alcoholic strength of 9%; it is brewed from barley malt and has a distinct sweet taste.
However, if you prefer a lower alcoholic volume in your drinks, you can opt for the Cisk Chill varieties, which come in lemon, berry, and ginger & lime (4%). If you don’t drink, try out the Cisk 0.0 Alcohol-Free Lager – it is brewed, fermented, and matured using the same traditional and natural ingredients as a Cisk Lager, but then stripped of all its alcohol.
Again, Cisk is widely available in convenience stores, supermarkets, and most restaurants.
3. Delicata Wine: The Gran Cavalier Collection
The wine that Malta is most famous for is the Gran Cavalier collection by Delicata. This is Malta’s most awarded range of Maltese wines, earning 34 international honors. Delicata has also won an unrivaled total of 142 international awards!
There are two white and two red varietal wines, made entirely from Malta-grown grapes.
The two white wines are a sauvignon blanc and a chardonnay. The sauvignon blanc is a full-flavoured, tropical fruit, dry, white wine made with grapes that are left in contact with the skins before pressing. This ensures that maximum flavour and varietal characteristics are extracted. The chardonnay is also a full-flavoured, rich, dry white wine. This wine ages in French oak barriques to add depth and complexity.
Meanwhile, the two red wines are a merlot and a syrah. The merlot is a full-bodied, elegant, robust red wine matured and softened in French oak barriques. Meanwhile, the syrah is a full-bodied, rich, robust, and silky red wine. It has a gamey flavour and ripe yet super-soft tannins. After it matures for over a year in French oak barrels, it is bottled to continue ageing for more than six months.
You should find these wines at most supermarkets, or you can order them directly from Delicata by calling 21 825 199 or emailing email@example.com to place your order. They will deliver your wine anywhere in Malta.
Alternatively, visit Malta in August or September. This is because there are annual wine festivals that are hosted by Delicata. While the one in around mid-August is held in Valletta, the one in around mid-September is held in Nadur, Gozo.
4. Prickly Pear Cactus (Bajtra) Liqueur
The Maltese climate and soil are the perfect habitat to grow the prickly pear cactus, which farmers grow to serve as a windbreaker and to bar access to their fields. Its fruits are harvested between August and September.
To create the liqueur, the fruit’s pulp is extracted from the plant, sieved into vats, and fermented by adding a yeast species. The result is a sweet, decadent liqueur that is hard to find elsewhere.
Although other countries produce this liqueur, its taste and quality depend on the taste and quality of the fruit used to produce it – and Malta’s climate allows this cactus to produce the best fruit possible.
To try this liqueur, firstly keep in mind that the label might say “bajtra” rather than “prickly pear” liqueur (bajtra is the Maltese term referring to the fruit). Secondly, you’ll most likely find this liqueur in tourist souvenir shops or online: Jubilee Foods is a good option.
Last but not least: orzata is a hazelnut syrup that you mix with water. The Maltese like to consume this during the summer, as it’s best served cold in hot weather. It’s a very sweet drink, so it’s up to you whether you’d prefer to enjoy it with a meal or on its own as a cool beverage.
Orzata used to be something homemade but is now commercially sold and easy to find from any convenience or supermarket. This is not the type of drink found in restaurants or so. Look out for an off-white liquid in a plastic bottle. The most popular brand is Coolee.
There you have it: a list of Maltese drinks you should try to drink like a local. It should be noted that this isn’t a comprehensive list; it’s worth checking out Lord Chambray, Blue Label, and Hopleaf Pale Ale in terms of beer. It’s also worth checking out Meridiana, Marsovin, and Ta’ Betta in terms of wine!
Have fun 🙂