Do you drink vodka? You’re probably doing it wrong.

Vodka should be drunk at room temperature and not necessarily sipped with anything. Sound like a joke? It turns out that this drink, which is deeply rooted in the Polish tradition, can be enjoyed – provided you know how to do it properly. This is what we talk about with Dawid Bujar, a bartender and brand ambassador of Żubrówka.

Łukasz Piątek, Interia: You drink vodka and you still get paid for it.

Dawid Bujar: – That is why almost everyone tells me that I have the best job in the world. But it should rather be said that I taste vodka and I teach vodka tasting to others.

Vodka is usually not associated with exquisite taste.

– Because nobody taught us how to taste it. In Poland we have this problem that we do everything with vodka but we don’t taste it. My task is to show people that drinking vodka is not about getting – colloquially speaking – wasted.

So who do you teach?

– I travel around Poland and pass on my knowledge to bartenders, restaurant owners, hotels and so on. I have already taught my friends.

I have observed the reactions of people to whom you told at dinner that in a moment you will show them how to drink vodka at room temperature, without sipping. What’s more, you risked saying that from that moment on they wouldn’t want to drink it any other way. Rather, no one took you seriously.

– This reaction is always the same: “What do you mean, warm vodka? Without sipping?”. It is ingrained in the consciousness of Poles that vodka should be drunk cold. In addition, it is best to drink it with something that will kill its taste. That’s why I love the reaction of people when they drink vodka the way I teach them. Everyone is delighted, and this is the greatest reward for me. I show that vodka can taste good, but in order to taste good, it must not be frozen, but at room temperature or slightly cool, and it should not be sipped.

So how to drink vodka?

– Let’s start with the fact that vodka is not the same as vodka. If we taste vodka of poor quality, then whatever we do, it will be disgusting. That’s why you should choose alcohol from proven and reputable producers. But let’s get down to business: first rinse your mouth with water to clean your taste buds. Then take a sip of vodka – about 20-30 milliliters, rinse your mouth with it – yes, rinse – swallow, after swallowing exhale with your mouth, then inhale with your nose, exhale with your mouth.

– Yes. Immediately after swallowing the vodka, with the exhaled air we get rid of the unpleasant vapors that linger in the mouth. And it is the vapors that have a gigantic impact on the way we feel while drinking alcohol. Whisky, cognac and brandy can also be drunk in this way. When we get rid of the vapours, only the taste of the alcohol remains in our mouths – so if we’re tasting vodka which has been matured in oak barrels, we can feel the oak aftertaste and enjoy it.

What is a good vodka?

– Vodka made of good material – high quality grain and spirit. Then we can enjoy a good taste.

What does such method of tasting give, besides the taste itself?

– Generally speaking, it helps to tolerate alcohol. Certainly we have less hangover and headache. This is due to the fact that we do not introduce alcohol vapors into our body, which have a huge impact on our mood the next day.

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Which dishes go well with vodka?

– It is commonly accepted in Poland that if you drink, you eat fat. Fully agree. However, I also recommend vodka for fish or vegetarian dishes.

What products should I avoid while drinking?

– Absolutely avoid sugar, all sugary snacks and sodas. If we limit sugar during the party, we will be in good shape the next day.

And if you absolutely want to drink something with alcohol, what should it be?

– The simplest solutions are the best – still water with lemon. But when I say water with lemon, I don’t mean water with a squeezed and squeezed lemon, which looks like a bagel. Just a slice of lemon drenched in water.

Apparently you encourage people to consume vodka with all sorts of pickles. That’s already weird in general.

– Vodka has no limits. I’ve been starting to play with this lately, but I’m not the only one, because I’m not discovering America here – pickles go brilliantly with vodka. Combined with good quality vodka they make a very interesting proposition. We can call it a cocktail on pickles.

Give some example of such a cocktail.

– A simple sourdough starter from beets is enough. To it you can add some honey, lemon sour, vodka. Everything mixed thoroughly, served in a cocktail glass not only looks beautiful, but in addition you can say that it is healthy.

You work with bartenders, you are a recognized bartender yourself, so I am curious, what orders do bartenders dislike the most?

– In a place where there are a lot of people and bartenders have a lot of work to do, it’s not necessarily nice to order a mojito. It’s mainly about the time of preparation, because this cocktail requires more work and it makes a big mess.

A decade ago in Polish discos and clubs it was very fashionable to order malibu and kamikaze. Is it a shame to ask the bartender for such drinks nowadays?

– I wouldn’t say that ordering any drink is a disgrace. Yes, they were popular many years ago, but this was also due to the fact that bartenders had less products than today. So the range of drinks was small. In addition, bartenders did not have such knowledge because this industry was underdeveloped. Today it looks completely different.

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