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A glass of cold summer refreshment

 

Popular summer drinks in Slovenia

Slovenia has four typical seasons. In the winter, we warm up with homemade tea and other warm drinks, and in the summer, we seek refreshing drinks that quench our thirst and cool us down. They are best served in a shade with a nice breeze and good company. So what do we drink in the summer?

The first thing that comes to mind is probably natural drinking water, which is available everywhere in Slovenia. It comes from our taps at home, from drinking fountains in the towns and cities, and from springs and wells in the mountains. Reusable water bottles are encouraged, since we are systematically reducing the use of plastics as the first sustainable country in the world. We are also educating our visitors on this topic.

clean water in Slovenia
Photo: Ciril Jazbec

Slovenian water can also be healing. Two very special springs can be found in two health resort towns. The first mineral water sprang from the Radenci healing spring, and today everybody knows its logo with three red hearts. Nearby, in Rogaška Slatina, a water rich in minerals (magnesium, calcium, sulfates, hydrogencarbonates) and other elements (CO2) springs to the surface. It has a beneficial effect on the body and has proven healing properties.

mineral water Donat Mg
Photo: Dražen Štader

Syrup, juice, or iced tea?

People in Slovenia love making homemade juices and syrups, as well as iced teas, which are becoming more and more popular.

We have a long tradition of preparing homemade syrups in various different flavours, mostly from seasonally available ingredients. Our ancestors drank lemonades and syrups made from plants found in their gardens or nearby forests. They picked raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants and cranberries, soaked them in water and cooked them into a syrup that was diluted with water before drinking. These recipes are still used today, but the specifics of the process are different in each household. An incredible variety of flavours can be found, from the already mentioned berry syrups and elderflower syrup to syrups made from lemon balm, mint, lavender and other herbs, or from rose petals, dandelion flowers, linden, or spruce buds. Fruit juices only became popular around a hundred years ago. The fruit that is most often pressed into juice is apples. Apple trees are by far the most common fruit trees in Slovenia. Today, at least fifty different varieties can be found. Pear juice is also common, as well as grape juice in the wine-growing areas. We also like to drink strawberry, blueberry, apricot and peach juices, to name just a few.

In the last couple of years, we have also been drinking more homemade iced teas, which are much easier to prepare. The base for them is tea, of course, usually herbal tea. Many people in Slovenia like to pick herbs for their tea and dry them at home, like they were taught by their grandmothers and grandfathers. When tea is infused and cooled down, we add ice and various fresh herbs or other ingredients. You will often find mint, lemon balm, lavender and other herbs, or grated ginger and a drop of lemon in a glass of iced tea. It can also be spiced up with strawberries, blueberries and other fruit, like a slice of apple or apricot.

picking herbs
Photo: Jošt Gantar

Fermented refreshment

Before apples were pressed into juice, they were made into cider. This is one of the oldest cultural drinks. We could describe it, in very simple terms, as fermented apple juice. It has different names in different corners of Slovenia: jabolčnik, tukle, tolkec, tolkovec, tokc, or most often, mošt. Traditionally, apples were not ground, but beaten into small pieces before being pressed. The tradition of fermenting apples has spread to all the apple-growing areas. Apple trees were spread across Europe by the Romans more than 2000 years ago. This refreshing drink, with 5 to 8 percent alcohol by volume and a lot of vitamin C, is known as cider in many countries abroad.

We must also mention another fermented drink. Kombucha is a natural non-alcoholic drink made by fermenting tea and sugar. It is low in sugar and full of vitamins. The use and making of kombucha in home kitchens has become more and more popular in the last couple of years. The first Slovenian kombucha brands have already sprung up, for example BeLife, Ayatana and Doctor Kombucha, which make kombucha in various flavours.

cider from Koroška
Photo: Tomo Jeseničnik

Slovenia - a country of craft beer

The most popular and oldest alcoholic beverage in the world also has a special place in the hearts of Slovenian people. In the last decade, we have seen a veritable beer brewing revolution. We can hardly keep up with the number of new craft breweries. It is even harder to keep track of the extreme variety of different styles and flavours that are brewed daily, from low-alcohol mixed fermentation sour beers to pale, red and dark lagers and ales, with or without spruce buds, Piran sea salt, or even chili, to name just a few. All these and other beers can be found at Slovenian micro-breweries Reservoir Dogs, Lobik, Barut, Maister, Pelicon, Tektonik, Human Fish, Green Gold Brewing, HopsBrew, Ressel, Mali Grad, Loo-blah-nah and many others.

Creative cocktails

The international classic, a gin and tonic cocktail, is also very popular in Slovenia. Considering our tradition of making juniper brandy, this is not that surprising. The Karst juniper brandy is a natural brandy with a Protected geographical indication. I It is completely unique compared to other countries, as the production process differs completely from similar drinks made elsewhere. It is made from hand-picked juniper berries through double distillation in copper kettles.

But we also make excellent gin. With a pinch of tradition and a heap of commitment, the Broken Bones gin distillery from Ljubljana, specifically their London Dry Gin, won the 2020 award for the best gin in Europe, even beating gins from the UK.

best gin in Europe 2020 - Broken Bones
Photo: Broken Bones

Broken Bones is not the only distillery making excellent gin in Slovenia. There is also Gin Brin, the first Slovenian craft gin, Bratinov gin, and Santei Gin, which was the first that was made from their own wine distillate with 19 local herbs growing in the Karst region and on the slopes of Nanos, and is truly gluten-free.

We must also mention the Karakter gin from Bohinj, and the Monologue gin, which is made by chef Tomaž Kavčič, who was awarded a Michelin star in 2020. There are also the Koglot gin, Limbaygin and GiniBee. The GiniBee brand also makes the first and only Slovenian sugar-free tonic. Other local tonics are also available, each with a special set of characteristics. During the summer, we like to spice up our gin and tonic, just like our iced tea, with herbs or fruit.

gin ice cream
An ice cream refreshment with gin by chef Tomaž Kavčič
Photo: Ciril Jazbec, Tent Film

Slovenia is a wine-growing country, and in the summer, we like to cool down with wine-based cocktails. The lightest in calories and the easiest to make is the ever-popular spritzer or špricer. Dry wine, usually white, but also red, is mixed with sparkling water in a 1:1 ratio. Another option you will often find on the menu is the refreshing Hugo cocktail, made from sparkling wine with elderflower syrup, fresh mint and a slice of lime. You can make it at home using different syrups and herbs, or try the one bottled by the Radgonske gorice wine cellar. And we must not forget the latest summer hit, the French 75 cocktail, which combines gin and sparkling wine.

There is so much choice during hot summer days that you can always cool down in any way you fancy at any particular moment. Let us just remind you that all the suggested beverages are also perfect for warm spring and autumn days.

Taste more.

Learn about the story od Slovenian gastronomy. Discover local culinary and wine specialties.

Read more