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I love traveling by using my Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of cash! And I love earning bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points with my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to buy and try new liquors.
I use my Chase Sapphire Preferred (#1 credit card for folks new to using points for travel) because it gives you double points with no foreign transaction fees at restaurants — even overseas. Plus, here’s my favorite little trick: Most bars and nightclubs I’ve been to “code” as a restaurant. So I’m earning double Chase Ultimate Rewards points for my drinks too!
Here are my 7 favorite liquor discoveries I’ve made while traveling outside the US that I’ve also been able to find for sale here in the US.
You might know some of these, but I’d be surprised if you knew them all — unless you’re a bartender!
1 – Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Flew Me to Poland in Business Class, Where I Discovered This Tasty and Inexpensive Vodka, Zubrowka
You must try Zubrowka’s bison grass flavor. It has a refreshing unique flavor when you drink it straight and cold. And if you mix it with apple juice, it’s amazing. You’ll barely taste it, so be careful because it goes down way too easy!
2 – Right Across the Polish Southern Border Is Slovakia, Where I Discovered Double Cross — Expensive But Better Than Belvedere or Grey Goose
People who drink vodka all have an opinion about vodka. I simply go by these 3 questions. Does it taste good? Did I get a hangover? Does it burn like 1,000 fire ants wearing spiked cleats marching down my esophagus?
Double Cross isn’t cheap, but for me this is now my go-to premium smooth vodka. I don’t drink for profit, but the folks who do at Wine Enthusiast Magazine have scored Double Cross with the rare 95-point “Highly Recommended” review.
At a small but upscale local liquor store where I live I asked the man working there, “Do you have Double Cross?” He replied, “Yes. You’ll find it up there on the top shelf — where it belongs.” He was right.
The 3 cards pictured above are my
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (I was approved for my growing small business by using my social security number on the application)
- Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
Next on my Chase list:
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card (I want the big bonus and 3X categories!)
3 – Flying to the UK With Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Is Easy! And in Scotland I Discovered Dalwhinnie Scotch
This is fine Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
I’m usually a Jack Daniel’s man, although some call that bourbon. I call it pre-gaming at the house.
I also like Crown Royal whisky from the exotic lands of Canada. But to me, Dalwhinnie is better. I realize I might not be comparing apples to apples or whisky (Scottish) to whiskey (American) here but I’m just saying try Dalwhinnie. It’s good.
Also, while in a bar in Edinburgh with my dad, he made a near-fatal error. Apparently he asked for something off the menu that is a “blend.” The bartender shot back a glare like you had just insulted his mother — or worse — his football team.
You can fly to Edinburgh, Scotland, and London, England, and more by transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines. Then book your award flight using United miles!
4 – I Transferred My Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Southwest to Fly to Cancun for Free and to Hyatt for a Luxury All-Inclusive Beachfront Suite at the Hyatt Zilara. And I Met … Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
I’ve long been all-too-familiar with tequila. But I had never even heard of Mezcal. I made a friend in Mexico and he insisted I try it. Gosh, he was so relentless I finally gave into the peer pressure of him asking me one time. It’s similar to tequila but it has this great smokey flavor to it!
And you can purchase Del Maguey Vida mezcal here in the US too.
He taught me how he drinks mezcal. First, you drink the smooth, strong Mezcal. Second, you bite into the orange slice coated with sal de gusano (worm salt). Then drink your beer. Finally, you blurt out, “Guácala! Que Rico!!” That means, “Disgusting! (then when it hits you, you smile and say) “Delicious!”
5 – Ginja, a Portuguese Sour Cherry Liqueur
Getting to Lisbon was easy when I transferred my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to the United Airlines loyalty program. My 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (hint: the sign-up bonus on the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card is 80,000 points!) became 60,000 United miles. And you can use United miles to fly for free on any of their partner airlines! So I flew on their partner TAP Portugal round-trip.
Lisbon has amazing seafood and is a gritty city with lots to explore. And do NOT miss the romantic town of Sintra that’s a short train ride away… mountain-top castles… breathtaking stuff.
You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United to fly to Portugal for free when you have any of these Chase credit cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (I’ve had this fantastic credit card for over 5 years)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® (great pick for folks who know they’ll travel a lot. Everyone on our team has either the Preferred or Reserve.)
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card (best business credit card. I want to get this one next for the huge bonus!)
I’ve seen versions of Ginja sold in places like Total Wine. Enjoy!
6 – “But Why Is the Rum Gone?” Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points I’ve Flown to the Dominican Republic to Find the Rum
You can fly to the beautiful beaches of Punta Cana and the bustling city of Santo Domingo with airlines like Southwest and JetBlue. Both partner with Chase, so you can transfer your points to those programs for free flights. And of course with Southwest you always get 2 free checked bags per passenger.
On my last trip to the Dominican I looked for new rums to try in the supermarkets because rum was relatively cheap. Pour yourself Brugal XV and Brugal Anejo Superior. I like these a lot.
I also tried Barcelo. Like most brands it has high-end and low-end versions. I only experienced the cheap but good stuff — Barcelo Rum Anejo. I was told to mix it with orange juice. Yum. Perfect for a hot island day.
And of course you know about all the frosty and fruity drinks you can make with rum. And Barcelo is a good rum for that.
Apparently, there is something known as the 3 B’s in Dominican rum: Brugal, Barcelo, and Bermudez. I haven’t had that last one so it looks like I’ll have to go back!
Admittedly, none of these are replacing my favorite dark rum, Kraken (black spiced rum from Trinidad and Tobago) but I’m happy to have found them.
7 – Salmiakki Koskenkorva – A crazy Salty Licorice Vodka from Finland
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United to fly on a partner airline to Finland. But in this case, I found it easier and more convenient to book a relatively cheap, non-stop flight using Chase Ultimate Rewards points on the Chase travel site. Chase points got me an easy discount! ex. 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth $625 towards flights instead of using them for $500 cash back.
Because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each when you buy flights in their portal with the
And with the
Chase Sapphire Reserve® your points are worth 1.5 cents.
Salmiakki Koskenkorva is like nothing I’ve ever tasted. A bartender in Helsinki told me this flavor was especially popular there in the 1990s. I shared this stuff with friends and it elicits strong reactions. Haha. It seems people love it or hate it. I love the salty sweetness and the vodka itself didn’t give me a hangover.
Some might consider it kind of a dessert vodka to drink in Finland after you’ve had your Lihapullat muusilla ja puolukkahillolla — yes those are words in Finnish — it’s an absolutely delicious and comforting meal of meatballs with warm mashed potatoes and tart lingonberry jam.
I’m very grateful that it’s possible to travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve met amazing local liquors — just really warm and inviting spirits.
Tell me your favorite liquors from around the world that I need to try next!