You know that old saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade? Those people clearly never tried this magical elixir the Polish call cytrynówka. What is it you might ask? Keep reading and you’ll unlock the mysteries of this playful yet mysterious mistress.
….just to clarify, I’m talking about booze, not a person.
On my most recent trip to Poland, I was all about the cytrynówka. It’s just so refreshing and available in many places, but I found pubs or dive bars had the best flavoured cytrynówka. Cytrynówka is Polish lemon vodka. Well technically, it’s made from spirytus, which is like 95% (do not drink it straight) and is derived from ‘cytryna’ meaning lemon in Polish. I’m not going to spell it phonetically because you’re going to get it wrong anyway. Check out google translate if you’re curious.
You might be like, “Holy shit 95%?! You Polish people are crazy!” Well, yes. We don’t mess around when it comes to booze, but also, it gets diluted from all the other ingredients, so it’s about half as potent. In Canada, I don’t have access to 95% spirytus, so I bought the 76% kind at the liquor store. If you don’t have that either, vodka is fine….but it better be Polish. So help me God if you get Smirnoff….or anything Russian.
Some people compare cytrynówka to limoncello and those people clearly have never had cytrynówka. Limoncello has this overly sweet syrupy type of flavour. I personally don’t like it. And if you drink a whole bottle, you will be hating your life the next morning. Drink a whole bottle of cytrynówka, you’ll be fresh to death,…and not feeling like it!
This is a great shot or drink to have, not only because it’s refreshing and delicious, but you don’t get a hangover from it. Don’t believe me? Didn’t I tell you that cytrynówka was a playful AND mysterious mistress? I may not be a chemist or bartender, but from what I read online, cytrynówka doesn’t give you a hangover due to the lemons and honey. The lemons replenish your electrolytes while the honey helps absorb the nutrients into your body. Plus, in my experience, I didn’t have a hangover.
And don’t worry, it may be strong but it tastes great. Unlike my boss’ joke, you will not go blind. My other coworker tried it and he can still see. In fact, he told me his sight improved afterward*.
There are also a bunch of health benefits in cytrynówka. The lemons, obv, lots of good vitamins. Spirytus/Vodka, nature’s disinfectant. Literally, any stomach issues, throwback one of these cytrynówka shots. And then there’s the honey. I use unpasteurized honey which has a lot of enzymes and other stuff I have no idea about other than they’re good for you. One thing is that you don’t want to get the honey hot or it’ll break down all the enzymes and shit.
So enough yammering and onto the recipe – na zdrowie!
1 bottle of spirytus (750mL)
500 + 250 mL filtered water
½ cup honey
¼ cup sugar
2 Glass jars and bottles
First, boil water and pour it on the lemons. It helps melt off any gross stuff that is on the skin and it also preps the rind to get the most oil out of it. Peel off the rind with a vegetable peeler but avoid the white pith as it’s bitter in flavour. Put the rind into a 1L or larger glass jar.
Pour 250mL of the filtered water into that same glass jar with the lemon peels. I like boiling water and then once it cools, using that water for this recipe. Pour the whole bottle of spirytus into this jar. Let this sit and marinate for 24 hours. If you don’t have spirytus, you can use Polish vodka 🙂
Now back to the naked lemons. Carefully peel all of the white pith off the lemons. Yes, this is tedious but it’s important to remove it as it’ll make the cytrynówka bitter. Once the pith is off, slice up the lemons and put them into the second glass jar. This jar needs to hold about 1.5L or more. Don’t worry so much about the seeds. If I could pick them out, I did, but if they were deep in the lemon slice, I left them.
In a small pot, add the 500mL of water, honey and sugar. Melt the honey and sugar on low. If you put it any hotter, you’ll ruin the enzymes in the honey. You can do it if you want, but it would be dumb to do so…in my opinion….which is basically the only opinion in this blog. So your call.
When this mixture has melted, let it cool. Once cooled, add it to the jar with the naked lemons. Set aside for 24 hours. You can swirl the jars every so often.
The next day, you’ll basically have to strangle the juice of the lemon slices. I did this with a lemon press (actually, it’s for limes, but same diff) and then I put the leftover lemon guts into a metal strainer and pushed on them some more with a spoon until I couldn’t get any more juice out of them. This is going to take a while. Once you finish this, strain this lemon juice, which also has the honey and sugar in it.
In the other jar, strain out the lemon peels from the booze. Throw out the peels and pour the now yellow booze into the large jar with the lemon juice. My jar wasn’t big enough so I had to use a big glass bowl. Mix it all up and pour into glass bottles. Let these bottles sit for at least another 24 hours for the flavours to marry. Then cool them either in the fridge or freezer and have at ‘er!
And yes, I know this is a long one (that’s what she said), in both blog and recipe but sometimes good things take a while.
If you liked this blog, check out some of my other similar blogs: