Budapest is the great capital city of Hungary and is a huge tourist attraction in Central-Eastern Europe that is visited by millions of tourists each year. The enticing streets of Budapest have so much to offer and are culturally and historically enriched. The city of Budapest has a deeply rooted culture and its traditional wines and beverages are widely famous around the world.
Unicum is one of the local drinks of Budapest and is a fixture on the bar shelves of the city. Unicum is best enjoyed while in the company of friends and family as it has great importance in the Hungarians’ place especially on the grand food-fueled social gatherings of the locals. The wide-spread fame of this drink is what makes it also very popular amongst the tourist of Budapest as well. Its distinctive bottle shows off the branded gold cross that pops against a red background, this is the first hint that its roots are medicinal.
The history of Unicum can be dated back to the year 1790 when Habsburg ruler Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor was suffering from indigestion and Dr. Zwack who was a royal physician to the Imperial Court, prepared a herbal remedy for him to ingest. As a result, the unique elixir spread in popularity later on and the famous Unicum Company that is named “Zwack” was founded in the year 1840 by József Zwack who was an entrepreneurial descendant of the doctor. Later on by 1895, Zwack was producing more than 200 liqueurs and spirits and was proudly exporting them from a distillery that is still in use till the present times. Various generations of the Zwack family have always presided over the business and two of the most prominent members are the brothers Béla and János who were at the helm during the most troubling years of the Company. The Great Depression and prohibition in the United States led to a decrease in demand for Zwack products. During World War II, the factory was destroyed and then shortly afterward communism forced the company to nationalize. However, the Zwacks were able to come up with a plan to save the company and later on after Communism fell in the year 1989, the Zwacks eventually bought their company back and the true, heady Unicum recipe was embraced once again. János’s son, Péter had revived the name both domestically and abroad.
Today the liqueur is produced by Zwack with a secret formula of more than forty herbs. The drink is aged in oak casks. Unicum is considered to be one of the national drinks of Hungary because of its rich history and deep roots with the history of the country itself. The production facility also offers interesting tours which include a tasting session of the two different varieties that are namely Unicum and Unicum Plum. The original Unicum is no longer distributed in the US as it has been replaced by Unicum Next which is basically a sweeter and thinner-bodied drink with a more prominent citrus flavor to it and has been re-branded as “Zwack”.
So next time you are in town be sure to taste some original Hungarian Unicum!