Nalewka (IPA: [na'lɛfka]) is a traditional Polish category of alcoholic beverage. Similar to medicinal tinctures, it is usually 40 to 45% strong (though some can be as strong as 75%), and is made by maceration of various ingredients in alcohol, usually vodka or spirit. Among the ingredients often used are fruits, herbs, spice, sugar or molasses. The name nalewka is currently being registered for national appellation within the European Union. Unlike ordinary liqueurs, nalewkas are usually aged. Taste-wise, it is similar to apple and fruit-flavored brandies such as calvados or eau-de-vie (or Canadian maple syrup-infused whiskey), but is much sweeter, almost liqueur-like.
The name is also misleadingly used for a variety of alcoholic cocktails sold in Poland, usually of low quality and low content of alcohol. It could also be confused with its false friend cognate, Eastern European nalivka (Russian, Ukrainian: наливка), popular in Ukraine at least since the 17th century and in Russia at least since the 19th century. While the Polish nalewka is an infusion, i.e., made by infusing the berry/herb/fruit flavour into hard liquor, the Ukrainian/Russian nalivkas are made by filling the jar with berries, sugar and water, sealing it, and letting the content ferment for about 6 months. Thus, the Ukrainian/Russian nalivkas are much weaker (usually containing not more than 18–20% of alcohol), sweeter and have a more concentrated berry aroma. The proper name for a Russian analogue of a Polish nalewka would be nastoika, infusion. (Russian: настойка, Ukrainian: настоянка, literally, tincture). Large well-stocked Russian bars feature hundreds of such nastoikas, made by infusing various herbs (e.g., tarragon), vegetables (e.g., pepper, horseradish), fruits (e.g., lemon) and berries (e.g., cranberry) into vodka. For example, Stolichnaya exports 15 various nastoikas.
Most nalewkas have their proper name derived either from their main ingredient or from the name of their traditional place of production. The recipes for nalewkas were at times kept secret by some of the szlachta families, and they were only given to the senior children upon the death of the father. Common ingredients of nalewkas are fruits, herbs, spices, coffee, honey, sugar, and molasses. Some examples of ingredients:
- Anise (anyżówka)
- Apricots (morelówka)
- Blackcurrants (porzeczkówka)
- Cherries (wiśniówka)
- Common hawthorn (głogówka)
- Cornus mas (dereniówka)
- Ginger (imbirówka)
- Green Persian walnuts (orzechówka)
- Juniper (jałowcówka)1
- Wormwood (piołunówka)
- Lucyna Ćwierczakiewiczowa (1858). Jedyne praktyczne przepisy... (in Polish). Warsaw, Gebethner i Wolff. p. 264. ISBN 83-7386-071-1.
- Jan Rogala (2003). Nalewki zdrowotne, czyli 102 przepisy na alkohol który wspomaga organizm (in Polish). Warsaw, Baobab. p. 108. ISBN 83-89642-00-X.
- Grzegorz Russak. "Nalewki staropolskie – chluba przeszłości, nadzieja przyszłości". Polonia.org (in Polish). Krefeld: Polonia Świata. Retrieved 2006-07-10.
- Zdzisław T. Nowicki (2002). Domowe piwa, cydry, wina, nalewki, likiery i kremy (in Polish). Gdynia, Galion. p. 324. ISBN 83-909329-3-8.
- Jan Makosiński (1911). Przepisy do przyrządzania wódek, rozolisów, rumów, araków, likierów, cognaców, esencyi ponczowych, krupników i grogu (in Polish). Kraków-Kielce, Avis. p. 43.
- Наливки на водке и без нее http://www.ermak.su/vodka/nalivki.htm
- John Frederick Erdmann (1825). "Manners and Customs of the Russians in the Government of Kasan". The cabinet of foreign voyages and travels. London: Treuttel & Würtz. p. 81.
- (Russian) "Наливка". Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary. Leipzig-St. Petersburg: Brockhaus and Efron. 1890–1906. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
- (Russian) "Наливка". Great Soviet Encyclopedia (III ed.). Moscow: Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya. 1969–1978. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
- (Russian) "Наливка". Российский гуманитарный энциклопедический словарь 2 (I ed.). St. Petersburg: Гуманитарный издательский центр ВЛАДОС. 2002. ISBN 5-8465-0021-8. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
- (Russian) "Настойка". Малый Академический Словарь русского языка 2 (IV ed.). Moscow: RAS Linguistic Studies Institute, Poligrafresursy. 1999. Retrieved 2011-02-14.
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