As we learned while traveling in Austria, many Austrian traditions start with beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Before exploring on this trip, though, I would have thought the rivers were filled with beer in Austria, but there is so much more to Austrian drinks than beer (although I’ll talk about beer too!). In this guide, we share some of the Austrian alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks to taste while visiting Austria.
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Austrian Drinks Guide
Traveling Austria For Food And Drink
Normally we have no problem tracking down beer and wine when traveling. It’s sort of a gift. On this trip, though, we dived more deeply into the food and drink in Austria. This was in part because we were traveling with Avalon Waterways on one of their Active and Discovery Cruises on the Danube. Avalon’s goal is to encourage passengers to explore more during their cruises, by offering active excursions (think biking, hiking, and canoeing) and cultural excursions that do more to help travelers learn about the traditions of the country they are visiting.
Much of what we learned about food and drink in Austria came from these Avalon excursions. From beer and wine tastings to alcohol-related museum visits, we learned so much about typical Austrian cuisine and that includes drinks! I also did a lot of research before our trip too, in order to create this comprehensive list.
Check out this post about how to plan a road trip in Austria and actually get out to see the wine country!Check out our guide on What To Eat In Austria
Typical Austrian Drinks
In this guide, we share our list of what to drink in Austria and in some cases where to drink these Austrian beverages. I also hope to share some of the history and tradition behind these drinks.
The Ottoman Turks introduced coffee to Austria and the Austrians have not stopped drinking coffee since then. Vienna is the peak of coffee culture in Austria, with some beautiful cafes that are sprinkled across the city. This fascination with coffee pairs perfectly with the Austrian reputation for cakes and pastries. The Kaffeehaus Kultur means you can sip coffee for hours at a Viennese cafe.Headed to Vienna? Check out this list of the Best Cafes in Vienna Austria
Austrian Red Bull
It’s not common for us to put an energy drink on a list of what to drink in any destination. Red Bull is probably one of the most famous Austrian products even if most people don’t realize it is from Austria. I am personally not a fan of Red Bull. But, if you are a fan, their headquarters is located in the town of Fuschi, about 90-minutes south of Linz.Learn how to visit the Red Bull Headquarters here
Almdudler – Austrian Soda
Almdudler is a carbonated beverage made with extract of elderberry. Options include sweetened, light, uncarbonated and, as a spritz mixed with soda water. Or, try it with Austrian beer, called an Almradler, which is kind of like a shandy. Or, it is even mixed with Austrian wine as a kind of spritzer. We tried the original version of this Austrian soft drink, with a lovely Alpine couple on the front of the bottle. It was sweet and carbonated and I can imagine it being tasty mixed with wine or soda water
Lattella – Austrian Dairy Drink
Lattella is a fruit-dairy-drink from the 1970s. It comes in a variety of flavors and almost tastes like a yogurt drink. It’s sweet, creamy, and refreshing. The base of this drink is made from whey, which has all of the nutrients of milk but a lot less fat than other dairy products. Lattella likes to say it is the perfect Austrian breakfast drink too!
Austrian Drinks Pro Tip
You can find both Almdudler and Lattella at most grocery stores. The Lattella is located in the dairy section, but the Almdudler is with the sodas. They are both pretty refreshing on a warm day.
When it comes to Austrian alcoholic drinks, the most common are beer and wine. Different parts of the country tend to drink one more than the other. For example, around Vienna and in the Wachau Valley, wine is dominant. But, in Upper Austria, closer to Bavaria and Germany, beer rules the day. The average Austrian drinks over 100 liters of beer each year.
The quality of Austrian beer is quite high, similar to Czech beer and German beer. Most breweries produce beer inline with the strict Bavarian Beer Purity Laws from the 1500s. This means they brew beer using nothing more than water, malt, and hops. Because of these strict rules, it’s not common to find Austrian craft beer, although it is possible.
There are over 200 Austrian breweries. Some of the most popular Austrian beer brands include Stiegl, Zipfer, Gösser, and Ottakringer. When in Vienna, definitely try Ottakringer, which has been producing Austrian beers within the city since the 1830s. Wieselburger Bier has been a popular Austrian beer since 1770. In the Vienna region, try the Wieselburger Stammbräu that comes in the traditional clip lock bottles. For a true Austrian drinking experience, try to find a local beer garden.
Austrian Beer Pro Tip
Austria is not Germany. As much as there is a big beer drinking culture in both countries, don’t expect the uber-large beers you see in some parts of Germany. Austrian beer steins and glasses are smaller, normally no more than a half liter. A typical Austrian beer will cost between €3-4 and range in size from 300ml-500ml.
Trappist Beer In Austria
If looking for the best beer in Austria and for something truly unique, look for Trappist beer while traveling in Austria. At its most basic, Trappist beer is beer produced by Trappist monks. It’s definitely a niche product as there are only 14 monasteries in the world that produce beer. As one of our Avalon excursions we visited the only abbey where Trappist beer is produced in Austria.
We toured Engelszell Abbey and their grounds on our last cruise excursion. We were so far up the Danube we were practically in Germany. The church is absolutely stunning, but we visited to taste the Trappist beer. A certified “beer sommelier” walked us through how to properly taste the beer. I am not sure this was the best Austrian beer but all three styles we tried were pretty darn good. My favorite was the bock-style, which had flavors of coffee and chocolate. Even on a hot day, I could have knocked back several of the bock beer.
