A variety of genever
, the canonical lubricant
for street events in Wallonia
. An otherwise undistinguished grain alcohol, vaguely related to gin
, and also produced in a range of sweetened, coloured fruit and herb flavours (I believe I did see it in celery
flavour last year , although it may just have been fennel
. Anyway.) Strength is the usual 40% abv
for the plain stuff and the more traditional flavours (e.g. lemon) down to about 25% abv for the more exotic and luridly coloured varieties (passion fruit
, usually blue, seems popular at present).
Although a determined alcoholic can always just buy the stuff in bottles, the canonical form of consumption is from small plastic shot glasses sold from street stalls, usually run by entrepreneurially inclined university students; the drinks are pre-poured and lined up enticingly on the table in pretty coloured rows, like strings of orange, pink, cyan, yellow and clear Christmas lights. These stalls spring up at more or less any excuse - town fairs, Christmas shopping, the fêtes wallonnes in September, ends of term, beginnings of term, Easter, visits by the Tour de France, whatever; the strolling passer-by is entreated (sometimes fairly enthusiastically) to pick up a 40 franc (1 euro) shot en passant, as it were.
To visitors from countries with restrictive licensing laws the prospect of informal spirits binging in public can be something of a surprise, but the Walloons being, by and large, party people (generations of fatalism about the imminent prospect of being invaded by somebody have brought a certain amount of carpe diem to what would otherwise be a staid, peasant, property-centric society), it does not seem to result in violence and mayhem or the streets being littered with passed-out drunks.