Czech Spirits

Fernet - local spirit

Shooters are a serious thing in Czech drinking culture. Should you drink a shot with someone and match them shot-for-shot all night, you are considered trustworthy, and you’ll have a friend for life. That is, of course, providing that they can recognise you the following day.


Becherovka, an ever-present, sweet, yellow, herb-based liqueur from the spa town Karlovy Vary, is consumed as it is or diluted with a tonic when it becomes known as: ‘concrete’ (beton).


Fernet goes with beer better and is a sharp local liqueur influenced by Fernet Branca. This can also be diluted with a tonic to make a ‘Bavarian beer’ or Bavorské pivo — which, naturally, doesn’t contain any beer and isn’t known in Bavaria.

Božkov Original Rum (Tuzemák, formerly called Tuzemský rum)

The least expensive passport to oblivion, and therefore favoured by local alcoholics, is ‘Tuzemák’ rum. This locally made rum is produced from sugar beet rather than sugar canes and, therefore, has a dark brown colour and is very strongly flavoured and sweet. With hot water, a lemon slice and some sugar, it certainly makes a comforting warming concoction during winter.


Borovička‘s a juniper style brandy, more closely related to the Slovaks than the Czechs and not dissimilar to the Dutch Jenever, whilst ‘Slivovice‘ plum brandy’s an extra local delicacy that is smooth, if not home-made, and washes down easily.


Slivovitz‘ (Slivovice or plum brandy) is another local delicacy, consumed and produced more in Moravia and Slovakia, where it comes from.


Absinthe, with an impressive seventy proof, is forbidden in many countries. It is a wormwood distillate but possesses a slightly lower (and apparently less brain-harming) amount of wood alcohol than the type used to pickle the top intellects of Paris. A see-through green fluid, its taste is similar to alcohol flavoured shampoo. The traditional process is to drench a spoon of sugar in the absinthe then burn the sugar on the spoon, so it caramelizes. Once the fire has extinguished, stir the spoon of sugar back in the glass. After this, be sure you hold onto your socks!


Zelená – you also, sometimes, witness people in pubs necking shots of glowing peppermint liqueur (often called: —’green’), which isn’t hugely appealing.

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