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Gdansk, a 1000 year old Polish city located on the Baltic coast, is known for the largest brick church in the world, for its enchanting Old Town, and world-famous cultural events such as the Shakespeare Festival and FETA. However, every alcohol connoisseur will immediately associate Gdansk with Goldwasser.
Goldwasser is a sweet herbal and root liqueur (35% ABV) and it’s famous for small flakes of 22-23 karat gold suspended in each bottle. It has been produced since at least 1598 in Gdansk. The original recipe for Goldwasser includes over 20 herbs and roots, such as cardamom, coriander, juniper, cinnamon, wild orange, lavender, thyme and cloves. The gold was added for luck. From a more pragmatic perspective, the precious flakes floating in the beverage were a marketing idea so clever that the producers surely haven’t had to worry about gold a day in their lives.
Nowadays, the taste is described as similar to that of the orange liqeur Cointreau or Grand Marnier. A sip of Goldwasser tastes like aniseed, cinnamon and liquorice. While it’s sweet, the sweetness is balanced by alcohol and spicy cinnamon. It can be drank over the rocks or with champagne.
Interestingly, Goldwasser is a topic of one of the city’s legends. The legend exists in two radically different versions. The first one states that Neptune (a famous statue of a Roman god of sea and freshwater located in the Old Town) grew angry because time after time the visitors and townspeople threw coins into his fountain. One day, he hurled his trident into the fountain, smashing the coins to smithereens. The golden flakes were then used to produce Goldwasser.
A more positive version tells a story about Neptune being in a transport of joy owing to the coins beneath his feet and rewarding the townspeople by… turning water into an alcoholic beverage. Nice work, Neptune.
Goldwasser is also used to make the famous Souffle Rothschild… but that’s a (delicious) story for another time.
(I hereby declare that I have been awarded The G. D. Fahrenheit scholarship)
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham