Drinking Around The World, Epcot Style

Greetings from the happiest and most magical place on earth™!

Drinking around the world is kind of my thing, as you may have noticed, so when my best friends decided to celebrate turning 40 by drinking around the world at Epcot, who was I to say no?

Growing up in Florida, I am no stranger to the Magic Kingdom. When I was roughly 4, I wandered off and joined the Festival of Fantasy Parade while my dad was reloading the camera. High school graduation for me ended with an epic Disney Grad Night.  My last Disney trip was spring break 2004, with a motley crew of actors from college, armed with park-hopper passes, courtesy of one of their mothers since there was no chance of any of us affording that luxury at that stage in our lives. What all of these Disney trips have in common is the fact that I was underage. By a lot. Drinking in Disney World was a new one on me, kids. Grab your mouse ears and sunscreen and buckle up, you’re in for Mr. Toad’s wild ride and you must be 21+ to get onboard.

Jena Drinks Around The World At Epcot

Before You Go…

Disney and Epcot trips in general require a great deal of planning. My besties are certified Disney Adults, so I was covered on that front, but if you don’t have a member of the Mickey Mouse Club in your circle because #disneyadultsaretheworst, you’re gonna need to do some research.

Let’s start with my area of expertise, shall we? To drink around the world in Epcot you are going to need to prepare! Electrolite packets and hydration options are a must. The water fountains in Disney parks don’t taste the greatest, good thing you can fill your backpack with flavored seltzer. Backpack? Yeah, you’re going to need one of those. Also, let’s not forget it rains pretty much daily in the Sunshine State, pack ponchos (it has rained every time I have gone to Epcot). And, to quote a song that played prominently throughout my Disney Grad Night, “WEAR SUNSCREEN.” Put said sunscreen in your backpack and reapply often, you’re in Florida. We went in late September and it was a scorching 98℉, which was pretty fitting as 98 Degrees (yeah they are still a thing) was actually playing the main-stage that day.

 

WEAR GOOD SHOES, YOU WILL BE WALKING.

You will wait in line. Lines are a thing, it’s Epcot. Be patient, arrive early, but also check out how to skip lines at Disney Parks.  Before you set off to drink around the world (and above it), check out the Epcot World Showcase country map and plan what you might want to imbibe in each country. We were there for Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, which also has a special map of extra countries and their offerings. Figure out your budget, admission to Epcot varies based on time of year, holidays, events, etc, and each drink ranges from $8- upward. If you’re staying outside the parks, which I recommend, make sure you have Uber or Lyft on your phone.

Mission: Cocktails in Space

Before you drink AROUND the world, see if you can score a bar stool to drink ABOVE it at the brand new Space 220 Bar. The entrance is nestled in a garden of agave plants, after which you take an elevator into outer space! You can make a reservation to blast off and do the full tasting menu or get on the wait list for bar spots and order a la carte.

We made this our first stop and it was worth the line and the hype; seriously, my favorite cocktails at Epcot. Service was excellent (shoutout to Alec, our fab bartender), drinks were well balanced and beyond fun to look at, as was the view of earth.

Fun fact: turns out Space 220 is operated by an outside company, not Disney itself. The cocktails are so great because they were created by the highly knowledgable bar staff! 

 

I thought Trader Sam’s was in San Francisco?

Oh Goofy, that’s Trad’r Sams–the oldest operating tiki bar in the US! Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is a bar in the basement of one of the first Disney hotels: The Polynesian. While we waited for our spot (the waitlist is always long, go early), we had the worst Mai Tais I have ever tasted at the hotel bar upstairs, so don’t get antsy wait for your drink until you descend into the Grotto!  

Do you like cocktails that come with a show, audience participation (and sometimes insults!), and giant pearl shaped commemorative glassware full of sugary booze? This is the bar for you!

Full disclosure, by the time we were able to get in here I had a bad migraine. I am not great with wearing headbands… blame the ears. This is a terrible place to be with a migraine. The shows that came with the cocktails, however, were honestly entertaining AF.

Although, I could’ve done without the insults for asking for seltzer and bitters. Once they realized I was, in fact, not feeling great and not just refusing to play along, they attempted to woo me with orchids and more mellow bar banter, and yes, they have a full NA menu I could’ve experienced but at that point ingesting any more sugar was unfathomable.  

Speaking of sugar, one of my friends really wanted to see the show that came with the commemorative pearl. She had zero clue what the primary (and notoriously sweet) ingredient was, but instead of asking the booze expert to her left or the daughter of a top liquor salesman on her right she dove right in and ordered.

The lights flickered, prompted by the staff, my friend bellowed “wake up Shelly!”,  a giant clamshell lit up and began to open, the bartender produced a shiny white pearl, and into it went the most diabetes inducing concoction known to man or clam. To each their own I suppose!

As you can probably tell Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto was not for me. If you’re a true craft cocktail aficionado, like I know most of you are if you’re reading along here at all, you may agree…but there’s only one way to find out!

