Czech Alcohol

Beer

Drunk any time, everywhere, and in copious quantities. The standard measure is half a liter (a bit over a pint); the glasses are called simply “half-liters.” There is also “small beer,” which is 330 ml. That, however, is drunk rarely, e.g. as the last one for the road when you just can’t hold any more water, when in a hurry, by those expecting to drive later (note: No blood alcohol is allowed when driving in the Czech Republic. DUI penalties are stiff.), etc. Drinking five (large) beers in a night is a mediocre performance. Most serious beer drinkers regularly drink 10 or more, and 15 is not that uncommon. Hardened beer-guzzlers can do 20 or more beers in a night.

Wine

The primary vine-growing region of the Czech Republic is Southern Moravia, in the eastern part of the country. In Moravia, wine is considerably more popular than beer, which dominates in Bohemia (roughly the western half of the country). In some parts of Moravia (particularly the north), plum brandy is also very popular. Moravian white wines are excellent, although red wines are usually mediocre, as even the sunniest parts of Moravia have barely enough sunlight to grow red varieties.

Becherovka

A distillate made from a wide variety of herbs. Its taste is highly specific, making it quite popular.

Vaječný likér (Eggnog)

Many people make their own for Christmas, from local rum, eggs, and cream.

Tuzemský rum (Czech “Rum”)

Marketing this spirit as “rum” has been banned for several years now, as it isn’t really rum at all. It’s about as close to rum as China is to democracy. Thus, its bottles are now marked usually as “Tuzemák.” It is made from food alcohol (potato distillate), “Essence of Rum,” and other flavors. A traditional drink in low-class Czech pubs and taprooms, distinguished mainly by its low price. It is also considered essential in one of the most popular
local outdoor activities – canoeing.

Fernet Stock

The Czech version of the originally Italian Fernet herbal liquor. Very bitter. Commonly nicknamed the “dead lover’s breath” (probably a play on a famous Czech 19th-century poem) and “coffin varnish” (for its color, odor, and consistency, as well as effects of abuse, most likely).

Zelená (literally, The Green; Peppermint Liquor)

A sticky, sweet, peppermint-flavored green liquor. The poor man’s Pastis. Very popular at proms, country hoedowns, as canoe ballast, and so on.

Slivovice (Plum Brandy)

A strong (80 proof or more, up to 140 proof when home-made) plum distillate. Most families in Moravia seem to have their own still (permit, shmermit). Variants are made from pears, apples (essentially imitation Calvados), apricots, walnuts,… actually, pretty much anything that can be distilled.