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.