Drinking Pálinka: how to find the moonshine makers of Northern Romania


They call it Pálinka, horinca, or brandy.  I call it moonshine.  Whatever you call it, people are making it all over Maramureș.


Here’s how to find the hooch: first walk around until you smell wood smoke.  Follow the smell to a house with a smoking chimney.


Are there buckets of fermenting apples near the house’s front door?  That’s a good sign. Invite yourself inside.


Chances are there’s an even bigger bucket of fermenting apples inside.


Now, is there a lady turning a crank over a wood stove?  Success!  You found a distillery my friend.


Why not lend a hand and turn the crank yourself a while?


The brandy is distilled twice before bottling.


Officially, the brandy goes inside special glass bottles, like the one the host of our guest house gave us as a souvenir.


Those fancy bottles?  No one really uses them.  The authentic Pálinka container is an empty Coke bottle.  Here HOB is sampling an apple brandy flavored with dark berry juice.


And if a friendly neighbor invites you inside for drink?  Smile, lift your glass and say “noroc!


How we got to Maramureș: Florin from Casa Muntean picked us up from Sighisoara.

Where we slept: Casa Muntean.  Price: €18 for a double.  Recommended: highly.

Where we slept: Village Hotel.  Price: €30 for a double.  Recommended: highly.



  1. Won’t find this in Tripadvisor!

    My grandfather distilled his own…so did my father at one point…but grain, not fruit.

    When in France we were able to take our fermented plums for distilling – a portable machine which went its rounds of the area.

    Here it’s home distilled rum…guaro. Enough to knock your socks off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oy–it’s around 60% proof. Enough to knock my socks into the next century!


  2. This is fun I love it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks–it was fun. Fun and surprising!


  3. Reading this was funny and interesting at the same time! I love all the hidden gems you are sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you unosdiasen! I like your blog too. Now I want to go to Japan!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice! I think Pálinka is also a popular drink in Hungary. Once I had an hungarian roommate, and her father brought her a bottle of Palinka, home made. Indeed it was a coke bottle. We drank some and it was a funny feeling, the burning down the troath and the warmth inside the stomach! After our second glass, without asking she poured me a third one, but didn’t do so for herself. I asked why and the answer was: “I don’t like Pálinka very much, in Hungary only the men drink it”. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Long live the traditional Cole bottle of Palinka!!

      I hate to break it to you, but if your roommate poured you three Palinkas I’m fairly certain she was trying to kill you……

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, you think it right: palinka is the Hungarian name 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think this is the funniest blog about Romania. For how long are you going to stay?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I was able to give you a laugh ssambodhi. I am now back home in Chicago, USA. but I hope to return to Romania soon. I love the country so much!!!


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