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To your health!

Having a few drinks when you’re on holiday is only to be expected for a lot of us but there has been a lot of publicity and, subsequently, confusion surrounding the terms within travel insurance that relate to alcohol consumption. A lot of coverage has tended to focus, possibly unfairly, on cases where claims have not been paid due to intoxication, that insurance companies are “killjoys” and being unrealistic when it comes to holiday relaxation.

It is unsurprising that alcohol forms part of the general exclusions for most travel insurance policies. However, many insurers are sensitive to the reality of travel and word their conditions accordingly. The Flexicover policy wording states: “We do not expect you to avoid alcohol on your trips or holidays but we will not cover any claims arising because you have drunk so much alcohol that your judgement is seriously affected…”

Essentially, you needn’t avoid alcohol on your holidays – drinking responsibly shouldn't pose a problem; after all it can be relaxing. Just make sure to check the exact terms of any policy so you’re aware of the insurer’s attitude.

With that, the Flexicover Team take a closer look at some tipples around the world.

Vodka - Poland

The term vodka comes from the Slavic word voda (“little water”) and has long been part of Polish tradition, with some blends dating back centuries. Usually distilled from rye, potato or beet, in its purest form it’s considered neutral and has very little or no hangover effect (although this is obviously dependent on consumption levels). Probably Poland's best-known vodka, Zubrówka (pronounced ‘zoob-roov-ka’), is also called ‘bison grass vodka’ as it’s flavoured with grass from the Bialowieza Forest which the bison feed on and has been in production for more than 600 years. When drinking vodka it should be chilled and drunk neat, normally in 50ml quantities. And don't forget to use the common toast “na zdrowie” (pronounced 'naz-dro-v-yeh'), meaning 'to health'!

Soju - South Korea

Soju is South Korea’s tipple of choice and was first made in the 1300s during the occupation by Mongolian forces who brought the knowledge of distillation from Persia. Traditionally made from rice (but manufacturers may substitute other starches such as wheat or barley), it’s actually the world’s best-selling spirit, though it’s barely seen in the export market. The top brand, Jinro, sells more than 60 million cases a year – nearly 3 times more than Smirnoff vodka! Koreans have a strict culture of respect and etiquette and drinking is no exception. When receiving a glass from elders, accept it with both hands (right hand holding with the left palm on the bottom) and bow your head slightly. When you drink turn to the side and cover both your glass and mouth with your hands. There are also rules unique to drinking soju - never pour your own glass and don't refill a glass until it’s empty.

Toddy – Sri Lanka

One of the most common sights in Sri Lanka is that of the king coconut trees swaying in the breeze, with their characteristic orangey-yellow ‘fruits’; they have been cultivated and used in food in the region for centuries. Sri Lankan cuisine is so dominated by it that it’s unsurprising that it also makes its way into drinks. Toddy (or palm wine) is a slightly sweet drink brewed from the sap of the coconut flowers, though class issues mean that it’s often passed over in favour of arack (fiery, distilled toddy). Traditionally, a toddy tapper rope-walks from tree to tree, approximately 30 feet about the ground so not for the faint-hearted, to harvest the sap. Each tree can provide up to two litres of this stuff per day and, in a typical day, a skilled tapper collects the milky white sap from 75 to 100 palms. A good toddy tastes like slightly musty ginger beer and comes in at around 4% ABV.

Xoriguer gin – Menorca, Spain

In the early 18th century the most easterly of the Balearic Islands was under British rule and the strategic port at Mahón was a major naval base. But the sailors and soldiers stationed on the island were unable to partake in the most popular drink of the time, gin. With this in mind, some ingenious locals endeared themselves to the servicemen by importing juniper berries and began producing a local gin. Unusually, it was made in wood-fired pot stills from distilled wine, rather than the more usual grain-based alcohol, and a secret blend of herbs known only to the Pons family who, to this day, make the gin themselves. The use of the wine base gives the gin a smoother and sweeter taste. The gin got its name (and windmill logo) almost 100 years ago when Senor Miguel Pons Justo christened their creation Xoriguer (pronounced ‘sho-ri-gair’) after the family windmill reflecting their long established reputation as millers. Xoriguer is one of the few gins in the world with its own EU designation of origin. Local tradition says it’s best drunk over ice with ‘cloudy’ lemonade!

Tej - Ethiopia

This is one for the lovers of craft drinks! Tej is the national drink of Ethiopia and is basically a traditional honey wine or mead. Unlike brewing beer, it has a relatively short fermentation time (3-6 weeks) and making tej does not require any fancy equipment, just a lot of honey and water, a big container and gesho, a species of buckthorn that is native only to Africa. As such it’s usually homemade but throughout Ethiopia it’s available in bars called tej betoch or tejbet (literally, "tej houses"). As you would expect from a honey-based drink, it’s yellow in colour, has a sweet taste and can have quite a bit of a kick, although the alcohol content varies greatly according to the length of fermentation. Traditionally served in special glass called a berele (a rounded vase-shaped container), all that‘s left is to raise your glass and proclaim the traditional Ethiopian toast, “Le tenachin”!

Wherever you travel and responsibly sample the local brew, at Flexicover we are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.