12 Classic Swiss Drinks You Need to Try

Which Swiss drinks are your favorites? There are so many to choose from! Here’s my list of 12 drinks — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options — that I think you should try in Switzerland. How many have you already tasted?

Non-Alcoholic Swiss Drinks

1. Vivi Kola

Made with 100% all-natural ingredients, an ice-cold Vivi Kola tastes particulary refreshing in the summer. The story of this Swiss cola drink starts in 1930s, but after production ceased in the 1980s, it was re-launched in 2010.

vivi kola
An ice cold bottle of Vivi Kola tastes especially good in the summertime.

2. Pepita

Considered one of the first Swiss soft drinks, a bottle of Pepita features a parrot logo on its label. Eptinger first introduced a grapefruit soda in 1942. Located in the northwest corner of Switzerland, this company initially named it Sissa Grapefruit, after the town where it was made: Sissach, Switzerland. Its name later changed to Pepita, which means “seed” (a.k.a. “pip”) or “nugget” in Spanish.

Pepita, one of Switzerland’s first soft drinks.

3. Rivella

This just might be Switzerland’s favorite drink. Rivella comes in multiple flavors and contains a unique ingredient – whey. Milk serum, or whey, is a by-product of the cheesemaking process. With over 450 varieties of cheese in Switzerland, Rivella makes good use of this leftover ingredient. It also contains a secret mixture of fruit and herbal extracts.

Rivella, one of Switzerland’s most popular soft drinks.

4. Ovomaltine

Ovomaltine (also known as Ovaltine) is a Swiss powdered drink fortified with vitamins that was first introduced in 1904. Developed by Dr. Albert Wander, it combines the flavors of malt and chocolate. In comparison to some of the other beverages on my list, Ovomaltine has gained popularity beyond Switzerland’s borders, with availability in over 100 countries. I like using the powdered drink mix to flavor madeleines for a quick and easy afternoon snack.

Ovomaltine, a childhood favorite in Switzerland. Photo credit: Wander AG.

5. Elmer Citro

The story of Elmer Citro starts in 1927 in Elm, Switzerland, within the canton of Glarus. Created by Oskar Schärli, this carbonated drink contains a lemon syrup with natural aromas. In 2012, the Elmer Citro Quellenweg opened in Elm. Follow this circular trail to learn about the history of this Swiss lemon-flavored soda with mineral spring water.

elmer citro
Elmer Citro originated in the Swiss canton of Glarus.

Alcoholic Swiss Drinks

6. Absinthe

This potent alcoholic beverage, also known as the “green fairy,” is traditionally mixed with water. To be considered a true absinthe, it should have four key ingredients: small wormwood, large wormwood, fennel and green anise. One method for serving it involves using a special fountain. After you add some absinthe to a glass, you lay a slotted spoon over it with a cube of sugar on top. As you add the water slowly into the glass from the fountain, the cube of sugar dissolves and sweetens the bitter drink. One of my favorite ways to enjoy absinthe is in a Bundt cake.

An absinthe foundation at the Maison de l’Absinthe in Môtiers, Switzerland.

7. Appenzeller Alpenbitter

Alpenbitter in Switzerland generally refers to a dark liqueur seasoned with herbs that has an alcohol content of about 30 percent. There are different types and brands of Swiss Alpenbitter, but the one from the Appenzell region is arguably the most famous. Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse reports that it’s sometimes referred to as the Swiss national drink. Want to learn more? Check out my article with 10 facts about alpenbitter.

appenzeller alpenbitter
Switzerland’s national drink? Appenzeller Alpenbitter on the rocks.

8. Iva

Made from flowers of the Iva plant (musk yarrow), this lightly sweetened spirit has a mild floral flavor. To make it, you first macerate these flowers in alcohol, typically a brandy distilled from wine. This drink’s color ranges from clear to green to a light brown. Producers will add sugar to balance the bitter flavor of the Iva blossoms. A specialty of Graubünden, its history there dates back to at least the late 18th century.

A lightly floral digestif from the canton of Graubünden.

9. Nocino

Nocino is a walnut-flavored liqueur with a dark brown hue. A bottle of this drink makes an excellent food souvenir or gift from Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton, Ticino. Its represents the diminutive of noce (walnut in Italian), and its flavor comes from macerated green walnuts. Grappa, a brandy made from grapes, serves as its base ingredient. Picked early in the season, sliced walnuts still in their husks soak in the grappa to develop its flavor.

Nocino, a walnut-flavored liqueur with a dark brown hue.

10. Oeil-de-Perdrix

In the French-speaking regions of Switzerland, you can discover a rosé wine known as Oeil-de-Perdrix (“eye of the patridge”). Neuchâtel is the Swiss canton of origin for Oeil-de-Perdrix, but today it’s also made in the cantons of Vaud or Valais, for example. The earliest evidence of this wine dates back to 1861, when a local encaveur in Neuchâtel named Louis Bovet printed a label with the name “Oeil-de-Perdrix” on it. Winemakers use Pinot Noir grapes to make this wine. Unlike a bottle of Pinot Noir, the grapes used to make this Swiss rosé have a shorter maceration period, ranging from approximately 15 to 24 hours. 

Oeil-de-Perdrix at the Hôtel Palafitte in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

11. Röteli

When you think of a Swiss cherry liqueur, the clear brandy known as Kirsch may come to mind. The canton of Graubünden, however, has another cherry liqueur with a brilliant red color known as Röteli. There are at least two types of this alcoholic beverage: the Bündner and Churer versions. Bündner Röteli is typically made with dried cherries, while the one from Chur is generally made with fresh cherries.

Churer Röteli, a cherry liqueur from Chur, Switzerland.

12. Bitter des Diablerets

An herbal aperitif from the Swiss canton of Vaud, Bitter des Diablerets has a history that spans back to the late 19th century. Today, the company that makes this drink describes it as “the only national aperitif of French-speaking origin.” The most typical ways to enjoy it are: (1) on its own, (2) with ice or (3) mixed with mineral water.

bitter des diablerets
Bitter des Diablerets mixed with Coke = a “Surf” cocktail.

What’s your favorite Swiss drink? Perhaps you love the Swiss cult classic: lemon- or peach-flavored ice tea from Migros? What’s missing from my list? I always enjoy hearing your recommendations. If you have any information to share, please leave a comment below or send me an email. Thanks!

8 replies »

  1. Wonderful article. I have to look for some of the alcoholic drinks in the US. I am pretty sure the soft drinks besides ovaltine are not here. Thank you.

    • Great article Heddi. My fave growing up was always Sinalco! And you can get some of these soft drinks and other Swiss goodies here in the US online at swissfavorites.

      • Thanks, Karin!! My kids like Sinalco too. It’s originally from Germany, though. 😉 I will have to share that website with others next time I get questions about where to find these products in the US. Many thanks!

  2. Hile staying in Bonstetten outside Zurich i came upon a farm shop featuring award winning Aronia liqueur and whiskey which is quite intriguing. Apparently it is made using techniques handed down in family recipes. Worth a visit. https://maisonsol.ch/

    • Alexander, You are exactly right! I have a bottle of this in my kitchen cupboard. Perhaps I need a part II to this article. 🙂 Thanks for your feedback! -Heddi

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