Nastoyka is better than vodka

3:37 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory /

“Of course, you know that ashberry tincture is a favorite drink of the Russians. Remember, that it owes its success to the peculiar taste, calming effect on the stomach, increasing digestion. Don’t forget to drink a glass of nastoyka at breakfast, lunch and supper. You’ll get both pleasure and good” said Russian manifacturers at the beginning of the 20th century, advertising nastoyka.

Nastoyka (tincture) is a Russian national drink as well as vodka and it has a long history. There are so many sorts of nastoyka in Russia, that you can hardly find one tenth of it in other countries of the world. With the help of nastoyka Russia compensated the lack of wine.
First alcohol tincture were used in medicine. Alcohol helped to keep useful natural substances in fruit and berries. Much later the tincture gained popularity as alcoholic drinks.
First tinctures had been produced before distillation was invented. People infused the herbs with the help of alcoholic liquids, got through brewing. Beginning from the pre-Petrine epoch there was a great variety of nastoyka in every house of the boyar, and later of the nobleman: anisic, birch, wormwood, mint, cardamom, cranberry, tormentil, pepper, lemon and other tinctures. Then the tinctures were used by monacs and alchemists as medicine. And only in the 17th century tinctures and liquers became popular and were no longer used in treatment.

The plenty of sorts and flavors is concerned with the great variety of feed stock. To tell the truth, a Russian nastoyka has a flavor of gardens, fields and forests of this great country.

There is a list of some components to use in nastoyka production:
Spices – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom;
Herbs – St. Jon’s wort, sweet-grass, origanum, camomile, wormwood, sweet clover, milfoil, thyme, mint, acacia, white bird cherry, fennel, coriander, lime, gingseng, aralia, hips, juniper and others.


Nowadays all the tinctures manufactured in Russia can be divided into three groups:

  • Bitter ones – containing 25-60% alcohol
  • Half-sweet – containing 25-40% alcohol
  • Sweet – containing 16-25% alcohol. By taste it is close to liquer.

There are also “simple” and “complex” tinctures. A simple nastoyka is made of one sort of aroma herbs and a comlex one is a mix of aromatic substances.

Production of nastoyka

Nastoyka is made through blending alcohol, juices and syrup with herbs.The most wide-spreaded way to make a nastoyka at home is alcoholic infusion. Berries correct the flavor of vodka, create a special aroma and give piquancy to the drink. Nowadays distillery plants regulate all the technological process in producing tinctures. Raw materials are certified. The composition of alcoholic tinctures is under control. But to produce nastoyka at home is much easier, because the method of cold infusion is used. You need to put fresh or dried plants into a bottle, pour alcohol into it and keep it some time until active substances are dissolved in alcohol. After infusion the mix must be filtered and shaked up. The infusion time depends on the raw, temperature conditions, but usually it lasts about 3-5 weeks. There are two main methods of producing a nastoyka. The first one is a maceration of fruit, berries or plants in pure alcohol or brandy. This process lasts up to several months. Then you must filter the mix and add distilled water, honey, sugar and something else and repeat the whole process again.
The second method is the following: fruit, berries, plants are infused in alcohol (up to some weeks), after that the mix is distilled for one time.

How to drink nastoyka

Nastoyka can be used just as it is, can be mixed up with water or ice, or used as a cocktail component. Nastoyka shouldn’t be kept in cold place, because it can grow turbid. Any nastoyka can be used as an aperitif.
Sweet tinctures can be served for dessert. Sometimes strong bitter nastoyka is used instead of vodka and served for spicy snacks, meat and fish dishes.
Nutritionists say that nastoyka is very good for health. It is used to treat ischemia, leukemia, vascular diseases.

Some recipes

Lemon nastoyka
1 bottle of vodka
2 lemons

It’s a traditional lemon nastoyka. Wash the lemons and dry them. Use only yellow peel because white pulp adds bitter taste. Keep it for several days in a warm place, then filter.

Moscow nastoyka
0.5 l. vodka
20 gr. sage seeds
20 gr. peppermint seeds
20 gr. tormentil seeds
20 gr. ginger seeds

Put the seeds into the vodka, keep it for a month, then filter and pour into the clean bottles.

Nastoyka “Erofeich”
The fragrant flowers and herbs: origanum, St. John’s wort, lovage, sage, wormwood, balm, milfoil, thyme, wild strawberries, apple-tree and pear-tree leaves, hawthorn blossom – 2 gr. each.
Cardamom and anise – 0.5 gr. each
1 l. of good vodka

Mix all the ingredients up, keep it for 2-3 months, filter and pour into the bottles of dark glass. Cork it up. The nastoyka brings vitality and relieve a stress.