I’ve talked about Ukrainian drinks on this blog before but I thought our drinking culture was worth another guide, specifically Ukrainian alcoholic drinks.
If you haven’t tried any beverages from Ukraine yet, I’m telling you, you’re missing out on a unique experience.
Of course, I’m not encouraging you to get drunk—you should always exercise caution when consuming alcohol!
However, exploring some of the drink specials in Ukraine can be a great way to learn about the country’s culture.
So prepare for some alcoholic content, whether you’re here to drink or just to learn!
12 Ukrainian Alcoholic Drinks
If you’d like some traditional dishes to go with the drinks below, check out these amazing snack ideas from Ukraine.
This strong alcoholic beverage known as horilka, horivka, or okovyta (meaning “water of life” in Latin) is produced from purified alcohol.
This traditional Ukrainian spirit is made from potatoes or grain and is drunk on festive occasions; it is quite fiery!
The alcohol content of horilka is around 40%, making it a potent drink. It is often consumed neat or used as a base for cocktails.
Samohon, also known as moonshine, is the name given to homemade horilka. Sugar beet or beet sugar is the primary modern raw material for its production.
The most common way of serving horilka is with borshch, salo and rye bread.
Since the time of Kyivan Rus’, the honey-based beverage known as medovukha has been enjoyed by many Ukrainians.
This mead-like fermented honey drink is a delightful alcoholic concoction with a silky sweetness.
Using brandy alcohol and carefully chosen cherries, Piana Vyshnia creates a moderately sweet tincture.
In 2015, Piana Vyshnia unveiled its inaugural location on Rynok Square in Lviv.
My friends and I indulge love an occasional glass of Piana Vyshnia, which is sold at a store in my town as well. In the winter, it can be served hot, which enhances my enjoyment of it even more.
If you want something sweet to go with it, these tempting Ukrainian cakes are a great pairing!
The Kyiv Mule is a modern spin on an old favorite; it’s a refreshing Ukrainian cocktail, created with ginger beer, lime, and traditional horilka.
This contemporary drink pays homage to the dynamic culinary scene in the Ukrainian capital.
Ukrainian vodka or liquor, dried fruits, raisins, honey, cinnamon, and other spices are mixed to make the traditional hot drink called varenukha.
Even though it has fallen out of popularity over the years, this traditional Ukrainian beverage is still part of Ukrainian drinking culture.
A traditional alcoholic beverage from ancient Ukraine, kontabas is made with currant tincture. It can also be pronounced as kantabas or kantabal.
While it was once widespread across Ukraine, today it’s made mostly in Transcarpathia. The tincture improves with age, making it a desirable alcoholic beverage for the elite.
In contrast to tinctures, which are made from blackcurrant fruits, kontabas is made only from the buds of the plant.
Malynivka is a delicious tincture of raspberries and horilka. Its analogue is the Himbeergeist, common in southern Germany and the Alsace region (France).
This Ukrainian drink is a tasty alcoholic beverage and a cold cure all rolled into one. It works best with wild forest raspberries.
Kalhanivka, or kalhanka, is a traditional bitter tincture made with horilka and galangal. The classic tincture is made from the root of wild galangal, which is scientifically known as Alpinia officinarum.
Home alcohol enthusiasts particularly admire this authentic drink for its taste and simple recipe.
Kalhanivka is known as a smooth drink and isn’t supposed to cause any side effects of alcohol consumption if drunk in moderation.
A classic pertsivka recipe calls for horilka spiked with fiery red pepper for a bitter tincture. With its delicate honey flavor and smoky pepper kick, this drink is perfect for chilly weather.
Khrinovukha is a national alcoholic drink that calls for horilka and horseradish as its base. It’s an ancient drink that has been prepared since the Cossack era.
This drink has a unique flavor profile and is best served as an aperitif or just to spice up a festive table!
If you find these taste combos a bit weird or intriguing, wait until you see what these strange Ukrainian foods have to offer!
Cytrynivka is a citrus-based drink—a Ukrainian tincture of horilka with lemon. It’s made with the addition of coriander and clove for some spice.
It’s been popular since the 19th century when citrus fruits became more accessible in Ukraine.
Originally prepared at home, nalyvka is an alcoholic beverage that is an infusion of fruit or herbs.
These days, you’ll most often find fruit and berry wines that have been fortified with sugar or even horilka (vodka/moonshine).
This bright, sophisticated dessert drink can be easily prepared yourself. Check out below how my father used to make it!
- 13.5 oz horilka (400 ml)
- 2.2 lb cherry (1 kg)
- 1 pinch cinnamon and nutmeg (1 g)
- 8.8 oz sugar (250 g)
- Mash cherries together with pits, put in a glass jar, add horilka and spices and leave for 8 days in a warm place.
- Filter the finished mixture, add sugar and put in a dark place until the sugar dissolves.
I hope you enjoy the Ukrainian flavors of these drinks! Share your favorites in the comments.
If you’re looking for more delicious drinks, you might also enjoy my article on classic beverages from Croatia.