Regional drinks – stay warm in Pomorskie

The history of Pomorskie drinks begins in the XVIth century, when Ambrosien Vermöllen, a Mennonite from Lier in Brabant, was accepted into the ranks of the Gdansk bourgeoisie. It was he who founded the first liqueur factory in Gdańsk.


In 1704, his descendant, Salomon Vermöller, moved the company to a building with a sign with the image of a salmon. It was at this moment that the history of the most famous liqueur factory in Gdansk, called Der Lachs, which means, Salmon, began to be created.

Ambrosien Vermöllen brought with him the recipe for the most famous Gdansk liqueur to this day, with a strong spicy taste and smell, thick consistency with swirling gold plates. Goldwasser, has become a legend. It was undoubtedly prepared in a complicated way, and today the methods of preparing Goldwasser are simply speculated upon. The authentic recipe from the second half of the XVIth century has not been preserved; it was probably passed down orally and was improved from time to time.

Goldwasser, photo: Goldwasser Restaurant

Goldwasser, photo: Goldwasser Restaurant

Broadly speaking: various roots, herbs, and a bit of sandalwood and rosewood were added to strong aniseed or cognac. It was seasoned with sugar and thin sheets of gold. Experts on the subject believe that the claims of German producers that they have the original recipe for the production of Goldwasser are simply a publicity stunt. However, there are several comparative recipes. Alcohol recipes don’t change quickly. Based on universal principles, we know that the roots macerate for about 6 weeks. Distillation takes about 2 weeks. “Catching” sugar for three months. In addition, mandatory “educate” of the drink lasting at least a year.

At the beginning of the XVIIth century, vodka was produced (burned) in Gdansk on such a scale that there was a shortage of firewood in the city. From 1620, the authorities began to issue annual licenses for making vodka. In addition to “roasting” inexpensive vodka, luxurious varieties flavoured with herbs and roots were produced in Gdansk. The most popular was rye vodka, sometimes wheat or plums were used for distillates. Straight booze, named “frantowka” or “szumowka”, had a smell known to every modern moonshine producer and contained approximately 18 percent of alcohol.

After the second distillation, “prostka” was obtained, and after the third distillation, spirit with 70 percent was obtained. After diluting with water to 30% “straight vodka” was created. It was also used to “burn” this vodka with various herbs and flowers in special stills. The end result was, for example, aniseed, caraway, ratafia. The famous Lilien Kornfallgen was used as a heart medicine, the main ingredient of which were lily of the valley flowers. The spicy double stomach vodka was also famous.

At the end of the Middle Ages, vodka had the status of medicines, anise was used as a cough medicine, turmeric facilitated digestion, and similarly ginger, which also had a warming effect. Alchemists perfected the distillation process. Since base yeast was used to produce vodka, the distillate had a terrible odour. The addition of roots partially eliminated it. Vermöllen’s genius was that he composed Goldwasser in accordance with XVIth-century medical and culinary theories.

Goldwasser was a medicine consumed with unquestionable pleasure. Pleasure over time replaced the healing potential in favor of the social status of drinkers: Empress Catherine II the Great purchased Goldwasser for 5,152 guilders in 1767. In the XVIIIth century, Der Lachs gained worldwide fame as a producer of liqueurs, among others. Dubelt Goldenwasser, Cordial, Pomeransen, Kalmuss, Cordamon, Kurfirst, Naegelcken, Steinbrech. They were praised and praised in many works under the common name Krambambuli.

Machandel juniper vodka

Machandel juniper vodka was equally famous in Gdansk and the surrounding area. It was produced from 1776 in Nowy Dwor Gdanski. The label was founded by Dutch Mennonite Peter Stobbe. Before tasting, you had to undergo mandatory training on how to drink the drink properly:

  • A dried plum skewered on a toothpick was placed in an empty glass
  • Juniper juice was poured into the glass
  • Then you had to eat the plum, keeping the pit under your cheek.
  • Then the vodka was drunk the bottoms up, but the seed had to be kept in its place.
  • You had to spit the stone into an empty glass when the vodka was already in your stomach.
  • The next stage is breaking the toothpick, like a ship’s mast being destroyed by a storm.

Unfortunately, the owners burned down the factory in 1945 before the arrival of the Red Army. Currently, Machandel is produced in Hamburg.


The famous alcohol associated with Kashuby is called “Kartuzyanka”, Kashubian stomach essence produced in the past by the Kartuzy pharmacist Bernard Pinkowski. It was supposed to strengthen the stomach, increase appetite and speed up digestion.

Alojzy Ruchniewicz, born in 1867 in Koscierzyna, founded one of the largest liqueur and vodka factories in West Prussia in Grudziadz in 1880. Ruchniewicz specialized in tinctures: „Cherry”, „Nastojka”, „Bernardynka”, „Dogwood”, „Karpatowka”, „Kartuzjanka”, „Nadwislanka” and „Senatorska”. He achieved great success at the International Fair in Brussels in 1896, where he won a gold medal for the exhibited herbal aperitifs, rums, araks, wines, burnts and vanilla cream. The most popular was arrack, prepared by macerating anise, exotic fruits, cocoa beans and vanilla, with the addition of caramel to improve its colour. “Nastojka”, a pure “Sarmatian” vodka with a strength of 40%, was also praised.

Apparently, every tincture, especially the one that burns only in the stomach, contains goodness and health. The tradition of making regional liqueurs has become an element of culture. The official List of Traditional Products created in 2004 by the Ministry of Agriculture includes 14 Pomorskie drinks with a documented history of production.

Currently, it is difficult to find places where you can try regional drinks, but among Pomorskie restaurants there are several places that focus on traditional, Old Gdansk flavours, although sometimes in a modern version. To feel the taste of Mechandel or Goldwasser, it is worth going to the Bowke Restaurant at the Long Embankment in Gdansk or the Piwna 47

Beer in the Bowke Restaurant, photo: promotion materials

Beer in the Bowke Restaurant, photo: promotion materials



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