They say that “hunger is just a thirst in disguise”. So what do Slavs prefer to drink when they´re hungry? Check this list of 7 traditional Slavic alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
…or Medovina, Midus, Medovec and some others create large family of Slavic alcoholic drinks based on honey. Slavs have been preparing these tasty drinks since the Pagan times. It was often used during different sorts of rituals, but could be also found in most households as the common drink of choice (long before wine and beer took its place…). These days honey drinks are enjoyed mostly in the winter months when they are being sold on Christmas street markets all around Slavic Europe. You can also buy it in specialized “Honey shops” which can be found mostly in Russia.
Nicknamed “Russian cola”, this popular non-alcoholic beverage has history as old and turbulent as its closest relative – beer. Legend says it was born by an accident, when a bag of grain got wet and started fermenting. Contemporary home kvas is made with special starter called zakvaska. Kvas is widely spread among many Slavic nations and it has been recently revived even in some modified versions by major drinks manufacturers – such as Czech beer producer Staropramen, which sells similar product under the name “Sládkova limonáda” (Brewer´s lemonade). If you´ve never tasted kvas, here is a saying that might help you imagine how good it is: “”Bad kvas is better than good water.”
Of course, this is a must have on every possible list of Slavis drinks! Vodka became much more than just a favorite Slavic drink. It´s a cultural symbol even Hollywood filmmakers often turn to when they want to emphasize Slavic characters in their films. The cult of this clear strong spirit was born back in 14th century and though it has deep tradition in most Slavic (and some non-Slavic) cultures, it´s mostly seen as Russian by the outside world. There´s even a study claiming Russians have specific genes that allow them to drink more vodka than other nations! Also, keep in mind that thanks to its clearness, vodka is much safer to drink than whiskey or brandy…
Talking about safeness…Well, if you´re fan of home-made meals and have some guts to be challenged, you can always try your luck with Slavic home-made brews 🙂 . They are known to be rough, astronomically strong and unpredictably intoxicating. Word “samogon”, or “samogonka” is being used mostly in Eastern Slavic states, but amateur distilleries have strong tradition in each of Slavic nations. While the motivation to produce one´s own alcohol might have been mostly practical and economical in the past, today, it´s mostly a matter of pride. When Slav offers you his samogon, it´s like a statement of his hospitality. Either way, little precaution is always in place as cases of serious health effects or even death caused by botched home spirits are documented quite often…
Also known as Žinčice or Žentyca, this drink is probably the least appealing on our list because it is, in fact, a by-product of sheep milk fermentation. But the truth is this drink should be much more popular due to its healthiness than its taste, as it used to be traditional Slovak, Czech and Polish medicine for ill stomach and lung diseases in the past. Žinčica was commonly drank from wooden glass called “črpák” and made a perfect combination with the plate of Bryndzové halušky. Some other variations of Slavic fermented milk drinks include kefir and ryazhenka.
Yet another typically Slavic drink that can be enjoyed even before you turn 18! (Yes, there´s not many of them…) Kompot is tasty, sweet and fruity variation of non-alcoholic beverage that can be drank either cold or hot. This variability makes it popular all over the year as it can refresh you in the summer and warm you up during the winter. Obtained by slowly cooking wide range of fruits, this drink was spread around the Slavic world mostly in the past, when there were no bottled juices and soft drinks available. Today it is arguably most popular in Poland. In addition to drink, Kompot can also serve as a practical preservative for fruit, which can be eaten alone, or as a part of some tasty cake. Yummy!
The name might slightly vary from state to state but this drink is probably among the least variable ones from our list. This fruit brandy is made exclusively from tasty ripe plums and maintains typical smell and taste of this fruit and its pit. There are many ways to recognize good slivovitz. When poured in the glass, it should produce thin chain of bubbles and you can tell a lot about its quality even by rubbing it between your thumb and index finger! Slivovitz is most popular in Central Europe but its tradition is very strong in Balkan countries, as well.