There's much more to Polish drink than just vodka! Historically mead and beer were first. Today all are important with the addition of local specialities like sliwowica (slivovitz). And there's the whole unexplored world of nalewkas!
Everyone has heard about Polish vodka but not many people seem to know about Polish nalewka. And that is very wrong because nalewka is THE Polish speciality, very typical of the country's tradition.
What is then nalewka? Polish Nalewka is an alcoholic drink of about 40-50% alcohol by volume, which has a natural flavor, usually herbal or fruity. The flavor is derived by maceration of herbs, fruits or spices which are placed in alcohol. Other substances, e.g. sugar, honey or syrup are often used too.
Polish nalewka 'Ziolowa'
Drinking a well-prepared nalewka is an awesome experience, comparable with tasting a good wine.
It is so thanks to natural well-balanced fragrances which are the soul of the drink. Ingredients which lend their flavors to Polish nalewkas are among others: black current, cherries, walnut, sloeberries or strawberry. But there are countless other things you can make nalewka with. Coffee or wormwood, apricots or pear - you name it.
Sloeberry nalewka 'Tarninowka'
Although the idea behind the drink is pretty simple, the process of making a great nalewka may be quite complex. In the past nalewkas were made by noble families and each house used to have its own recipe which was a close guarded secret.
Today getting a high quality nalewka is not so easy. The tradition has almost completely been lost during the communist rule. The name of the drink has been abused for low quality industrial products, which still haunt the market and which should be avoided. Fortunately there are strong signs of revival. There are a few producers who carefully try to reestablish presence of old-times style nalewkas in the market. And besides everyone can have a try at finding their own formula for a memorable nalewka.
Polish nalewka 'Dereniowa'
Now you may wonder what the very word "nalewka" means. It is often translated as "infusion" and it seems right. (The Wikipedia suggests "assemblage", but in our opinion it's less correct.) But it's best to call nalewka simply... nalewka! All those "infusions", "tinctures", and so on sound way too technical. And in Polish "nalewka" sounds friendly and informal. Moreover - the name is used specifically for this great drink! And by the way, it's pronounced "nah-lef-kah"
How to say 'Nalewka' in Polish? Click the green button below
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