The food of Poland is well-known for being comforting and wholesome, and the country is also well-known for producing a large variety of vodka of the highest quality, which pairs very well with the country’s delectable meat dishes. Poland, despite its reputation as a real master in the creation of powerful alcoholic drinks, is home to a great deal more than just sausage and spirit.
Discover the one-of-a-kind legacy of this Slavic culture by reading on to learn more about traditional Polish beverages that have a long and illustrious history, some of which date back to the early mediaeval period.
Beverages that do not include alcohol:
1. Kvass (Kwas Chlebowy)
It is not a coincidence that kvass, or kwas chlebowy, as it is more often known in Poland, ranks first on the list of drinks that are typically consumed in Poland. This one-of-a-kind alcoholic beverage, which is produced from fermented black rye bread, has its roots entirely in Slavic culture. It was widely used as a common beverage during mediaeval times in the nations of Eastern Europe.
Kvass is murky to look at, brown in colour and has a flavour that is equal parts sweet and sour. Because it has a relatively low alcohol concentration (usually less than 1%), it is the ideal drink for satisfying your thirst on a hot summer day or for easing the symptoms of a hangover.
Kvass is a natural drink that is created with just three components: sugar, water, and natural yeast. Its simplicity and naturalness make it a great choice for everybody.
2. Kompot (Fruit Juice)
Introducing kompot, a classic non-alcoholic fruit drink popular in Eastern Europe. Kompot is produced by cooking fruit and sugar together in boiling water, then infusing the liquid with the flavours of the cooked fruit.
Berries, including blackberries, cherries, raspberries, and strawberries, are often used in the preparation of kompot. However, since it is often made using fresh fruits that are in season, practically any combination of ingredients may be used.
The fermentation process known as kompot was first developed as a method for preserving fruit, and the earliest mention of the drink in written history is from the 15th century. Because of the high sugar content, the fruit can be preserved for a considerable amount of time, which results in an abundant supply of fruit despite the protracted and severe winters.
3. Kompot z Suszu (Dry Fruit Juice)
This Polish non-alcoholic beverage is a seasonal take on the classic summertime beverage known simply as kompot. It is made from regional fruits that are gathered in the late summer and early fall, then sun-dried and carefully kept away until the winter. On the other hand, in contrast to summer kompot, this one could also include unusual spices like ginger or clove.
In its most basic form, kompot z suszu resembles a fruit soup in that it has a wide variety of regional fruits that float on the surface (plums, apples, pears, etc.). As a dessert, it is often served warm in glasses, especially when the weather is chilly.
The fact that dry fruit juice is a traditional Polish Christmas beverage and an absolute need for each Christmas Eve meal is perhaps the single most significant aspect of this beverage. However, since there is such a diverse range of spices available, the flavour varies greatly from home to home.
4. Oranżada (Orange-flavored Soda)
The orange-flavoured carbonated soft drink known as Granada has its origins in Poland. When carbonated orange soft beverages comprised of water, sugar, and orange syrup were first brought to the United States from France in the 18th century, the phrase “orange soda” was coined.
On the other hand, oranada in its modern form is a genuine holdover from the time of communism. Although it is not as successful as Western Fanta, it is nevertheless fairly popular, and the majority of its popularity stems from nostalgic reasons.
5. Zsiadłe Mleko (Soured Milk)
Traditional Polish cuisine has a wide variety of delicious beverages, including light and tangy soured milk. Raw milk naturally becomes more acidic over time owing to the bacteria that are present in the milk, which leads to the production of this byproduct via the process of bacterial fermentation. Because of the proliferation of these cultures throughout, the milk becomes more acidic as a result of the release of lactic acid, and it finally solidifies as a curd.
The use of soured milk as a foundation for several summertime recipes is highly recommended. It is often served over new potatoes prepared with melted butter and dill. In addition, it is delicious when combined with seasonal fruits like strawberries in a milkshake. This combination is highly recommended.
Lactose, which is found in raw milk, is more easily accepted by the body after it has been fermented because the lactose in fermented milk has been broken down by bacteria.
True devotees of this delightful and nutritious milk drink may be found all throughout Poland. After Russia, Poland is the country that produces the second most kefir in the world.
What precisely is kefir? A fermented, skimmed, and pasteurised milk product is used to make this tangy and delicious beverage. Kefir of sufficient quality may be thought of as a natural probiotic since it inhibits the growth of bacteria that are detrimental to the digestive system. In addition to assisting in the digestion of protein and calcium, it keeps the body’s metabolic processes in check. In addition to this, it provides an abundant source of many vitamins and minerals. In addition to this, it brings down levels of cholesterol and blood pressure!
