Every nation has its own national spirit: Greeks prefer ouzo, Scots prefer Whisky, in Mexico people prefer tequila and in Hungary people drink palinka.
The reason why many people love palinka is simple: it is a unique, strong and fruity spirit. Palinka is a national drink of Hungary but recently it has gained popularity over the past decade all around the world.
During becoming widely known, palinka acquired new and funny nicknames like Mother’s milk, Witch’s fart, Little Fury, Fence rending, Neck oil, Monkey’s milk and Eye-water. Some of the most well-known palinkas are made from plum, pear, apple, cherry and apricot.
Taste and fragrance are extremely important when we talk about palinka because these are the two factors that define the drink besides its appearance and “strength”.
Usually the alcohol percentage is between 35 % and 50 % but there are palinkas that are stronger than 50 %. Palinka has a significant, aromatic fragrance and fruity taste that is why most people drink it pure but interestingly, palinka can be perfectly combined with other drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike – to make delicious cocktails as well.
Many people do not know the fact that cocktail making with palinka has almost a decade long history even in Hungary. The first Hungarian Palinka Cocktail Competition was held in December 2009 in Budapest, the capital of Hungary.
The basic idea of the competition was to create delicious cocktails with palinka as the main ingredient to prove the world that Hungarian brandy deserves a place among cocktail ingredients just like rum, vodka, whisky and tequila.
The winner of the competition is a Hungarian bartender and the winner palinka cocktail is called ‘Taltos’. The name is extremely expressive if one understands its meaning. The ‘taltos’ or ‘táltos’ (Hungarian pronunciation) is a shaman-like figure in Hungarian folk culture and mythology who was able to achieve the state of ‘trance’, which is a deeper form of meditation, and cure sickness.
Táltos is also a protective figure of Hungarian mythology who was able to communicate with the Hungarian nation in a time of great danger, for example, during and before battles. Meditative state of mind and palinka – or any other alcoholic drink – consumption is often connected and this is where the cocktail’s name comes from. The ‘Taltos’ cocktail’s recipe is the following (for 1 serving in Martini glass):
- 3.5 cl Marc Palinka
- 1 cl Gundel Green Walnut liqueor
- 0.5 cl Bols apricot liqueor
- 2 cl Martini dry vermouth
- Green walnut as garnish
Other drinks can also be mixed with palinka to get a delicious result. A rather interesting combination is plum palinka (44 %) mixed with ginger ale and the result is phenomenal. The same applies to apple palinka mixed with tonic. So only the sky and our taste buds are the limit.
There are also ‘lighter’ palinka cocktails with less alcohol content that further enhance the fruitiness of palinka. Some of the most popular recipes are the following:
- 40 ml Williams Pear Palinka
- 15 ml fresh lemon juice
- 20 ml rosemary infused sugar syrup
- 25 ml fresh Williams pear puree
Preparation: Pour all the ingredients into a shaker, shake it, then serve it in an old fashined glass
- 40 ml Plum Palinka
- 1.5 spoons of plum jam
- 20 ml fresh lemon juice
- 20 ml sugar syrup
- 1/ 2 egg/ 20 ml egg white
- 20 ml pear nectar
Preparation: Pour all the ingredients into a shaker, shake and double strain then serve the drink in a sour glass with powdered cinnamon.