Polish vodka is respected all over the world, and not without good reason. In Poland, the drink even has its own museum. The unique Museum of Distilling in Lancut stands next to one of the country’s most modern distilleries.
For a long time, Poland has competed with Russia to be known as the motherland of the “fiery water”. The first document in which the term “vodka” appears dates from 1405.
Belvedere, Chopin, Luksusowa and Biala Dama are the purest, best-distilled elite brands, but it is also worth trying some of the flavoured Polish vodkas: Goldwasser, Krzeska, Starka, Zoladkowa Gorzka, Jarzebiak Izdebnicki or Zubrowka, drunk with apple or pear juice or maybe served with raw cucumber (a cocktail offered by the Mleczarnia club in Wroclaw). Home-made liqueurs and meads are also becoming more and more fashionable.
The Poles like to drink vodka in very effective and spectacular fashion – in shots. The most famous, Wsciekly Pies (Mad Dog), consisting of vodka, raspberry juice and a drop of Tabasco, originated in Szczecin.
Although we are famous for strong alcohol, we tend to prefer weaker drinks for every day. The oldest Polish brewery, in Lwowek Slaski, has been operating continuously since 1209 and produces an exceptional unpasteurised ale. Beer-lovers also value the unique brands available only locally, such as Noteckie, Brackie, Zywe, Rycerz and Ciechan. In some towns, such as Wroclaw, there are also mini-breweries, which brew beer on the premises.
Poland also has its vineyards. The tradition of grape-growing in Zielona Gora dates back to the 13th century, and its results can be seen during the annual September grape harvest. The town also has Poland’s only Museum of Wine.