drink in poland

21 Jul

Since alcohol and beverages make up part and parcel of a Tefl teacher/ writer’s life, there’s room to discuss drink in Poland. Some people labour under the illusion that it’s all vodka. It’s true they have Chopin Vodka and Pan Tadeusz vodka. They also have a Bison-grass vodka called Zubrowka, which they often mix with apple juice. (Zubr is the Polish name for the water bison which they have saved from extinction by turning a swathe of the Eastern Part beyond Bialystok into a national park. Let’s face it, these water bison are not exactly cuddly furry animals. They’re hairy and quite ugly, but they’re still precious.) Enough of vodka, the beer they have in Poland is good, though not as good as Czech beer. Here are some good ones: Zywiec, Warka, Lech and Tyskie. Not to mention the ‘real’ stuff such as Zloty Lwy and Zycie. They’re all very strong compared to the fizzy stuff they call lager in Britain. But I love the new microbrewery they have opened in my part of Poland. This place overlooking the canal district produce very nice beer. When I was last there a member of the local football team (very bad – and worse fans than the players) was there surrounded by a coterie of stunning supermodels, only they weren’t supermodels, they were  local girls-next-door. Nothing happened, as celebrities, even fifth-rate ones, are notoriously boring people, unless you’re interested in them. I think a) water bison and b) those girls-next-door are more interesting.

Where was I? Oh yes, drinking in Poland. Well now, the expanding middle class in Poland has only recently really discovered wine, unless you’re a tramp, in which case the wine you like is not real wine, it’s cheap wine which is actually made in Poland and tastes like nothing on earth except the earth itself. Back to everybody else. They like their wine ‘medium dry’ (sweet in my terms), medium sweet (very sweet), or sweet (very, very, very sweet). There are  thankfully  enough people who like dry wine in Poland for this now to be on the increase, though still only very widely available in the supermarkets Piotr and Pawel,  Alma, and assorted quality offies. Guess what is also on the increase in Poland. Puff pastry. So now you can make steak and ale pies, what’s more with British bitter (which you can, amazingly, get here).

I remember when I was living in Prague how tiny things used to amaze me, how one day your local supermarket would have only rapeseed oil, and then next week, suddenly a plethora of new oils, including olive oil on the shelves. Poland has been much the same but now what often happens is they run out of some zippy new product and then they take months to replace it. Puff Pastry has not yet suffered this fate.

The only Polish cocktail I care to know is called Mad Dog, and it’s lethal. They do a very nice blackberry/blueberry wine too, and it’s not stuff the winos on the streets drink.


5 Responses to “drink in poland”

  1. Karl August 7, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    A mention of regional beers like Piast, Bossman and all the others. It’s surprising that every city has its own popular beer – may be true in the UK with some ales but not for lager. And who can forget Polish “champagne” – or sparkling Russian wine. Maybe nowadays this has been replaced with the real stuff but the price of the Russian stuff always meant you felt able to drink more come new year. Keep up the good work Dan!

    • makrotantalo November 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

      Yes, I remember the Russian stuff, drinking it on a warm May Day in the main green area outside of the city on a picnic consisting of cheese dips, boiled eggs and the bubbly. It was rather good.

  2. Michael w tarnowie :) September 16, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Is drinking outside the mainstream an act of subversion? One of the local bars here stocks regional and ‘niepasterizowany’ brews. He in turn buys them from a chain of 5 shops around and outside the city called Al Capone. They also sell some lovely Estonian ciders. In Krakow, in the ‘hip’ Kazimierz district, one bar dedicated to these of deliciousness is from a Godfather-themed pub called Omerta. Long may it continue.

    Regarding wines, there are some real bargains to be had from Biedronka. Portuguese reds: Alentejo, Dao, Douro etc and this summer delicious vinho verde, all available from 8-12zl a bottle.
    And who’s to say Polish wines won’t be up there in the future. The government introduced tax breaks for new wine producers a few years back. If my older siblings are to be believed, Portuguese/Spanish wines tasted awful in the 70s, before they got their act together, so who knows?

    Have you tried Polish Flag? It’s kind of a close relative of Mad Dog, minus Tabasco. I was introduced to this my first week in Poland. A most welcoming barman (no longer a barman, but still a good friend), poured it for me when I asked for something typically Polish. I lack the vocab to describe the glass, but it’s stemmed. first half fill with raspberry juice. Then pour chilled vodka over a spoon (so the vodka flows down the side of the glass and doesn’t mix with the juice). Thus red on bottom, clear on top like the Polish flag. Duszkiem: the vodka hits first with the lovely juice chaser. Just the ticket on a cold winter’s night.

    Na Zdrowia!

    • makrotantalo November 1, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      I haven’t yet tried Polish Flag, but as winter draws in, I might…
      As for Polish wine, why not? It should improve. Greek wine was rather the same as Spanish wine in the 70’s, though it still has something of an image problem, it has improved enormously. So, next, Polish wine.

    • makrotantalo December 5, 2011 at 8:46 am #

      Na Zdrowia, Michael. Just to say that your comments on wine are very enlightening. It looks like the old Sofia from Bulgaria has shown a decline in recent years for the bottom end of the market, but I’m just going on what’s stocked in the shops.

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