We're pleased to finally share with you the travelog and guest cocktail blog from our friend Erik Dayrell and his trip to Europe this past Spring.
At the end of May this year I traveled to Romania and Hungary for 10 days with my brother. The main impetus for the trip was a wedding in Oradea, Romania. Located just 7.5 miles from the Hungarian border, Oradea is considered the Little Paris of Eastern Europe for it's collection of stunning Art Nouveau and Baroque architecture. Oradea is also known for its thermal spas, where one can choose from a variety of pools of varying temperatures and mineral contents to cure your body's ailments. There was an active night scene, and considering the ease of getting around (English has been taught in schools since communism fell in the late 80's and mass transit is aplenty) I would highly recommend a visit.
Oradea was where I was first introduced to Palinka, and while the spirit is technically Hungarian, Oradea was a part of Hungary until WWI.
Palinka is a fruit brandy distilled from fruit and grape pomace (the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of grapes after pressing for juice or oil). Prunes and apricots are the most common fruits used, but pears, peaches, cherries, apples and quince are also used. As of 2004 the European Union designated Palinka as a Hungaricum, a Hungarian specialty. No other country is allowed to use the name Palinka, and to be considered Palinka the spirit must be made within Hungary. The fruit must be grown, the mash fermented and distilled, and finally bottled, all within Hungarian borders. Alcohol and aromas cannot be added, nor can colorants, flavorings and sweeteners (hence the clear color). The final spirit has an ABV between 37.5% and 86%.
Traditionally Palinka is served as a chilled shot. Small pitchers are placed around the table and shots are poured into tulip shaped glasses. Give a toast, finish it off by saying 'Naroc' (Good Luck), and then tip it back. Be careful... the sweet aroma of Palinka is generally followed by a serious alcohol bite.
You can now find Palinka in the States through online liquor stores.
Erik and I tested the Palinka in a few classic coktails with varying results. We'll share with you a couple that we thought were quite drinkable. Please share with us your ideas for experimentation as we're pretty new to it's favor profile.
1 1/2 oz Apricot Palinka
1/2 oz Dark Creme de Cocoa
1 1/2 Cream or Half and Half
Shake on ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg.
1 oz high-proof Palinka
1 oz Absinthe
Shake on ice for a good minute. Stain into ice-filled rocks glass.