Drinking in Lebanon: Don’t Forget the Nuts!

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

I just returned from my first trip to Lebanon, where I spent a week eating and drinking all over the country. Whether in a restaurant or someone’s home, no matter where I stopped for a drink, I was always offered a bowl or two of mixed nuts. This, I learned, was no coincidence.

“If you go somewhere in Lebanon for a drink and they don’t give you nuts, you should leave,” 961 Beer’s Mazen Hajjar advised during my visit to the microbrewery. After that, I started noticing their appearance every time I sat down for a glass of wine or a cocktail — or during coffee breaks, like the one pictured above. (The pale beverage in the middle is café blanc, a sweetened mixture of hot water and orange blossom water. So unusual and fragrant!)

The mixed nuts served in Lebanon are not simply a plain blend of roasted, salted nuts like those usually served in American bars. Instead, they might include smoked almonds, crunchy chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and other nuts and seeds with varied textures and flavors. The variations have inspired me to mix up my own mixed nuts game now that I’m back at home.

What are your favorite drinking snacks or customs from elsewhere in the world?