Medovukha (Медовуха)

A drink of legends

When I mention drinks from Russia, can you think of anything besides vodka? (well, maybe if you're a Big Lebowski fan you're thinking of White Russians) And while the stereotypical drink is fairly prevalent and cheap here, I can assure you there is much more to be had. And there is one in particular that stands out, which in my mind is worthy of this first post.

One of the first things to catch me by surprise when first arrived to this country was the abundance of honey and bee-related products. If you happen to find yourself in the country or a small town (or pretty much anywhere besides Moscow and Petersburg), you'll likely see someone on every street corner, usually a babushka, selling an extensive array of honey products. And besides the obvious, this can contain lotions, beeswax candles, bee pollen, and honey beverage containing alcohol called Medovukha (Медовуха).

Containing roughly the same alcohol percentage as beer (5-6%), the drink is made from fermented honey and is, as a result, pretty sweet and goes down very easy. It's almost like hard cider, but better and usually with more added spices. You can find it in stores and supermarkets pretty regularly, but unfortunately those brands are bland and unnecessarily expensive. Your best bet is to find one of these babushka-run honey stands and buy directly from the homemade source. This is what I did during my trip to Suzdal.

At first, I wasn't planning on getting anything because I would later have to transport it on a three hour train ride, but when I saw this one particular babushka selling five different kinds of the drink (each with a unique shade and color), I was drawn into temptation. I had to know more, and when I asked about the differences, she let me sample each one. One had berries, another ginger,a third with some type of flower, and the other two with spiced I'd never heard of before. But there was one thing they did have in common. Their tastes were magical. It was as if she had cast some sort of sorcery on my tastebuds, beckoning them to want more. Now, you may think I'm joking here, but remember how I said I was not going to buy any? Well, I ended up buying not one but two 2-liter bottles (ginger and one mystery spice). And it cost me a grand total of 500 rubles ($8).