If you are paying a visit to a Pole, forget bringing the wine with you. Make wódka or polish vodka your present of choice and expect an unforgettable evening!
What’s So Special About Polish Vodka?
You know how they say: when in Rome…? When in Rome, you drink wine. When in Greece, you should opt for Ouzo. But when in Poland - there is vodka!
If you yourself come from Poland, or you have Polish friends, then you are most likely have already come across wódka at different gatherings. Used when celebrating and when battling sadness, vodka makes a great companion if drank wisely.
This clear, distilled alcoholic beverage can be found in different Slavic countries across Europe. Still, Polish and Russian vodka are the most known of all. Also, from different types of alcoholic beverages, wódka is one of the strongest one. How strong? The kind that will make your eyes tear up when you try it for the first time.
In times of sadness and in times of joy - it’s vodka that Polish people enjoy!
The Brief History of Vodka
Vodka,wódka,wódeczka…It’s interesting to note that the name vodka is actually a diminutive from the Slavic word for water, meaning little water. It was first used in 1405 in court documents, but during these times (and sometimes nowadays, too) it is also called gorzałkafrom the word to burn. Some say that its origins go back as far as the 8th Century. During that time, Arab scholars created the art of the distillation process. Whatever the truth, first mentions date back from the Middle Ages, when vodka was used as a medicine.
In the 16th Century, vodka is mentioned in a medical manual On Herbs and Their Potency by Stefan Falimierz. Unofficially, people also began drinking vodka for pleasure. The oldest Polish vodka called Żubrówka has been in production since those times. The oldest Polish large distillery known as J.A. Baczewski was started in 1782 in the Wybranówka village. Today, there even is a Museum of Vodka in Poland. Although it was first made regularly in rural households, it is illegal to make vodka at home nowadays, both in the USA and in Poland.
Composed mostly of water and ethanol, vodka is usually made by distilling the liquid from fermented cereal grains or potatoes. These two types of food were the basic things of Polish cuisine, going back hundreds of years and the times of long, cold winters. Among grain vodkas, those made from rye and wheat are considered superior. Vodka was known to warm you up before or after field work, unwind you in times of hardship or help you celebrate the good times. Also, it was, and sometimes still is used as a medicine to fight fever and disinfect wounds, which is why a lot of households always have a bottle of wódkaat home.
How to Drink Vodka?
For an alcoholic beverage to enter the category of vodka, it must consist of an alcohol minimum of 37.5% in the European Union, or 40% in the United States. It really is a strong drink, that is usually drank as a shot, at room temperature, without any mixing with water, ice or other beverages. Of course, you can find vodka chilled, flavoured, as well and mixed with juices or as a cocktail ingredient, but when it comes to drinking pure wódka - just pour some into a shot glass, cling it with your companion, say cheers - and swallow it all!
Polish Vodka Brands
Being one of the most common alcoholic beverages in Poland, there are numerous Polish vodka brands to choose from. Although, today, some are held by international companies, the following ones do make sure that the tradicional recipes, as well as the whole procedure of creating Polish vodka, remains untouched. Let’s have a look at the list of the most-known ones - so well known, they usually don’t need the noun vodka to be present anywhere near their names!
The classic Wyborowa (meaning of choice) is a pure grain vodka type, considered to be the most famous of all Polish vodka brands, today owned by Pernod Ricard. In 1927 it became the first international trademark vodka. Often seen in the media, in public, in private… It’s so well-loved that Wyborowa is sometimes even used as a synonym for wódka. Its bottle has a very unique shape. Price-wise, it is quite approachable.
- Żołądkowa Gorzka
This bitter stomach vodka as the name translates, is another classical brand of Polish vodka. It is made from a recipe dating back to the 19th Century, but the brand is no longer able to call itself wódka due to the decreased percentage of alcohol. Originally, it has been brewed from herbs.
This brand of vodka, ranking number three in the whole world, is flavored with bison grass that can be found in Białowieża forest. There are different types of flavoured vodka coming from this brand, which can be found on as many as 80 markets around the world, so do take a look at it and explore!
The name of this brand of potato vodka translates as luxurious, due to its rich taste. It has been around since 1928, being one of the oldest Polish vodka brands.
This type of premium vodka brand bears the name of the famous Polish composer. It doesn’t have that long of a tradition compared to others - as it’s been present on the market since 1993, but it holds the place of one of the most expensive vodkas.
Other found vodka brands in Poland and internationally that you are most likely to come across are: Sobieski Vodka, Belvedere, Lubelska, and many more. Some are named by famous people, some are named by famous places - even though vodka as a beverage is more likely to be known by its own name. That’s just the way it is.
So, next time you are hosting a party, you can prepare your bar with quality wódka. Impress your guests about the knowledge on vodka in Poland. And then - na zdrowie!