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Prague: ARTĚL Style

Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

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Dining & Drinking

Must-Try Czech Summer Beverages

Published on July 28th, 2016 in Dining & Drinking

  • Kofola, c.1960 (source: Kofola facebook page)

 

Beer is hands down the preferred thirst quencher of Czechs, who consume the most beer per capita in the world, not just during the steamy days of summer but year round. But what about those like me who don't do beer or who are teetotalers in general? These are a few of the unique beverages that I recommend you try should you happen to find yourself visiting during the warmer months:

 

 

Raspberry soda

Probably the most beloved, especially among those who came of age during the communist era when it was one of the few soft drinks available, is malinovka a fizzy non-alcoholic drink made from soda water and raspberry-flavored syrup. This pale pink beverage is ubiquitous at pubs, outdoor swimming pools, and lakes on hot summer days. In fact, the Czech soft-drink company Kolín produces about 1,500 barrels of malinovka daily during the summer months! Best served from the tap at one of Prague's finest beer gardens.

 

Malinovka (source: http://uzlatehohroznurakovnik.cz/

 

 

Elderflower lemonade

A local favorite with a really unique aroma and flavor, elderflower lemonade (bezinková limonáda) is another summer classic, summer being the time when a lot of Czech people make homemade syrups from summer fruits like elderberry, blackcurrant, and raspberry. You won't find this lemonade on tap, rather made with syrup, sparkling water, and lots of ice, and garnished with fresh mint. Find it on the menu at most cafes and restaurants, though you can't go wrong at one of the Home Kitchen bistro locations around Prague—they always make a delightful homemade lemonade!

 

Bezinková limonáda (source: http://unasnakopecku.blogspot.cz/)

 

 

Wine spritzer

Not exactly the kind of thing you ask for at finer dining establishments but the Czech take on the white wine spritzer (vinný střik), a heady 50/50 mix of Czech white wine and sparkling water served in a pint glass, is another popular beer garden classic that is also favored by students and those on a budget for its volume and cheap price tag. Týnská Literární Kavárna in Old Town is well-known for its generous wine spritzers which, according to Czech law, must be mixed in front of the customer. Best enjoyed here in the legendary courtyard.

 

Citrus vinný střik (source: www.kamzakrasou.sk/

 

 

The Czech Kool-Aid

A Czech friend of mine remembers large quantities of Vitacit, the Czech version of Kool-Aid, being consumed during hot weather though admits that it was just as appetizing to dip your finger in the powder crystals as if it were candy. Introduced in 1970, it came in just two flavors, strawberry and lemon. It is still on the market and available in additional flavors including orange and is an especially popular item during Lidl “Retro Week” although it can be purchased at most grocery stores for just 12 CZK.

 

Vitacit (source: www.akcniceny.cz/)

 

 

Kofola and other Czech sodas

This carbonated Czechoslovak-era soft drink whose primary ingredient was a dark sweet-and-sour syrup that was the result of a the surplus of caffeine produced in the coffee roasting process was introduced as an alternative to Western colas in the 1960s and is still overwhelmingly popular today, though the flavor is only based on the original recipe. Best when served on tap—try it at Prague's branded Kofola restaurant; Vinea is an unusual though highly refreshing wine-flavored soft drink from the 1960s, available in white, red, or rose. I prefer it from the glass bottles, though it's widely available at supermarkets in 1-liter plastic containers.

 

Mug of Kofola (source: Kofola facebook page)

  

 

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