As 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.
This 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…
Another day, another sign. OK, this one is a couple of months old, the picture is not great (mobile, after work, grumpy), but that was probably the first advert for a Polish wódka (not ‘vodka’) I saw in London.
Sobieski, named after a Polish king, was – surprisingly – advertised in Polish. ‘Król jest tylko jeden’ – there’s only one king. An advert in Polish in Paddington? Must be a first.
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 londoners.com.
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!