Kefir is an excellent beverage to have with traditional Polish summer dinners like young potatoes seasoned with dill or buckwheat groats. Kefir may be purchased in bottles made of plastic, cartons, or the more conventional glass containers, much like buttermilk and soured milk.
Have you been up all night sampling Polish vodkas? The fact that kefir might be an effective remedy for hangovers is certainly welcome news.
7. Maślanka (Buttermilk)
Ma’lanka, which translates to “buttermilk” in Polish, is a delicious and delightful beverage that is made by fermenting milk into a substance similar to kefir or spoiled milk.
It has a flavour that is a little sour, but it is also slightly sweet. Since of this, it may be drunk on its own or used in smoothies as an all-natural lavender because it can be ingested either way.
The creation of traditional buttermilk begins with the removal of butterfat from buttered cream. However, despite having milk in its name, buttermilk does not really contain any milk at all. Buttermilk, despite its velvety and opulent consistency, has a relatively low amount of fat, making it an excellent product that can be enjoyed even while following a diet.
Also, I beg you not to purchase flavoured buttermilk since these products often include an excessive quantity of sugar. If you want a drink with a fruity flavour, all you have to do is add the fruit on your own and mix it.
Beverages with less alcohol:
8. Cydr (Cider)
The majority of apples grown in the European Union are grown in Poland. Poland’s annual apple production of 3 million tonnes is equivalent to Spain’s annual output of grapes, making Poland the world’s largest producer of apples. It should come as no surprise that this refreshing alcoholic beverage, which is prepared by fermenting apple juice, is a common addition to many Polish celebrations.
The alcohol level in Polish cider may range anywhere from 3% to 5%.
Sparkling cider may be made in two ways: either by naturally containing bubbles or by being artificially carbonated. Yet, there is also a kind of cider that is still.
In order for it to be labelled as cider under Polish law, the apple juice content of cider made in Poland has to be at least 90 per cent pure apple juice (and not concentrate) at the very least.
Because fresh apples are used in the production of cider, the flavour of the beverage might shift from one year to the next. This is because no two apples have the same flavour profile.
Unexpectedly, Poland is one of the major producers of beer in the world. After Germany and the UK, it comes up at a respectable third position in terms of output within the EU. The extensive history of brewing traditions in Poland is responsible for the exceptional quality of the country’s beer. Because of its favourable temperature and plenty of spring waters, Poland has long been recognised as an ideal location for the cultivation of cereal crops and hops.
As a result of monks taking up making beer throughout the Middle Ages, production increased significantly. The first documentation of breweries in Poland dates back to the 14th century and covers the cities of Kalisz, Putusk, and Gdansk. Lwówek Brewery has the distinction of being Poland’s oldest brewery, having been established in 1209.
The previous decade was marked by discernible shifts in consumer preferences, a resurgence of customs, and a return to tried-and-true recipes. As a consequence of this, there has been a rise in the number of small-scale, family-owned brewers as well as speciality bars that serve beer from many taps. These are known as multi-taps, and they provide customers with new beers on a daily basis. They allow customers to sample dozens of different draught beers in a single location.
An interesting tidbit is that the term piwo, which means beer, is one of the earliest Polish words. It was established on the basis of a pre-Slavic language that meant “to drink.” Even throughout the Middle Ages, the term “beer” referred to a broad category of beverages, including everything that could be consumed by drinking. This indicates that beer must have been a common beverage as far back as the 14th century.
Beverages containing alcohol:
10. Miód Pitney (Traditional Polish Mead)
Honey is fermented into mead, which is thus considered to be one of the most traditional types of alcoholic beverages in Poland. In times past, liquids or herbs were included with the mixture in order to improve its flavour; however, this practice is no longer followed.
Since the middle ages, Poland has been the country’s primary producer of this golden beverage. It is well known that Poles produced mead of particularly high quality; yet, this mead was only consumed in the royal court and manors; it was not necessarily consumed on a regular basis.
It was a luxury and expensive alcohol that was in great demand until the end of the 18th century when it was surpassed in popularity by vodka, which could be produced for less money and required less effort.
Because of the varying degrees of watering down, meads may range widely in terms of their alcohol content as well as their degree of sweetness. There are five primary varieties of mead, and they are as follows: pótorak (1.5), dwójniak (2), trójniak (3), czwórniak (4), and pita (5). The strength of the honey flavour and the amount of alcohol in each successive form decrease.
A fun fact about honey is that the more honey it contains, the longer it needs to mature. The maturation process for Trojniak might take as long as 8–10 years!
11. Wódka (Vodka)
Poland has a well-deserved reputation for producing some of the world’s finest vodkas, and the country has reached the pinnacle of technical skill in this area.
