There’s nothing quite like the experience of sipping a traditional drink in a foreign country and feeling the culture come alive. It’s an unforgettable experience that allows you to truly connect with a place and people.
Biska is a traditional Istrian drink made with mistletoe, brandy and honey. It is one of the most popular brandies in Istria. A particularly famous place for the preparation of bisque is Hum in Istria, whose residents prepare it from local komovica and mix it with mistletoe and three other types of grass.
What does Biska taste like? First, strong but later sweet and slightly sour.
It is distilled from fruit brandy or grappa and infused with mistletoe and herbs. The mistletoe is hand-picked from apple trees, soaked in the distilled brandy and then distilled once more for purity. It usually has a beautiful and refined caramel or green shade, the smell is nice, pleasant and pronounced.
It has a distinct herbaceous flavour that is often described as warming and comforting. As one poet puts it, “the medicine whose drops warm our hearts.”
The original recipe comes from the Celts who lived on the Istrian peninsula and is about two thousand years old. Biska is the local name for mistletoe (Viscum album), whose healing force was already known in ancient times. The mischievous say it also loosens the tongue. In old records, it is written that the leaves from which Biska is prepared are used as a medicine against epilepsy, but also for other things – it regulates blood pressure, hormonal disorders and some heart problems.
It is traditionally served as an aperitif or digestif and it should be served chilled and neat, no ice. It goes well alone or paired with aged cheeses and red meat. At room temperature, it ideally pairs with premium cigars.
Photo source: www.eistra.info, www.wein-aus-kroatien.at