Category Archives: wódka with a W

All (well, almost) flavours of the Polish national drink…

Higher taxes, less vodka (allegedly)

A selection of Polish vodkas © MichalDAs everybody who lives in Britain knows, people in power love increasing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes in a futile attempt to curb drinking and smoking.

Strangely enough, it would seem it worked in Poland. Of all countries.

This dry press release quoting “the Polish spirits industry organization” claims that

Poland registered a 75-percent drop in vodka drinking alone in the first three months of this year because of excise tax hikes.

Wowzers. Seventy-five per cent?! That seems totally unreal to me, to be honest. But apparently

Poles purchased 21.1 million liters of alcoholic drinks, including vodka, in the first quarter of 2009, which is some 30 percent less than in the same period in 2008.

Now 21 million liters – to put the number in context – is roughly 0.5 liter of any alcoholic drinks per person, including children, babies and people who temporarily live in the UK. And that’s per quarter, which gives you well under 200ml of alcohol per person per month. Now that’s really not much, you have to admit.

Poles have also bought 10 per cent less beer in the same period, the report claims. The reason?

Officials of the industry organization said the considerable drop in the sale of vodka was prompted by the rise of excise taxes by 9 percent as of January, coupled with the smaller purchasing power of Poles due to the global economic crisis.

The report doesn’t state whether Poles have started drinking more wine, but anecdotal evidence would suggest that Poles have in fact switched to drinking other alcohols. In the past decade or so it has become a norm for Polish women to drink beer too, which they hardly did before, at least not in public.

Anyway, it seems Poland has now turned its back on alcohol. I think I need a stiff drink.

How to find Polish food in London

kabanos © Bartolo (via Flickr)Through this blog, of course. Although I do realise my previous few posts on that subject probably only just scratched the surface.

But I’ve just come across a rather impressive selection of Polish places – or venues serving Polish food in some form – on a user review site Qype.

The good thing about it is it comes with user reviews and I have to say I’m so far impressed by the fact that most places got between 4 and 5 stars. OK, quite a few of them have so far been reviewed by just one person, which is hardly sufficient for a balanced review, but it’s fair to say that whenever you have an average score of 4 stars from 6 reviewers, chances are the place will not disappoint.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I had no idea how many Polish places there really are in London. Some of them, like L’autre in Mayfair, are a bizarre hybrid of Polish and Mexican cuisine, some are serving Eastern European food in general, but the remaining ones are focused purely on pierogi, placki and bigos. Yum!

Qype also does a good job listing quite a few Polish shops in London, so whenever you have this sudden urge to get some kabanos, you know where to look for it online.

Image © Bartolo – via Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence

Żubrówka on my mind….

ZubrowkaThis is what happens when I get bored on a rainy Saturday afternoon – I take pics of my own wódka collection. I’m sure there’s a name for this condition.

Anyway, the picture above shows my favourite Polish drink, Żubrówka, aka the bison vodka, aka the grass vodka. The traditional one has a leaf of grass inside, hence the name.

The best way to drink it is with apple juice, one part of vodka to three (roughly) parts of chilled apple juice.

Although someone recently texted me from a bar in Soho where they were enjoying ‘fabulous martinis with zubrowka, krupnik mint [another good Polish vodka] and apple juice’. Sound good. Got some Krupnik at home, might even give it a try tonight. After all, the weather only encourages drinking…

Bar (not) Polski

When I used to work near Holborn I used to drag my colleagues (or were dragged myself) to a little place, tucked away in a narrow passage just behind Holborn tube station, called Bar Polski. Not for patriotic resons, mind. I just loved their range of vodkas, back then almost totally unknown in Britain – mainly żubrówka.

Then I forgot all about it until today, when I stumbled across this review of Bar Polski on a website called

Full of mistakes and typos, but generally speaks highly of the place:

At £2.50 a shot, Bar Polski is the perfect place to instigate the inebriation. Just don’t expext to pull anything tastier than a pint.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to check what my favourite review site, Trusted Places, has to say about Bar Polski. Based on three reviews, it was given 4.3 out of 5 points, so not bad at all! But here comes the biggest shock (and I quote Trusted Places reviewer, sweettirana):

Contrary to popular belief I feel I must let the secret out… this bar isnt owned by a Polish person, its owned by an Aussie!

Shock! Horror! But anyway – dzięki, mate!