Britons across the country celebrate their Irish heritage on St Patrick's Day, but now they can mark the occasion like never before – with a boozy tour through North Korea.
Smiling Grape Adventure Tours, based in Cambridgeshire, will take guests to the best pubs, bars and microbreweries in Pyongyang in March 2020.
And it will also guide guests to a North Korean vineyard where they will be one of the first Western visitors to try the local wines.
Smiling Grape Adventure Tours, based in Cambridgeshire, takes guests to the best pubs, bars and microbreweries of Pyongyang in March 2020. On the photo is a beer festival in Pyongyang
Manager Matt Ellis said sanctions against the secret state had unexpectedly led to a flourishing beer scene.
& # 39; The drinking culture is great in North Korea, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; Fuel shortage due to North Korea's nuclear and missile program sanctions make it difficult for beer to be transported throughout the country, so there are many microbreweries.
& # 39; Microbreweries are everywhere – in hotels, restaurants, bowling alleys, karaoke bars and department stores. & # 39;
We go for beer: apparently the drinking culture in North Korea is well established
The tour boss was also convinced that North Koreans could enter the spirit of the occasion.
& # 39; North Koreans have many parties that look like St Patrick's Day all year round, from leaders' birthdays to important dates in the country's history, "he said.
& # 39; Just like in Ireland, North Korea uses these holidays to celebrate its cultural identity.
& # 39; I am sure that experiencing an Irish party will be fairly new to them, but the North Koreans are friendly, kind and curious people.
& # 39; When you visit, you will find that people are warm, hospitable and will ask many questions about your life. & # 39;
The most famous beer in North Korea is Taedonggang, which is named after the river that flows through Pyongyang.
And if it tastes strangely familiar, it is because the brewery was set up with equipment from the ruined Ushers brewery in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
& # 39; This is a much funky, full and bitter style than the beers of South Korea, & # 39; Mr. Ellis added.
In the meantime, the wines are often used medicinally.
Microbreweries are everywhere in North Korea, according to Smiling Grape Adventure Tours – in hotels, restaurants, bowling alleys, karaoke bars and department stores
Ellis said: & # 39; Because Western medicines are scarce and medical supplies are chronically deficient, North Koreans turn to traditional medicines as an alternative.
& # 39; There is the great looking snake wine, which has a dead snake floating in the bottle and produced to cure myopia and hair loss.
Dan Then there is the controversial tiger bone wine, which is widely available for the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis.
& # 39; I was persuaded to buy a bottle of deer antler that I gladly took home to open for a tasting.
& # 39; According to the label, it was a mixture of fermented red grapes, black tea, menthol and a few other unidentified ingredients – it certainly raised a few eyebrows while tasting. & # 39;
Mr. Ellis also reported that, despite sanctions, the bars of Pyongyang had a healthy selection of fine foreign hooch.
He said: & # 39; They seem to have little difficulty in acquiring international luxury brands of single malt whiskeys, spirits, wines and champagnes. & # 39;
Despite allowing foreign visits, North Korea has arrested tourists on several occasions and sentenced them to hard labor.
In 2015, American student Otto Warmbier was arrested and imprisoned for attempting to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel.
He fell into a coma shortly after his conviction and never died and died within a week of his return to the US in 2017.
Asked about the wisdom of taking tourists on a boozy trip to the country, Mr. Ellis said: “We will mingle with the locals in microbreweries, pubs, bars and restaurants.
& # 39; Alcohol is known to bring people together and help lower their vanguard.
& # 39; With lower inhibitions from both sides, our guests can learn a lot about their lives in this fascinating and isolated country. & # 39;
The tour leaves from China and lasts from March 15 to March 20, 2020 and costs £ 1,295.