How to drink Becherovka correctly
Becherovka occupies a worthy place among alcoholic beverages. It's funny, but initially the herbal liqueur was made as a medicine and was used for stomach ailments. Gradually several varieties appeared, quickly found admirers who consume them as a standalone drink or as part of cocktails.
- What is Becherovka
- History of the drink
- Types of balsam
- Composition and calories
- How to choose a drink and distinguish it from fakes
- How to drink Becherovka properly
- Recipes for Becherovka cocktails
- Red month
- Raquel's Tears
- Czech ruff
- The benefits and harms of Becherovka herbal balm
- Recipe for homemade balm
- Tips and Tricks
- Interesting Facts
What is Becherovka
Herbal tinctures in alcohol are stored for a long time and have many therapeutic properties. Some taste so good that you should drink them only under threat of execution. But there are surprisingly harmonious combinations that are nothing short of a treat. Such is the case with herbal balm, whose recipe was compiled by Czech pharmacist Josef Vitus Becher.
History of the drink
Karlovy Vary, where the inventor of the balm lived and worked, is famous as the largest spa resort. Its pride are the healing springs, according to the official version, there were 12 of them at first, after the creation of the healing balm residents jokingly nicknamed it the thirteenth. In the spa area there are 131 sanatoriums and prophylactics, where balneotherapy and spa treatments are offered. Not surprisingly, it was among this natural wealth that Josef Becher's entrepreneurial spirit and extensive knowledge led to the sale of a balm for stomach ailments in 1807.
It is now impossible to know for certain whether the apothecary and the physician Count Plettenberg-Mittingen, surnamed Frobig, actually met. Legend has it that he became friends with Becher and, before he left, left him an approximate recipe for a bitter tincture for stomach pains.
It became the basis with which the apothecary experimented for quite a long time, achieving not only an improvement in the therapeutic but also in the taste. When he cooled the tincture, he was surprised to find that the nasty pungent smell disappeared, and instead there was a gentle herbal trail with a refreshing note. The taste, too, improved considerably. This is how one of the basic rules - to drink Becherovka chilled to +7 degrees - came into being. Doses also remained therapeutic, it is recommended for 1 reception not more than 50 ml of balm.
Worth knowing: Bitter was originally marketed as a remedy for stomach pains and nervous disorders.
The first name was more of a tribute to an English acquaintance and sounded like English Bitter. Later it was changed to a more familiar Original Karlsbader Becherbitter, which later turned into Becherovka.
The commercial flair was inherited by his son, who not only put the production on an industrial basis and secured the Johan Becher trademark for the family. Having studied the history of champagne, he derived from it the important idea that the product is recognized by its packaging. For this purpose a series of original balsamic bottles were specially designed to his order, which have remained unchanged to this day.
The recipe turned out to be so effective in terms of medicine and taste that the balm received many awards at international exhibitions.
The drink's victorious march through the countries of Europe began with the light hand of another member of the dynasty, Rudolph. The balsam even made its way to America and was also highly appreciated. The Second World War almost ruined both the production and the idea itself. But with the help of Václav Lupínek, who managed to preserve the unique technology and recipe, Becherovka now graces the shelves of stores in different countries.
Types of balsamic
The classic recipe has not changed since 1807. The exact recipe is kept in deep secrecy. It is so carefully guarded that only two members of the dynasty know about it at a time, passing it on over time. Asked about the composition of the balm, scientists have not been able to recreate it. It is known that it contains:
But without exact proportions, this knowledge is useless, because you get the usual drugstore collection. By the way, the alcohol is made only on the basis of local water taken from springs. Any other water distorts the taste of the drink.
A very important element of the technology is aging in special barrels made exclusively of oak planks. Their shape is designed in such a way as to ensure maximum contact with the liquid.
Interesting: It takes about 2.5-3 months to prepare a batch of balsam. In addition to herbs and alcohol, the composition includes sugar and water.
Experimentation with the composition and study of the effects of the balm on the body continued. Over time, to maintain the interest of customers and to diversify the range were created a few more varieties. They also have a therapeutic effect and are packaged only in the original bottles of Becherovka brand. To the main recipe we added four more.
- In addition to the traditional set of herbs Becherovka Cordial also has linden blossom and white wine. It was put into production in 2008. The strength of the drink is 35%, recommended as a prophylactic in the off-season.
- Becherovka Lemond also began production in 2008. It is the lightest in this family, the alcohol content barely reaches 20%. The liqueur has a bright citrus flavor due to the introduction of lemon in the recipe.
- Becherovka KV 14 is the only one recommended as an aperitif, taken before meals to improve digestion and awaken the appetite. The recipe was created in 1996 and has not been changed since then.
- Becherovka Ice&Fire was released in 2014, has a menthol flavor with a bright addition of chili peppers, the color is dark, similar to a mild coffee.
Composition and calories
The exact ratio of substances in the balsam is kept strictly secret. Exactly what is known is that it contains alcohol produced from water taken from one of the springs in Karlovy Vary, a complex of herbs, of which there are at least 20, and sugar. The rest of the details are known only to members of the dynasty. An experienced taster immediately distinguishes a fake by color and taste. Even a bottle carefully copied from the original won't help.
The caloric content is quite decent: 248 kcal per 100 grams. At the same time, carbohydrates are only 16% of the norm. As a cure, it is quite possible to afford a regular intake of balm in pure form or pour a few drops into the evening tea. The waist will not even feel such a supplement.
How to choose a drink and distinguish it from fakes
The surest way is to buy a bottle of balsam directly at the factory. There is a special store for visitors. There are not only standard, but also gift options. For example, a very small packaging, really reminiscent of a beaker of medicine, but the style of the bottle is fully sustained, and the contents correspond to the recipe.
If you are not planning a trip to the Czech Republic, you can look for a drink in specialized stores. There are all the certificates and bills of lading for it. Do not be shy and take the sellers at their word, especially if the bitter is really purchased for medicinal purposes.
It is worth remembering: Only Original and Lemond are sold outside of the Czech Republic, for the rest you have to go to Karlovy Vary, they are not exported from the country.
When you buy Becherovka at retail, it is easy to make a mistake and buy tinted vodka instead of the miracle balm. To be sure of the quality, in addition to the documents on the goods, you must be sure to pay attention to such nuances:
- The bottle should be of dark green glass, which protects the drink from sunlight.
- All types have the same design.
- It is allowed to be packaged in containers of 0.05, 0.1, 0.35, 0.5, 0.7, rarely there are bottles of 1 and 3 liters, but it is possible.
- The bottle is embossed with the maker's logo and name.
- The cap covers the neck with a standard "shirt," with the logo on a red background duplicated at the top.
- Labels in stripes cover the top and bottom of the bottle, girdling it completely.
Any free variations in design are a clear indication of a fake. The balm is produced in limited quantities and is in ever-increasing demand. Manufacturers carefully guard not only the formulation but also the authenticity of their product, keeping the well-recognized package design unchanged for decades.
The price can also serve as a guide, it ranges from 750 to 1000 rubles for a bottle of 0.5 liters. This is quite a justified cost, given the composition of the liquor and its therapeutic orientation. By the way, the recommended dosage is 20-40 g per day, and it is taken only once a day after a meal.
How to properly drink Becherovka
It is good that although the balsam was invented as a medicine, a prescription for it is not required. Nevertheless, it is worth knowing certain rules of drinking in order to enjoy its original flavor to the full.
- The drink should only be served chilled. The exception to this is when you have a cold. In this case the bitter is heated in a water bath until warm and immediately after drinking it you go to bed under a warm blanket.
- The liquor is served in small, streamlined glasses on a solid stem. Brandy shot glasses can be used.
- To drink it in a gulp is a sign of bad taste. Only when you sip it leisurely in tiny sips you will reveal its true deep taste and wonderful aftertaste.
- The level of alcohol is medium, 38% degrees is quite palpable when the recommended dose is exceeded.
- It is not customary to snack on the balsamic, it is so rich in composition that it is quite independent and does not require any additions.
- The original liqueur can be supplemented only with a classic snack in the form of fresh orange slices, sprinkled lightly with cinnamon.
- If you are lucky enough to buy Cordial or Lemond, you should consider that they have a looser rule of consumption. They most often become ingredients in cocktails, and fruit and sweets are suitable for appetizers. The rules allow the presence on the table of pears, oranges, apples, grapes, grapefruit and tangerines. Of desserts, dark chocolate and light cakes are preferred.
- The original use of balsamic was found in Slovakia. It is possible to take their example and drink a glass of liquor with a glass of light beer, and the second drink is drunk practically in a gulp. Then one has only to sit and listen attentively to the sensations given by the combination of herbal and malt bases.
- Mixing the liquor with various juices or tonics gives an interesting result.
Recipes for cocktails with Becherovka
Depending on the ingredients, you can emphasize or subdue the herbal flavor of the liqueur. You should also keep in mind the level of alcohol and calculate the final result carefully. The peculiarity of balsam is the need to serve it chilled, otherwise rough odors appear and the taste becomes harsh. Most often Becherovka is drunk as a digestif after a heavy meal or at night almost without a snack. If you want to diversify the taste and create something new, you can take one of the popular recipes as a basis.
It will take less than 5 minutes to prepare. In a shaker mix 40 ml of Becherovka, half as much Blue Curacao liqueur and 150 ml of grape juice. The mixture is poured wall-to-wall into a glass 1/4 full of ice. The decoration is a spiral of orange peel.
This recipe is almost universal. It is convenient because the juice, which is the basis of the cocktail, can be changed without losing the originality of taste. The name changes as well, but the method of preparation remains the same. So on the basis of black currant with the addition of tonic balsam and ice, you get Red month, currant with grapefruit - Invigorating freshness, apple juice - Adam's apple.
Tears of Raquel.
Very simple to make and spectacular to serve. It is composed of two layers. Fifty ml of Becherovka balsamic is poured on the bottom, the second layer is the same amount of Triple Sec liqueur. The top layer is set on fire.
Directly in the glass. Place ice cubes on 1/3 of the volume of the container, then carefully add 30 ml of herbal balsam. Then apple liqueur is added at the rate of 100 ml per serving, the final chord is 3-4 drops of ginger ale. Stir the mixture by turning the glass in different directions, and decorate with mint and fruit slice.
Quite a risky recipe, applicable only to those who are confident in their abilities and have a good tolerance for strong drinks. It is based on a combination of light beer, preferably lager and balsamic. The composition is 1 part tonic, apple juice and Becherovka for 2 parts beer. The liquor is poured first and the beer last. It is necessary to do it with enviable skill so that the beer cap is only outlined, but not risen. This cocktail is enough for the whole evening if you savor it in small infrequent sips.
The benefits and harms of Becherovka herbal balm
Created to cure the balm has become a favorite drink of the inhabitants of the Czech Republic and not only. It is so unique that it is useless to compare it with others in terms of taste. The liquor is drunk in four variants:
- diluted with a tonic;
- for medicinal purposes;
- as part of cocktails.
It contains more than 20 local and imported medicinal herbs, the effect on the body is complex. First of all, it is designed to treat problems of the digestive system and in a dosage of no more than 20 ml per day is able to improve the condition of the mucous membranes of the stomach and esophagus. It relieves heaviness, painful sensations, improves the process of digestion. Also a therapeutic dose eliminates heartburn, flatulence, stimulates the absorption of useful substances.
The second task of the balm was to eliminate neurological manifestations. It still perfectly eliminates feelings of anxiety, unreasonable fear, reduces the harm of constant stress and chronic fatigue, increases mood. Taken after dinner, 2-3 hours before bedtime, the liquor successfully fights insomnia.
The contraindication to use is an allergy to one of the components, individual intolerance, pregnancy and breast-feeding. If you need to get behind the wheel of a personal or company vehicle, the medicine will also have to be postponed for later, the alcohol content in it is around 30-38 degrees.
It is not recommended to drink Becherovka and those who are treated for alcoholism. Even tiny doses can provoke a relapse.
In other cases, the drink will only do you good.
Recipe for home balsam
It is impossible to vouch for the result, since it is unlikely to find water from a Czech spring and a good oak barrel within reach, but you can experiment. For the tincture you need an alcohol base with a value of 55%. You can dilute the alcohol, take as a base vodka or moonshine double purification.
Important: Balsam is prepared only in glassware.
Buying spices, you need to pay attention to their quality. The best option would be to buy in Indian incense stores, where a separate showcase or shelf is allocated for cardamom, cinnamon and other aromatic substances.
You will need:
- 1.2 liters of alcohol;
- 150 grams of sugar;
- A strip of orange zest;
- 1 tsp. anise seeds;
- 2 to 3 boxes of cardamom;
- 1 cinnamon stick;
- 10 pcs. allspice;
- 20 buds of dried cloves;
- 300 ml of artesian water.
Order of preparation
Spices stacked in a glass jar and pour alcohol. The container is tightly covered with a lid, hide in a dark cool place. To give the spices full flavor and aroma, shake the jar every day. The mixture is left to stand for a week, then strain and boil the syrup, not allowing it to boil after the dissolution of sugar. All the foam is carefully removed. The process continues for 8-10 minutes with constant stirring. The solution is cooled and combined with the tincture.
An important point: The syrup remains in the pot, and in it a thin stream pours the alcohol infusion. Stirring is strictly clockwise.
The resulting mixture is poured into bottles and let infuse for another 7 days. Store in the refrigerator no longer than six months. This recipe will not replace the classic Becherovka, but will keep from colds in the period of autumn rains and perfectly complement the taste of tea or coffee.
Tips and Tricks
Connoisseurs of the herbal balm recommend:
- Drink it from very small conical shaped shot glasses.
- Cool it to 5-7 degrees before serving.
- To treat colds, heat the liquor in a water bath to 40-45 degrees.
- Consume after a meal without a snack.
- Be sure to risk and drink a shot of Becherovka with a glass of light beer, appreciating the prospects of taste.
The history of the creation of the herbal tincture on the one hand is clear and transparent, but on the other - covered with a veil of mystery.
- It is known that only 2 persons at a time know the recipe: the director and the head of production and the secret of preparation is passed on in the dynasty exclusively through the male line.
- Despite all the scientific achievements in chemistry and applied sciences, it has never been possible to repeat the recipe.
- The Becherovka liqueurs are not exported, except for 2 varieties.
- The Jan Becher Museum was opened in Karlovy Vary, where guided tours and product tastings are held.
- The Austrian emperor liked the balsam so much that he made an order for 55 thousand liters of the drink for the imperial court.
Unique balsam is a pride of Bohemia along with healing springs. A small bottle will suffice for a long time if you take it as a medicine, every day and little by little. Then gastric disorders and seasonal moping will be bypassed, and the rich smell of aromatic herbs will lift your spirits and immunity.
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