The eighteenth century was the golden age of Russian cuisine. The variety of dishes on the table corresponded to the wealth of accompanying drinks: kvas, braga, pivo (beer), vodka, nastoyka, sbiten, erofeich and nalivka.Nalivka is the alcohol drink of 18 century. The name comes from the adjective “nalivnoy”, meaning ripen, beautiful and pure.
To make real nalivka is necessary to follow three principal rules. Only high quality vodka and different, but ripen, pure, whole and undamaged berries or fruits are used for this drink.
You can cut solely apples, pears or pineapples. Fill the bottle for 2/3 and pour over vodka, then leave to brew for 2 months, as a rule. But there were special terms for some fruits: pineapple nalivka should be brewed for 6 weeks, strawberry one – for 4 weeks, melon one – for 2 weeks.
The next important step is to strain nalivka, not squeezing juice from berries. To fortify the taste and smell, sugar is added to the beverage. And here goes the last significant thing – the mixture should be brought to a boil with sugar and cool down very quickly. Now comes the bottling and tasting of nalivka.
Nalivka, the only one among other alcohols, improves the taste with time and it depends on the quantity of sugar. The more sugar, the slower the perfection of taste. The quantity of sugar varied from 5% (men’s drinks) to 40% (women’s drinks). The most popular nalivkas were made from red and black current, gooseberries, plums, ashberries, raspberries, cherries and fruits.But tzar nalivka “vishniak” stays unsurpassed. This original and delicious drink is made as follows: fill with ripen, clean and safe cherries a good robust barrel with iron crampons. Pour over fresh honey, until empty places between berries are filled. Then cover the barrel tightly not to let to come into reaction with air. As a rule, the barrel was buried in the ground of the cellar for several months. This time is for fermentation and if the barrel is not solid or without iron crampons, it can be exploded. Three moths later, vishniak (cherry nalivka) is absolutely ready and the beverage can be bottled. This dark ruby palatable nectar doesn’t have high percentage of alcohol and is kept for many years in the cellar.
Nalivkas are served as dessert, with tea, coffee and are added to sweets, jellies and drinks.
That can be easily made at home. All you need is high quality water and ripen berries. For the beginning it is better to make nalivkas from cranberries or ashberries. Put berries carefully in a glass bottle and pour over vodka. Leave the bottle in a warm place, for instance, near the heating. You can taste the drink even two weeks later, but the perfect taste is developed in a month. The bring nalivka to a boil with sugar syrup and cool down quickly. Now you can bottle it and wait for unexpected guests with relief.
At present you always have a really delicious beverage to treat them! Bon appetit!