Tag Archives: croatia

Better Days Of Badel Disillery

Truth be told, Badel 1862 had its better days. Recently, Croatian newspapers were flooded by articles about who will buy and eventually maybe save this struggling company. The fingers are pointed at bad management as the reason for its pitiful state. But there are glimmers of hope on the horizon. In the May Badel’s wine Korlat Merlot 2011 won Grand Gold Medal from the judges of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles among other prizes.


Production line of very popular bitter Badel Pelinkovac

Despite recent turmoil, the quality of its products is not reduced and Badel still remains a name of premium alcoholic (and in the later years non-alcoholic) beverages.


The first beverages produced in Badel- Pokorny Bitters

After World War II, Badel was created as a united company but its history starts in 1862 when an enthusiast Franjo Pokorny started making strong liquor. He produced them on his own, packed them and distributed them to shops. His products became so well known, that he distributed it to the Royal Court of Napoleon III.

The second important name in the creation of today’s company was Mijo Arko. He was first Croatian expert in wine storing and in 1867 he opened the store of wine and brandy. His son, Vladimir, was the one history remembers. He started industrial manufacture of liqueurs and brandy building an impressive complex in the center of Zagreb which is protected as valuable cultural building since it was envisioned by great architect Ignjat Fischer.

The third big part of Badel’s history is Patria factory, founded in 1886. Although not many people know of it, its product
outlived its creator and became a part of the cultural experience of Croatia.




“The Little One While Standing”, without sitting on the chair, bottom up- most popular beverage of exYugoslavia- Badel Prima Brandy

Badel’s Prima Brandy No1 is not in fact a brandy. So few years ago Badel had to choose between changing the recipe or the name. They chose the latter so name lost ‘y’ and liquor became Prima Brand No1. But in mind of people it’s still just Brandy.

At first, it was called Brandy Medicinal and it was respected among people in Zagreb where it was produced. So respected, in fact, that you could buy it only in the best and most exclusive pharmacies.

In former Yugoslavia, Badel’s Brandy was a popular drink among working class. In bars close to factories, you could hear the same order yelled by workers: “Mali s nogu” to the waiter at the bar.. The literal translation would be somewhere along the lines of the “the little one while standing” which sounds strange but there is an explanation. It was served in shot glasses and the workers used to just come in to the bar and drink it while standing before going to work. There was no ritual surrounding the way you drink it, it was just a quick refreshment to help you survive a day.  At one point, it became so popular that the government prohibited alcohol in the mornings. It didn’t affect the sales of Brandy. Shot glass just retired and Brandy was poured in the coffee cups.

Brandy and Rakija – anything in common?

Ever heard of rakija or rakia? Or arak? Or grappa? Or mastika? Or slivovitz? Or brandy?


Some say rakia is derived from Arabic araq or arak, meaning wine. It was used in the Middle East for all sorts of spirits destilled from grapes and wine. Turkish conquering of the Balkans brought new meanings: all spirits with high percentage of alcohol were named rakia. Or rakija in Slavic version.

Since Balkan peninsula is rich in aromatic fruit, probably most aromatic in the whole world, rakia became a common name for spirit distilled from fruit. So, grappa is a kind of brandy distilled from grape, mostly appreciated in Croatia – Dalmatia and Italy. Slivovitz or slivovice or slivovica or sljivovica is brandy distilled from plum (common Slavonic name, sljiva = plum)  and it is appreciated and praised mostly in Slavic countries.

Why do we call it brandy in English version nowadays? They have very few similarities. If it is a bit sweet and yellow, it can be very similar to brandy. Tawny yellow color is granted to fruit brandy by its oak barrel: if the brandy is aged in a barrel for at least couple of months, it becomes smooth and harmonized.

The kind of a brandy on the picture was aged in barrique barrels and is probably most similar to  brandy in its common meaning.