Karlovy Vary’s famous drink
Have you ever heard of the drink Becherovka? We hadn’t, until our trip to Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. However, it is apparently available in the UK. Karlovy Vary is the home of this unique drink, and we were invited to visit the former Becherovka factory, where the drink was produced from its beginnings in 1867, to 2010. Nowadays, the site houses a museum, where visitors can learn about the company’s history and taste the products.
The drink has a very strange story surrounding its concoction. An English Count visited the house of Jan Becher, and gave him a strange recipe for the ‘elixir of life’. Becher made the recipe and never looked back, going on to win prestigious awards and worldwide success. To this day, the recipe is so secret that it had to be transported by lock and key when the factory moved. Indeed, only two people know the actual recipe!
The museum is short, but perfectly sufficient. An audio guide tells the story whilst you peruse the displays on the ground floor. They include the oldest bottle type (known then as Becher’s Englisch Bitter), and designs for Becherovka bottles and glasses.
Downstairs, there are reconstructions of many scenes in the production of the drink. The smell when you enter this room is overpowering, in a very good way. I think that they should offer a Becherovka Yankee Candle, which would surely be a success. You can see the process, from mixing the spices that are used, to storing in huge oval-shaped barrels, to bottling.
Don’t worry – you WILL get chance to taste some Becherovka
Reconstructions of important scenes in the drink’s history, such as Becher working on the recipe, and a map showing all of the places in the world that the drink is on sale, finish the museum part of the visit. From here, is what for most people will surely be the most interesting part – a tasting session.
We were shown to a huge tasting room, where tables had spaces marked out for three of the four flavours that Becherovka offers: original, lemond, and cordial. A waitress brings over your shots, and then the lights are dimmed for a movie, which professionally recaps the story and sets the scene for your tasting. We couldn’t wait to try them. The smell was enticing enough. The original flavour has a very strong taste, almost medicinal. It was very distinctive indeed.
The cordial flavour had a sweet flavour, almost like a sherry. The lemond flavour was predictable in its flavour, but delicious. All of them left you with a warm feeling inside. The fourth flavour, KV14, is available for a very reasonable price, if you’d like to try that too. On top of this, there is a discount offered in the shop, so you can stock up on all the Becherovka you need. Just in case you can’t find any in your local supermarket or off licence!
A visit to the Jan Becher Museum is a must-do activity for anyone visiting the region of Karlovy Vary. It is most definitely the town’s most famous drink, if you don’t include its healing spa waters. You can buy the drink from many places across Karlovy Vary. Stalls shaped like the distinctive bottle can be found on the streets, such is its popularity.
Have you ever tried Becherovka?