Some call it 'balsam', others refer to it as 'bitters', however, the essence remains similar â it is a strong alcoholic drink (40-45 %) based solely on medicinal herbs, roots, tree bark and berries. The word 'balsam' originates from the Greek word 'balsamon' meaning therapeutic remedy. The natural ingredients chosen for a particular balsam remedy tend to create harmonious and rich aromas and bouquet of unique flavours.
It is believed that the very first balsamic liqueurs were created during the time of paganism, particularly, according to one version, having a strong relation to a drink based on numerous herbs known as 'Suria'. Often referred to as a drink of gods, which is probably one of the reasons why the recipes of the kind were guarded and kept secret by generations of witchdoctors and sorcerers known to possess the innermost secrets of Nature. Most of this priceless knowledge was by most part lost during the onset of Christianity and associated Inquisition, who burnt most such knowing individuals at stake, drowned or persecuted. Unfortunately, at that particular moment in time the term 'witch doctor' and 'sorcerer' distorted their meaning to imply the relevance to evil and black magic.
In Russia balsams became popular and widely use
Preparation and Properties
Very complex manufacturing processes are involved in production of balsams involving ingredient infusions, double distillations, individual ripening, mixing, filtration and final ripening. Some of the most important detains in the manufacturing process are kept secret to make the balsamic liqueurs exclusive, but that is understandable. As a result of the somewhat lengthy process of its preparation, most of balsams and bitters produced in insignificant amounts if co
Mostly, balsam liqueurs have been categorised geographically.
If you may wish to try one of the balsams of the modern Russia market, you may wish to consider the following three, which were rated for the best quality in 2001: "Debryansk", "Mordovskiy", and "Mashook".
How and When to take
Most of the existing balsams and bitters are taken as a drink in small amounts (for example, enough for just one sip), other with a much less pleasant taste like "Swedish Bitters" are taken in drops diluted in either water, tea or coffee. It is recommended as an aperitif before main meal for a better appetite, but may equally be taken after food as a substitute for a glass of brandy. I'm currently enjoying my teaspoon of Balsam "Drevniy", which is sweet with a taste of blackcurrant, and very warming