Category Archives: Piołunówka

Make “Absinthe” at home?

Wormwood

Delicate Bitterness from Poland

Not really. This is something rather different, with a noble and ancient pedigree which actually predates absinthe (Stefan Falimierz 1534) Absinthist in Poland has sent us a picture of this little known wormwood drink, which is called Piołunowka (the Polish word for wormwood is piołun – the French word for wormwood is absinthe) According to Wikipedia:

Piołunowka has much higher levels of thujone than absinthe because it is not distilled. Many people produce it today to try and feel the ‘absinthe effect’

The level of thujone in Absinthist’s Piołunowka is unknown – anyone care to make a guess? There are of course numerous places that sell a ready to use absinthe kit  although this Polish drink uses only wormwood, no costly star anise, fennel, calamus, hyssop and so forth. As I have mentioned before I have been given a strange recipe for Známý likér absintovy (well known liquor absinth) from a late 19th Century Czech text. It seems to call for the addition of lemon oils – as well as the usual absinthe regulars – rather curious, which is why I am currently checking it with a more informed source. This recipe also requires no distillation – a kind of folk recipe absinthe which could be fun to try for Christmas!

What I also find very curious is that Absinthist – an expert herbalist – describes his drink as having a “delicate bitterness“. This is contrary to what others preach at us. We are told that macerating wormwood in high proof alcohol creates something “vile-tasting and insanely bitter” – quite wrong it seems.

The very same writer has penned another polemic on the wrongs of Czech absinth, written words which cry out for a little sugar when reading, due to their bitterness. The writer might like to ponder the words of wiser men: “The worst offense that can be committed by a polemic is to stigmatize those who hold a contrary opinion as bad and immoral men.” (John Stuart Mill).

Anyway, fancy making piołunówka? Here’s how simple it really is:

I have made piołunówka 39.6%, rye-base, no sugar, assemblage of distillate and macerate. Wormwoody to the boot, pleasant herbal aroma, delicate bitterness, medium alcohol bite.

The recipe is simple, makes 300ml of piołunówka

1 coffeespoon of dried wormwood leaves macerate for 24h in 100ml of vodka, then strain and dilute it with 200ml of vodka, let it rest, sugar if you wish. The simplest recipes yield the best results.

The main difference between it and Falimierz’ s recipe: no sugar, wormwood leaves instead of flowertops, slightly less strong.

I wonder if Absinthist actually used spirytus rektyfikowany? A high proof Polish spirit that I understand cannot be legally exported from Poland. The comments box below is open for comments about this drink / alternative recipes – and nothing else.

Absinth Returns


 

slavonice.jpg

The modern day renaissance in asbinthe drinking in fact started in the Czech Republic, and the new worldwide popularity can be traced back to a gentleman called Ing. Boháče from Slavonice. One bottle was made for his Besídka Hotel by Radomil Hill, whose family had originally produced absinthe during the high times of The First Republic in the 1920s. The Green Fairy –Zelena Muza – in the absinthe bottle made her first reappearance on the world stage in a beautiful Southern Bohemian town. By chance a theater group Divadlo Sklep -who were involved with the hotel – spotted the absinthe bottle and asked for some, the Green Fairy spread her wings and headed to Prague with that lucky band of actors.

 

besidka.jpg

 

Why would someone ask for absinth? It is actually well known! One only has to look around former Hapsburg Europe for other examples of this homemade thujone rich drink. For example Polish Piołunówka; this brew is named after piołun” which is the Polish word for wormwood; the French word for wormwood is absinthe. Piołunówka is made by macerating wormwood and other herbs in alcohol and not by distilling; it is claimed that this helps the wormwood, and it’s constituent thujone,  to survive in a much more potent form. Then of course there’s Pelinovak from the former countries of Yugoslavia

Pelinkovac