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Becherovka is an alcoholic liquid made in the Czech Republic. It is flavored with a number of herbs and spices including cinnamon and anise seed. This drink has been commercially produced since 1807. The alcohol content is 35% which means that the drink has a proof of 70.
The exact mixture of herbs used in becherovka is top secret and is closely guarded by the manufacturer. In fact, there are only two people in the world who know the exact mixture of over 30 herbs that are used to make becherovka. These two people are responsible for entering a secured room where the mixture is created. This mixture is made on a weekly basis so that the facility can continue to manufacture the drink.
Very little is known about the herbs that are used to make becherovka, but it is believed that some of them are imported to the Czech Republic from other countries. Other herbs are grown locally. The secrecy surrounding the recipe for this drink is much like the secrecy surrounding the recipes for some top American soft drinks such as Pepsi® and Coca-Cola®.
A competing product was sold from 1998 to 2003. There was a court battle over the right of this second company to produce the drink and, in the end, the original manufacturer won the case. The case was closed in 2007 and Zdeněk Hoffmann, the owner of the second company, was sentenced.
Becherovka is usually consumed cold and is sometimes mixed with other liquids, most commonly tonic water. It is sometimes used for medicinal purposes. Some argue that it is effective at easing pain or relieving nausea.
There is no firm science behind the medicinal properties of becherovka. Despite this fact, it has been used as a home remedy in central European and eastern European countries for many generations. In addition to the Czech Republic, becherovka is most commonly found in Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, and in some parts of Germany. As with most home remedies, the belief in and use of becherovka continues despite increased access to modern medicine and medications. Even without firm knowledge of what the drink is made of, many people in eastern and central Europe swear by the drink and always keep a bottle of it in the house.