Summer is here, and that means you need to stay hydrated. And staying hydrated in Budapest means fröccs – as simple as that. Fröccs [roughly pronounced froch] is white or rose wine mixed with soda water. This drink is similar to what is called spritzer in other countries, but the important thing is not to call it spritzer in Hungary. And this little guide is meant to familiarise you with the process of drinking fröccs in Budapest.
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History of fröccs
Believe it or not, but fröccs did not exist always. There were before-fröccs times, very hot summer times in Hungary. Then in 1842 Hungarian inventor Anyos Jedlik decided that his invention of indistrial scale soda water production was missing something – and added wine to it.
And just to add a romantic note to all this business, it was Hungarian poet Mihály Vörösmarty, who gave fröccs its name and dedicated a part of his poem “The song from Fót” to the moving of soda bubbles in the wine glass (a very Hungarian poem indeed).
Upward rise within the cup,
Naught can stop it, as each globe
This was a perfect combination, but did not become that popular until later times, when roughly some 100 years later during the Socialist era the Hungarian wine became so bad that it needed to be diluted with something – and then fröccs became a mainstream drink.
Times changed, and now you can find amazing Hungarian wines, which in our household we often prefer to French or Italian. But fröccs stayed and became a signature drink of the Hungarian summer.
Which wines are good for Fröccs?
Fröccs is usually made with dry rose or dry white wine. It is possible to make it with the red wine too, but rather uncommon. Go on, try all three and chose your favourite? Who knows, maybe you will be the bohemian type, who will enjoy his/her vörös fröccs [red fröccs].
If you have read the previous paragraph, you already know that a good amount of cold soda water can make even bad wines taste decent. But if you want to enjoy a really nice fröccs, of course you should chose the wine, which you enjoy drinking undiluted.
Of course, in many pubs you just order fröccs with the housewine. The rule of thumb is to ask for the type of housewine the particular bar has, and if you know the vineyard (or have heard the name at least), then go for it. If no, ask for the wine card and chose your perefered type of wine for fröccs.
And if you know little about Hungarian wines, here are some tips to help you.
Rosé (or Roze in Hungarian):
Takler Ferenc Rosé Cuvée
Nagy és Nagy Balatoni Rosé
Font Gábor Kékfrankos Rosé
White (or Feher in Hungarian):
Ludányi József Mátrai Hófehér Cuvée
Levendula Pince Faramuci Olaszrizling
Frittmann János Olivér Cuvée
Types of fröccs
So, in order to make fröccs, you mix (good) wine with cold soda water. And the proportion in which you mix them does matter. There are tens of different types of fröccs with very creative names, ranging from poetic “Long step” to authoritative “Mayor” to sweet “Little Bear”, and if you want to deepen your fröccs education, you can spend your summer evenings comparing different ones.
But here are the main ones, which are most popular and will suit most of the tastes. Sportfröccs is my favourite on a hot evening in Budapest (a concept which does not exist in my northern home country, and which I find both facinating and disturbing), and kisfröccs is perfect when you would actually like to enjoy the taste of the wine, just make it tiny bit lighter.
You can memorise, copy or print out and take this infographic the nearest bar with you. But if you are less old school, and more of a modern technology type, there is actually a special fröccs app for you. Just download it to you phone and explore the world of summer drinks.
Best Fröccs Spots in Budapest
First of all, let’s get it over with. If you have already checked any pub recommendations, Szimpla Kert is probably on your list. It is a good place for sight-seeing and a beer, but might not be the best for the wine. So, here are a couple of alternatives.
Kőleves kert (Stone Soup Garden) is located right in the heart of the main party area of Budapest: Kazinczy street. Go here after you are done with your Szimpla Kert sightseeing.
Address: Kazinczy utca 37-39
Grund is named after a place in the famous Hungarian novel “The Paul Street Boys” – an empty lot, which the boys use as their playground. You can actually see a sculpture of those boys nearby at Prater utca.
Address: Nagy Templom utca 30
Jedermann, where you will find live music sometimes, and jazz-like atmosphere even without a concert.
Address: Raday u. 58
Feher Gyuru is located not far from Margit Bridge, it is a perfect place to sit down after your evening walk alongside the Danube on the Pest side.
Address: Balassi Bálint utca 27
Marxim is known more for beer and communism, slightly less for fröccs, but give it a try.
Addess: Kisrókus utca 23
Bambi Presszó maintains almost unchanging atmosphere since the 1960s, so it feels a bit like a time-machine travel. The wine is probably better than it was in the 60s though.
Address: Frankel Leó utca 2-4
Lánchíd Söröző: After admiring Chain Bridge, stop here to have a drink with the locals.
Address: Fo utca 4
Have you paid attention reading this article? You can check your newly-acquired fröccs knowledge by taking a fröccs quiz here.
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