The most popular drink is soorch (Armenian coffee), also claimed by Georgians, Greeks and Arabs; a potent, finely ground cup of lusciously rich coffee, with thick sediment at the bottom. It goes well with honeyed pastries such as baklava. Tea is also popular, as are local soft drinks like Hay Cola. There is an interesting array of mineral and table waters, ranging from salty, volcanic Jermuk to lighter Noy and Dilijan waters. Fruit juices are cheap and delicious.
The two main lagers are Kilikia and Kotayk, widely available and quite refreshing on a hot summer afternoon. Kilikia is a typical middle-European lager, very good when fresh. Its main rival, Kotayk, is sold everywhere and is a little more reliable, if bland, while Erebuni has more flavour and is made by the same company. Russian Baltika beer is also sometimes available; Baltika 3 and Baltika 7 are the most common lagers. Kvas is a home brew sometimes sold at markets, a lightly alcoholic drink made from rye bread, something like a natural cola or sweet soda. The country's national liquor is cognac (around 40% alcohol). There are several other producers, such as Great Valley, but the Yerevan Brandy Company's Ararat label is the real thing, a smooth, intense liquor with a smoky aroma similar to whisky. Armenian konyak (cognac) has a huge following in Russia and Ukraine, and even Winston Churchill favoured it over the French stuff, and Stalin used to send him cases of Ararat cognac.
Most red wines are made from the Areni grape, well suited to the hot summers and harsh winters. The one-dollar-a-bottle stuff is what youТd expect, but some of the wines for AMD1500 to AMD5000 are excellent. Frosts and late springs make the Armenian vintage as shaky as the Champagne region. Some reputable Areni makers are Vayots Dzor, Vedi Alco, Getap and Noravank, and new wineries are springing up. White wines are produced from vineyards in Tavush, Lori and Karabakh, and are generally sweet or with extra tannins from the skins.
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