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I've mentioned elsewhere that Zubrowka and Pan Tadeusz are my favoured Polish vodkas - this is another pretty prevalent one, although I can't say as I'm nearly as fond of it. Just as Zubrowka is often served mixed with apple juice to make a "szarlotka", or apple pie (and is all the better for it), I've come across Zoladkowa (something like "zhu-wont-kova" ... feel free to correct me) drunk with orange juice. Unfortunately, the addition of the juice doesn't have the same transformative effect that happens with Zubrowka. Made with a range of herbs and infused with fruits, this is described as a "bittersweet" vodka - I get plenty of bitter, but not so much of the sweet. I like neat vodka, and I like it used with a mixer, but I don't think this is particularly pleasant in either case; drunk neat, the herbs only serve to muddy the clean taste of the vodka, and leave an unpleasant aftertaste that begs to be washed away. Mixed with orange juice, it does give a strong bitter twist, but personally the result isn't to my taste. Perhaps there are juices that mix better with this, and I've been misled by the addition of orange ... in which case humble apologies. Otherwise, I'm not impressed. Zoladkowa also comes in honey and mint varieties - both of which are pretty medicinal and excessively lingering. In a country that is justifiably proud of its vodka production, this isn't a highlight for me. I haven't come across it in the UK, but you could probably track it down if you were particularly motivated to do so. I would suggest it isn't worth the effort. There are some great Polish vodkas out there, but this isn't one of them.
I came across this about 3 years ago on a trip to Warsaw. Of all the different vodkas we tried while we were there this was the clear favourite. It slips down so smoothly with its delicious smooth flavour and is deceptively easy to drink. One evening a group of us did some heavy damage to a few bottles of this and had far more than we probably should have. The next morning when I woke up I was absolutely as clear as a bell, as if I had been drinking water the previous evening. Quite extraordinary. At that time you couldn't get it in the UK. Thankfully you can now through several online outlets. You've got to try it, I'm not even a vodka drinker usually, but this stuff is so different to your standard vodka. Drink it neat, either straight from the bottle or keep the bottle in the freezer.
Zoladkowa Gorzka is a Polish brand of vodka which is amber coloured and sweet smelling, the name means "bitter stomach" but the vodka couldn't be much different as it's sweet and pretty easy to drink, it has been produced in Lublin since 1957 and is a very popular brand in Poland. Made of dried fruit and herbs it comes in two different kinds - Wodka Zoladkowa Gorzka Korzenna z Miodem, which is the honey variety and Wodka Zoladkowa Gorzka z Mieta which is the minty one. Both of them are very tasty and are left to lie before being bottled. A good drink is "Aurora" which was supposedly named like that after being created in New Wave pub Aurora (which closed this year 2008) in Warsaw. What you need is: A shot glass that has been in the freezer (or several if you don't want to drink alone!) Natural Squeezed Lemon Juice (cold) Zoladkowa Gorzka Honey flavour Take out the frozen glass and pour 50/50, enjoy! This drink is really tasty and works out perfectly.
Bittersweet aperitif of rectified spirits, sugar syrup and infusions of unripe oranges, with extracts of a selection of herbs and spices - 40% alc/vol (80 Proof)