Dining

Guide for drinkers – beginner level

Photo : László Balkányi - We Love Budapest
Guide for drinkers – beginner level

 According to our examination results, all kinds of spirits usually end up somewhere over a wall, or on the sidewalk, or if you are lucky enough, it will go down in a toilet. However, consumers experience some phenomenal moments until spirits are inside.

In the past couple of years, there were many types of alcoholic beverages being very popular in the pubs and private parties of Budapest. Regardless the location, beer is always the most popular either it is a downtown apartment, or a castle among the hills of Buda, or a suburb flat in a huge block. Beer and wine are always there. These drinks need an extra essay, so we skip the topic and leave it for the experts.
However, we must write a few words about the great and widespread Hungarian tradition of making and drinking ‘fröccs’, alias wine spritzer. They are mixtures of wine and club soda in various proportions depending on the type of the wine. Spritzers are nice refreshments of the summers and of course, there are many other advantages of them. For drinkers having a sweet tooth or a childish taste, the best choice is ‘macifröccs’, which is a special spritzer of wine, club soda and raspberry syrup.

The amount of alcohol we consume is mainly influenced by the sources we have in our wallet, but we do recommend paying for your drinks, since stealing is not to God’s liking.

Having only a few bucks, unlucky locals turn to the cheaper, terribly sweetened wines or the ones in gallons with very sour, acidic taste. They will choose the awful quality beer with a taste and smell similar to a wet sheep-wool, in order to escape from the painful reality. Luckily, we do not speak about this state of being with its bad habits of drinking alcohol. We would like to discuss the condition where you have cash to butter both sides of your bread.
Many Hungarian young people started their ‘drinking career’ with the three-letter basic drink, RWC, that is red wine with cola. It may be a little embarrassing, but it meant the first step of tasting alcohol. It was the top drink of private parties, and there are some – not too many – who still love this alcoholic mixture. Anyway, it is definitely a drink of the past.

Pálinka is the most typical shot in Hungary made of several different fruits. Other names are fruit brandy, schnaps in Germany and l’eau de vie in France. It can be distilled from one particular fruit, or a mixture of fruits, and Hungarians have made great effort to have the quality deserved its fame. There are many pálinka distilleries, so be careful and look for the best ones. Good pálinkas are served in room temperature and we absolute recommend avoiding the bad ones.

One of the most well-known Hungarian spirits is a member of bitters. It is Unicum. It has a characteristic round green bottle, which has an easily identifiable trademark on it. You can notice this bottle without difficulty even in a ‘not-so-sober’ state. Of course, we all agree that quantity is not as important as quality, and everybody should follow a civilized drinking habit. All in all, tasting Unicum in Hungary is compulsory just like visiting Heroes’ Square and Buda Castle.
The forever favorite is Vodka. In many cases, people start the night with Vodka, and in a mixture with orange juice, it is surely the first experience of teenagers’ desire to get blunted. It disappears as you grow older, but sooner or later Vodka-Juice comes back to give fun. Some people like it while others do not. Vodka with club soda appeared some years ago. It means watered vodka and a piece of lime makes it refreshing in hot summer nights. It is interesting because quality vodka is an excellent beverage if you feel like having a shot right after wake up, however, there are not too many people experiencing it. Vodka is made of potato or wheat and if you put a bottle on ice it gives a new essence to the drink.
One of the most famous cocktails made of vodka is the so called ‘Aurora’. According to its receipt, you need some apple, orange or raspberry syrup and a shot glass of vodka from a soda maker. This fizzy drink can be as strong as Mike Tyson in the top of his career, and you get drunk immediately. There are variants with lemon juice or champagne, but here the proportions are 1:1.
Photo: László Balkányi - We Love Budapest
We should say a few words about tequila. Tequila had its golden age a couple of years ago, when most people thought it was an important knowledge to drink silver tequila with lime and salt or the golden one with orange and cinnamon. As a matter of fact, tequila should be drunk alone. You only need extra spice or drinks to follow the shot if tequila is not the best quality and it is more important to get drunk than to enjoy the taste. The huge amount of tequila consumed in the previous years were not premium quality, so for today, we have probably learnt to appreciate the value of this quality spirit.
Whisky has a big group of fans. There are many specialist shops in Budapest to fulfill the increasing demands in offer and in ‘whisky-culture’. Whisky has its own past as well. Whether it was Scottish, Irish, or Bourbon, the ‘whisky-cola’ combination was deservedly popular of cheaper university parties, and everybody has this mixture on their ‘When I was young we drank… ‘ – list.
Gin-tonic combination has always been popular among its enthusiastic fans. It is probably less popular than whisky-cola, but the mixture of gin and tonic is a really delicious drink.
Rum and other liquors are mainly basic ingredients of cocktails, however, the very trendy Cuba Libre is nothing else but rum and cola. Many types of beverages are mixed together with energy drinks such as vodka and whisky as well.
Photo: László Balkányi - We Love Budapest
Among cocktails, we must mention some famous and notorious ones. Long Island Ice Tea comes first. We need gin, vodka, rum, tequila and triple sec. Then add the non-alcoholic ingredients: sour mix and some cola-drink. Sour mix is the mixture of lemon or lime juice and syrup. It sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Although it sounds bad, it is a very popular and delicious drink worldwide. The other favorite is Mojito, which is found probably in every pub besides Long Island Ice Tea. Margarita, Caipirinha, Pina Colada, Daiquiri, Bloody Mary, Gin Fizz or White Russian are great favorites as well. This latter one became famous in the movie, the Big Lebowski.
Shots, or also called as shooters, in some other regions are very popular drinks as well. These types are drunk straight up quickly rather than being sipped. They are usually served in 3 or 4 cl. containing two or more spirits and some additional non-alcoholic ingredients. One of the most well-known is B-52 with its three separate layers and being lit before drinking. Kamikaze, made of vodka, triple sec and lime, is getting more and more popular nowadays. For great cocktails, you should go to Boutiq’bar.