Although the Czechs produce some of the best beer in the world, the Czechs also exclusively produce a luxurious liqueur called Becherovka, which is a must-taste for any visitor to the CzechRepublic .
Becherovka is a 76 proof liqueur with has the unique, spicy aroma of cinnamon —though there are more than thirty other herbs also blended and slowly dissolved into the alcohol in a unique process. The exact ingredients and technique in making Becherovka was a secret of the Becher family until recently, then international liquor company Pernod Ricard bought the company and obtained the recipe as a company trade secret.
The liqueur was invented in 1807 by Jan Becher, a pharmacist who lived in the Famous spa town Karlovy Vary — also known as “Carlsbad” in English — and originally sold his new concoction as a “medicinal tonic”, although it is now classified as a “digestive apéritif”.
If you would like to try one before experiencing a traditional Czech lunch or dinner, look under the listing of apéritifs on the menu, and remember not to order a Betcherovka. When ordering the drink, pronounce the name “Beckerovka” and not “Betcherovka”. The Czech “ch” is quite different (very similar to the “ch” in the classical composer Johannes Sebastian Bach’s name).
Czechs drink Becherovka as a round of shots (called a panak) when they meet friends for an evening out on the town. It is traditional that each member of the party buys a round for everyone else.
Becherovka is also used to make cocktails, a wide variety of which you can obtain in good night clubs, although you can also get the most popular drink, called a “beton,” in any pub or club in the country. A “beton” is mix of Becherovka and tonic water, BeTon; Czechs are amused by the name because “beton” also means “concrete,” and “na beton” (in concrete) is an informal Czech idiom that means “for sure, certainly.” If you hear someone yell “Beton na beton!” You can be sure they are going to have a Becherovka and tonic.
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