Friends have noticed my passion for Polish flavored liqueurs (nalewki). Commercial versions are available, but my favorite are the homemade variety. I enjoy them so much that I’m willing to painstakingly type Polish recipes into Google Translate to try them out.
Nalweki translates to tinctures (medicines made by dissolving a drug in alcohol), and many varieties are thought to have medicinal qualities, but I’m after the heartfelt social benefits of sharing something that you began to prepare months ago with friends.
Most often, I’m using some seasonal fruit, sugar and vodka. Allowing osmosis to work until the fruit is very boozy and the vodka is very fruity. Usually this slow addition of fruit juice to the spirits yields a product that is lower in alcohol than vodka.
This makes it easier to sip, more pleasurable fruity flavors to savor, and less burn going down.
What better way to honor your dinner guests than to pull out a bottle of your homemade liqueur at the end of a meal? To help you in that end, I’ve prepared this round-up of my five favorite nakweki.
My current favorite and popular classic is a cherry liqueur, but who knows what will come next. I’m interesting in trying something with ginger. Making these traditional recipes made me bold enough to my hand at creating blueberry and apple flavored liqueurs inspired by a local chef’s house made moonshine.
I’m eager to hear about your nalewki making adventures. What’s your favorite? Did you go all out, make gallons to present all your friends with gift bottles? Na zdrowie! — Lois
- Cherry liqueur – Wisniak or Wisniowka, depending on whether it’s made with sweet or sour cherries according to some, but I find Wisniowka the more commonly used term, and to be honest, it’s just fun to say.
- Lemon liqueur – Cytrynowka, similar to the more widely know Italian limoncello, and easy to make if you live in the southwest or Florida where friends are always looking to give you a few bags of lemons in the winter. It’s our equivalent of leave zucchini on your neighbor’s porch day.
- Tangerine liqueur – Mandarynkowa, I’ve made this two different ways, more recently just using the zest and not the juice, both are delicious.
- Plum liqueur – Sliwkowa, plums are such a classic flavor is Polish cuisine. I like this for sipping or it makes a tasty cocktail with tonic water.
- Honey spice liqueur – Krupnik, the same name is also given to a barley soup, but we’re talking about the liqueur (no barley), it’s reported to be very good for a cold or cough.