In Slovakia you may find the coldest place in the Central Europe. It is in a small village called Oravská Lesná close to the borders with Poland. There you may „enjoy“ – 33,5 oC in winter and see how children are toboganing right off the roof of the local houses. You can imagine that people here are drinking spirits that will set your stomach on fire in a minute.

Motýľ na snehu
Motýľ na snehu

The most popular (and even healthy) is „borovička s horcom“. It is white spirit from juniper shrub, the same source that gin is made from, but „borovička“ has another recipe. The experts say that drinking it makes you feel like you are gliding through the woods or perhaps the woods are gliding through you. To make this hot stuff healthy, the “horec”, a root from medical plant called Gentian, is added which makes the drink bitter. It´s apparently good for the stomach if you are not drinking too much of this medicine.

I, with family roots right in this coldest place, have may own experience by taking too much of this medicine. I was with a group of friends and „borovička s horcom“ made us so energetic that we decided on an impromptu ski jumping competition. In Orava it is not difficult to find where to jump, you just have to determine how much you want to risk! And I ready to break any limits. My jump must be the longest. So I went down the improvised snow-bridge at full speed and (buoyed up by “borovička”) used my full power to jump. I was flying! Still in the air I was well aware that I am a winner. Only landing was a bit confusing. Why did I land in my socks? The explanation soon became clear. I had jumped so energetically that I had jumped out of my ski shoes and skis, which reminded pathetically on the edge of snow-bridge.

My advice, therefore, on our local spirits is following. As with everything great in this world, respect the limits. Surpass them at your peril.


And for those who enjoy taste more than grades we have in Orava also unique liqueur that you cannot find in any other place in the world. It is “čučoriedkovica“ made from blueberries with an extraordinary color, content and taste. It´s great drink for ladies, who came in droves to watch an European Championship in Dog Sledding in village Zuberec every year this month.


„Čučoriedkovica“ (called „Hafirovica“ by locals) will wait you in hotel Primula that is not far from skiing resort Spálená. However, not far from there you may enjoy something more. In tourist resort Oravice is ready for you not only steep skiing highway but also thermal spa are well to be used at the end of this skiing routes. So the best mix for this month is one „borovička“ for a man, one „čučoriedkovica“ for the lady and some skiing exercise that ends in plunging into hot mineral waters. This way you warm yourself from both sides (outside and inside) even in coldest winters.

Gustáv Murín

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