Austrian Beer Drinking Tips
Here are some more tips on how to drink beer in Austria. There are several styles of beer in Austria including the following:
- Märzen is light in color with a balanced flavour and lighter in hops
- Pils is a style of beer from the Czech Republic, which is more hoppy and full-strength
- Wheat beer is made using 50% wheat malt, which often has a more cloudy look
- Zwickel is an unfiltered beer, which looks cloudy because of the yeast still in the beer
Beers come in a variety of sizes in Austria, in addition to the most common 300ml and 500ml sizes and each has its own word when it comes to ordering:
- Pfiff is extra-small, similar to a caña in Spain, and measures 200ml
- Seidel or Kleines Bier measures 300ml
- Krügerl or Großes Bier is a large beer, measuring 500ml
- Mass is an extra-large beer measuring at one liter, which is more common in Bavaria and not generally served at most Austrian bars or restaurants
Just like its neighbors, Austria produces a lot of great wine. I have to admit, this surprised me. I’ve tried Hungarian wine and German wine, and we’ve toured the Luxembourg wine region of Moselle, where they make sparkling wine. But, Austrian wine? I was entirely unfamiliar before visiting. Austrian wine goes well with some of the most traditional Austrian dishes, just as well as beer does. It’s worth looking into when traveling in Austria.
Austrian Wine Experiences And Tastings
We drank incredible Austrian wine on board our Avalon cruise at each meal. We also visited the Wachau Valley, just outside of Vienna, to learn more about the history of wine production in the region. UNESCO listed the Wachau Valley as a world heritage site in 2000. There are only a little over one hundred wine producers in the valley, which is about 12 miles long and runs along the Danube.
Austria is known for both white and red wine, although the white wine is probably a little more well known. They grow international grapes like Riesling but also a local grape called Grüner Veltliner. Grüner Veltliner is a light, slightly mineral white grape that produces some very easy drinking wines – perfect for pairing with a wiener schnitzel! During our cruise, we visited a Wachau Valley winery for a tour and tasting.
As part of the more active style of cruising that Avalon offers, we also took a hike of the vineyards just outside of Vienna. At the end of the hike we enjoyed a traditional Heuriger wine dinner – with a crisp white wine and a giant meat platter at picnic tables in a wine garden.
Sturm And Most
Sturm and Most are grape-based drinks that are produced during wine fermentation. Most is almost pure grape juice. Sturm is a super young Austrian wine that is more like grape juice than wine. Sturm is normally available in the fall, just after harvest. Be careful, though. Sturm might taste like grape juice, but it does have alcohol.
This is the Austrian version of a wine spritzer. It’s normally made with Austrian white wine and sparkling water or soda water. We drank a good amount of this in Hungary before arriving in Austria. It’s quite popular in summer months, but generally is not served with ice. The American in me says it would be a lot tastier with some ice!
This type of alcohol is produced across Europe, but the Austrian version is a must-try when visiting the country. Schnaps can take many forms but in Austria, they are distilled spirits normally made from apricots, cherries, or pears. This Austrian liquor is clear, normally around 40 proof, which is drunk straight. It acts as a digestif, to be drunk after a meal.
Austrian Schnaps Museum
We visited an Austrian Schnapps museum in Vienna as one of our Avalon-hosted excursions. The Alt-Wiener Schnapsmuseum is located in the 10th District of Vienna in the Friedrich Fischer building. In addition to learning about the production of schnaps, the building is an interesting look into the history of Vienna. The entire street and neighborhood were bombed during WWII. The road where the shop is located on was the road that led all the way to Trieste, Italy, and to Fascist Italy. At the end of the war, the shop was the only building still standing.
Friedrich Fischer is a fifth-generation Austrian liquor producer. They started producing raspberry juice in the late 1800s. He bought his first still at the Paris World’s Fair and switched to alcohol. The family still owns the production today. They produce schnaps, fruit liquors, and cream liquors, which can be tasted and purchased at the museum shop.Learn more about the Alt-Wiener Schnapsmuseum in Vienna
When we made our way ashore from our Avalon ship to the schnaps museum in Vienna, I did not expect to be seeing green fairies before the end of the day. Okay, there weren’t any green fairies, but I didn’t realize that Austria has a history and tradition of absinthe. We’ve only tried absinthe once before, in Hong Kong, at the end of a long evening. I don’t really remember much about the drink (maybe it was the fairies) so Avalon provided us an opportunity to learn more.
There is a mythology around absinthe that says that people hallucinate when drinking it and possibly see green fairies. There is a long history of absinthe, but there are no worries with today’s version. It doesn’t cause people to hallucinate. Still, it’s fun to try and imagine.
How To Drink Absinthe
Absinthe is a strong liquor made predominantly from wormwood and other herbs. It has an anise flavor and a characteristic green color. It is served by heating sugar cubes over the absinthe and allowing it to drip into the glass. Then, it is watered down a bit to cool the liquor. It’s also increasingly common to make Austrian cocktails from absinthe, including an absinthe mule made with ginger beer.
Friedrich Fischer also produces absinthe and they have quite the story behind it. They produce the original Mata Hari absinthe, which is made with wormwood and other herbs including peppermint, chamomile, and licorice. Unlike other absinthe, it is not as green in color. It has a “louche” effect, where it becomes a milky green color when mixed with water. They also produce Grüne Fee, which translates to Green Fairy, which is a lot more green. We tried all the different varieties at the museum when Avalon set up a special tasting experience for us.
*This trip is a project managed by iambassador in partnership with Avalon Waterways. As always, With Husband In Tow maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. Learn more about Avalon Waterways Active and Discovery Cruises where they help you explore more while cruising.
FAQs - Austrian Drinks Culture
This was a little surprising to me. There is a sliding Austrian drinking age. The drinking age in Austria starts at 16 where teenagers are able to drink beer. At 17 they can drink beer and wine. At 18 they can drink liquor. I kind of like these rules because it allows the Austrians to learn how to drink and appreciate liquor as they age.
When clinking glasses, Austrians look each other in the eye. The easiest way to say cheers is “prost.”
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.