Two luxurious items: homemade Ukrainian medivka and Żubrówka. First time I tried each of these spirits was during the Orange Revolution in a cafe in Lviv. Dzyha, before it renovated and became less of a 90s feeling western Ukrainian kavarnya. It's been six years to the day that I wrote "Day 6: Ukraine is not Africa," a journal entry from the Lviv 2004 notebook:
Symonenko and the Commumaniacs denounced oligarchic and bandit clans. He urged that falsifications hurt the KPU. Zaiets of Nasha Ukraina called for an open criminal court because the vlada promised free and fair elections but did not deliver. Ultranationalist Shkil of BYuT called Party of Regions criminals, and vowed that the Supreme Court would not rule in their favor. Ioffe of Party of Regions said that if this was democracy, it’s a strange type of one.
Several days, later on December 3, the Supreme Court would designate the 2nd round of presidential elections invalid, allowing Viktor Yushchenko to win the 3rd round of elections.
Back then I was sitting in the cafe straining Turkish coffee through my teeth. There was a moratorium on alcohol sales to make sure that the demonstrators were sober taking the orange events seriously. The barman said that he couldn't serve me brandy or vodka but that I could taste shot of medivka.
After getting back from Ukraine I happened to find some of this amber nectar at the Baltimore Ukrainian Festival (they even put cinnamon schnapps and use everclear). The recipe is here:
1-1/4 cups water
Zest of 1 orange, tangerine and/or lemon
3 whole cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup buckwheat honey
2-1/2 to 3 cups vodka
Place the water, citrus zest, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the water through a clean cotton cloth into another pot and add the honey. Bring to a simmer and skim the foam from the top. Add the honey mixture, and combine well. Cool, pour into bottles. Freeze.