Drinks Around The World

Years ago, a long since closed bar on the lower east side of Manhattan made an avocado mezcal margarita that I dream about to this day and, Tippler Nation, Epcot made my dream a delicious reality. La Cava Avocado: blanco tequila, melon liqueur, fresh avocado and lime juice. Served frozen with hibiscus salt rim. Get out of my dreams and into my glass!

Epcot Drink Around The World - Casa de Tequila
Epcot Drink Around The World - Mexico!
That delicious Avocado Margarita

La Cava del Tequila is worth the line! Drinking around the world at Epcot? More like leave me here, chicas, me encanta esta barra. Craft bottles? This backbar was a highlight! The bartenders were so knowledgable about agave distillates, not that they got much of a chance to employ that skill as sunburnt tourists shoved cell phones in their face saying “this is the best margarita recipe and I only like it with X tequila because it’s quality.” 

Dear Reader, I’m not going to name the brand but I will tell you that no, it was not quality. I will also tell you that the recipe on said iPhone screen was a classic marg, which they of course already had on the menu.

I imagine the staff around the world at Epcot receive this treatment a lot. Do not join in. Show them how Tippler Nation rolls. Tip big. Gracias.

Rather take a spin on the teacups?

Drinking around the world at Epcot doesn’t have to be boozy! There are plenty of tea-totalling options to be had. There is even a secret lounge during Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival near Morocco with free non alcoholic refreshments!

Epcot Drink Around The World - France!

While my memories of drinking my way through Paris, Cognac, and Bordeaux are extremely hard to live up to, Epcot France didn’t really come close. The pastries were delicious, I’ll give them that. I love the idea of a champagne flight and the bottle selection was quite nice, but can anything anywhere really live up to actually being in France? 

Ok, maybe I’m a snob. You go drink cognac in Cognac and Champagne in Paris and then go to France in Epcot, Orlando and tell me how you feel. C’est mieux en France.

Bubbles aside, the cocktail looked pretty but had the brix to rival a Florida 7-Eleven Slurpee without any acid for balance.  C’est la vie!

Epcot Drink Around The World - Ireland!

So Epcot groups all three countries of the United Kingdom, Ireland, England, & Scotland, together usually, but for Epcot Food and Wine Festival, Ireland got its own booth.

My friend’s hubby is partial to the Scotch flights, there are a myriad of Half & Half and Shandy options and a few cocktails…one of which features a certain cinnamon “whiskey” that I refuse to mention by name.

The beers, ciders, and whisk(e)ys are the usual suspects, nothing too new or exciting on offer, which is a shame as there is so much happening in the realm of Irish spirits these days! 

Are there craft drinks to be had at Epcot?

Disney is a huge company so it’s no surprise that they almost exclusively carry other big company’s products, given the sheer volume of product they go through. Which is why I wanted to do this write up as someone who almost exclusively drinks and supports craft. I did discover that they have their own  Knob Creek Disney Select Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon (you can try it at Trader Sam’s). There are plenty of beer, wine, and spirit options to be had, check out this link to view them all!

Japan also got its own special booth for Epcot Food and Wine Festival. The Fire Taiko Roll was pretty tasty and when I finished my order with arigato gozaimasu, the Japanese woman behind the counter was beyond thrilled and I found myself in my first  bow-off since Tokyo. Even if you are drinking around the world in Epcot and not actually in another country, it pays to know the customs!

There are sake flights, beers, and plum wine to be had in Japan and in China. The only sighting of baijiu, however, was at the Food and Wine China kiosk.  

It’s A Small World After All!

Drinking around the world at Epcot is a serious commitment, Tippler Nation. Drinking around the world in 98 degree heat while 98 degrees plays is not for the faint of heart: you’re going to log some steps (we did over 18,000) and sweat some booze!

Epcot Brewing lab<br />

Dole whip is delicious and even better with rum poured in it, but I’m not quite sure why it has such a cult following.

The beer selections in Canada, The American Adventure (yes that’s the name), and  Germany are passable.

The Brazilian kiosk had a Frozen Caipirinha and my fave Brazilian beer! I enjoyed the Peri-Peri shrimp in Kenya, and the fact that Norway had actual aquavit, but I was left wanting more… and also less.

Less crowds, less stimulation, less children and tourist mindsets. More cultural experiences, more local life, more craft producers. More people who are excited to learn, ask questions, and try new things, not thrust cellphone recipes at experts.

 

epcot

Yes, I am incredibly spoiled to live in Queens, New York. I can jump on a train and try food from all over the world every day. And when I pay, my money goes into the hands of people from those countries who are supporting their families. My neighborhood is a very small world, indeed. I can walk to 3 craft breweries without breaking a sweat. 

I am privileged to get opportunities to drink around the world, and to be able to share those experiences with others while stamping my actual passport. Travel should change you. Drinking around the world at Epcot is not the same as actually getting out and drinking around the world. The sheer variety of it all, however, may inspire you to do just that. And for everyone who enjoys Epcot Drink Around The World, I hope it does! 

It should come as no surprise to you that I, my friends, am not a Disney Adult. If you’re not either, but you’re heading to Orlando anyway, stay tuned for my article on a few easy day trips to keep you eating and drinking well while your friends and family are enjoying the magical kingdom. Cheers to drinking around the world!

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