Did Poles develop vodka? To tell you the truth, this is a debate that will never be resolved. However, the term “vodka” did not appear in writing form for the first time until about the year 1400, when it was included in the Akta Grodzkie recorder of deeds. Therefore, Poland in the 15th century was the first country to make a public mention of the name “vodka.”
There are many various kinds of vodka, just as there are many different kinds of wines, beers, and whiskeys. The vast majority of Polish vodkas are referred to be “clear.”
Poland is home to a number of exquisitely crafted premium vodkas that come highly recommended by vodka experts. The brands Belvedere, Baczewski, Luksusowa, Pan Tadeusz, Wyborowa, and Chopin are considered to be the most prestigious examples of clear Polish vodka.
In Poland, vodka is customarily consumed in a single gulp after being served very chilly or even frozen. In addition to that, it needs to be served with zagryska, which is a one-bite vodka snack. Some examples of zagryska include salted herring, pickled mushrooms, pickled gherkins, meat jelly (which is sometimes referred to on the menu as jellyfish), and other similar items. All are intensely flavoured so that they can compete with the overpowering flavour of the vodka.
It is important to note that a shot of vodka is the ideal accompaniment to celebratory dinners since it aids in the digestion of the hearty, comforting food that is traditional in Poland.
According to Shanken’s IMPACT magazine, ubrówka was the most popular Polish vodka brand in 2019 and the third most popular vodka brand in the whole globe! Produced in Poland since the 16th century and also known as Bison Grass Vodka, this spirit is distilled from the grass of bison. It has become renowned due to the fact that each bottle contains a blade of grass that is native to the ancient Biaowiea Forest. ubrówka has a hint of yellow in it, smells somewhat like freshly cut hay, and has a flavour that is just slightly flowery.
It is possible to have ubrówka on its own, but the beverage known as szarlotka, which is a delightful combination of ubrówka and apple juice, is the most typical preparation (apple pie).
13. Żołądkowa Gorzka
An exact translation of odkowa Gorka is “bitter stomach vodka,” which is not unexpected given the widespread belief that this one-of-a-kind beverage has a wide variety of therapeutic benefits, particularly for the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions.
Despite its name, odkowa Gorka has a surprising amount of sweetness and just a tinge of bitterness in its flavour. Its gorgeous amber hue, spicy scent, and complex flavour are all things that make it a treat to see. Incredible in its deliciousness!
A historic Polish recipe dating back to the 17th century is used to create Krupnik, a traditional liqueur that is both sweet and spicy. In its typical form, it may contain as much as forty per cent alcohol, which is a very high percentage for a herbal liqueur.
Honey, a variety of spices, and as many as fifty different types of herbs are used in the preparation of traditional krupnik.
This singular alcoholic beverage is often consumed on its alone, either warm or chilled, according to personal preference. After going sledging on a cold winter day or taking a stroll in the rain in the fall, a cup of hot krupnik is an excellent way to re-warm your body and calm your senses with its fragrant aromas.
15. Nalewka (Polish Fruit Vodka)
Extracts of fruit, spices, and herbs are steeped in alcohol to make the Polish liqueurs known as nalewka. The typical Polish fruit vodka has an alcohol content of around forty per cent, the same as regular vodka. Nalewka, on the other hand, is considered by many Poles to have a superior flavour and is often the pride of the family when it is cooked at home.
The name of the majority of nalewkas is derived from the primary component of the dish. For example, we have plum nalewka, cherry nalewka, and lemon nalewka, amongst others. In days gone by, family recipes were often guarded as closely guarded secrets, and they were typically only revealed to the eldest child after the death of the father.
Traditionally, Polish fruit liqueurs are served in small glasses, and they are often paired with spicy, meaty, and other foods that are intended to warm the stomach.
16. Śliwowica (Polish plum brandy)
A highly fragrant, classic, and incredibly potent plum brandy, liwowica is made from an older kind of plum and is known for its great strength. It has a reputation for having a high alcohol level, which is over 70%, so be cautious when you drink it!
There is a school of thought that holds that liwowica originated in the far southwestern part of Poland and that it has been made in the Polish highlands ever since the 16th century. They brought the recipe with them when they moved farther north, and before long, this very potent drink was recognised as a national treasure in Poland.
In most instances, it is presented in its unadulterated form, either chilled or at room temperature, and devoid of any additional components.
There is a common misunderstanding that liquorice is the same as plum liquor. However, traditional liquorice is not a liquor but rather a highly potent spirit. The Polish heritage of the name “liquorice” is officially recognised.
What more can we possibly discuss? Don’t be shy about coming to Poland, raising a glass, and wishing each other “Na zdrowie!” since the country has a vast variety of delectable alcoholic beverages that are appropriate for almost every event you can imagine.