Month: May 2019

The secret drink recipe used to cure royals
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The secret drink recipe used to cure royals

(CNN) — Whether you find yourself in a no-frills kocsma filled with beer-swilling old timers, an elegant cocktail lair or one of Budapest's quirky ruin pubs jammed with tourists, the Hungarian capital's drinking scene has one constant.

Countless times throughout the night, the bartender will reach for the same distinctive, round-bellied bottle.

The inky, amber-tinted liquid inside is called Unicum, and with roots that delve back to the late 18th century, it's one of the most revered national drinks in Hungary.

Like that other boozy Hungarian favorite, the fruit brandy pálinka, Unicum is largely savored as an aperitif or a digestif in shot form.

Produced by Budapest based beverage company Zwack, it's a herbal liqueur comprising a secret blend of more than 40 herbs and spices aged in oak.

Less aggressive than Fernet yet beefier than Jägermeister, thick, bitter Unicum, laced with subtle piney eucalyptus notes, is indeed bracing, a taste that grows delightfully more palatable with each sip according to Unicum brand ambassador Csaba Gulyás.

"It's a bittersweet potion, which isn't easy to enjoy the first time, but then you cross that barrier and it becomes your favorite," says Gulyás.

Royal origins

Unicum was originally created to cure Habsburg ruler Joseph II of a bout of indigestion.

Courtesy of Zwack Unicum

The story behind how Unicum came to be is equal parts fabled and turbulent.

Its distinctive bottle flaunts a gold cross that pops against a red background — the first hint that its roots are medicinal.

It all began in 1790, when Habsburg ruler Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, had a bout of indigestion, and Dr. Zwack, royal physician to the Imperial Court, whipped up a herbal remedy for him.

Upon drinking it, Joseph II purportedly exclaimed, "Dr. Zwack, das ist ein Unikum!"

The "unique" elixir subsequently spread in popularity, and the Zwack company was founded in 1840 by József Zwack, an entrepreneurial descendant of the visionary doctor.

By 1895, Zwack was producing over 200 liqueurs and spirits, exporting them from a distillery that's still in use today.

Different generations of the Zwack family have always presided over the business and two of its most prominent characters are brothers Béla and János, who were at the helm during Zwack's most troubling years.

The 1930s ushered in an era of turmoil, what with the Great Depression and prohibition in the United States, leading to a decrease in demand for Zwack products.

During World War II the factory was destroyed and shortly after, communism forced the company to nationalize. However, the Zwacks hatched a plan, creating a fake recipe for the communists to use.

János found safety in the United States, while Béla stayed put at the distillery until the mid-1950s, when he decamped to Italy and started tinkering with the original Unicum again.

After Communism fell in 1989, the Zwacks bought their company back and the true, heady Unicum recipe was embraced, János's son Péter reviving the name both domestically and abroad.

"Everybody has a personal story with Unicum. It has spiritual content and it's timeless, surviving our history," explains Gulyas.

"I think I would love Unicum even if I didn't know anything of its heritage, but once you get the whole picture, wow," says Dez O'Connell, a bar consultant who oversees all the beverage programs for Budapest's BrodyLand portfolio, including the events hub Brody Studios.

"Unicum is the story of Hungary politically and socially since the Hapsburg Empire to the present day. That of course gives it a special place in most Hungarian hearts and stomachs."

A symbol of unity

The liqueur is now one of Hungary's most revered national drinks.

Courtesy of Zwack Unicum

A fixture on Budapest bar shelves, Unicum is best enjoyed while in the company of friends and family, attesting to the importance Hungarians place on convivial, food-fueled social gatherings.

Ferenc Varsányi, partner at the cozy barber shop turned cocktail den Hotsy Totsy, adds that "it brings families together. Hungarians don't drink Unicum just on special occasions. It's a symbol of unity."

It's most likely to consumed as a room temperature shot, but Varsányi prefers drinking it from a tasting glass, &quRead More – Source

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Pope issues new rules on reporting sexual abuse
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Pope issues new rules on reporting sexual abuse

The new rules require all Catholic dioceses around the world to have a "public and accessible" system in place for reporting abuse by June 1, 2020.The new norms cover internal Catholic Church procedure, not the issue of reporting abuse or cover-up to civil authorities, and represent a top-down imposition which must be followed by all dioceses.Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Vatican's top investigator of sex abuse, told CNN that the new rules add a layer of accountability for church leaders."First of all that leadership is not above the law," Scicluna said, "and second that leadership needs to know, all of us in leadership we need to know, that if the people love the Church they're going to denounce us when we do something wrong."Most dioceses in the US and Europe already have these systems, and the new norms will likely be more important in countries where there are not already well-established guidelines for reporting and handling sexual abuse.Under the new rules, investigations into credible reports of sexual abuse must be completed within 90 days, and a no-retaliation clause protects the person reporting abuse from tit-for-tat claims or obligations for them to keep quiet.Top Vatican official Cardinal Marc Ouellet told the Vatican's in-house newspaper the mandatory reporting requirement was the most important element in the new rules.Ouellet told Osservatore Romano that it's significant that "besides the abuses on the minors and on the vulnerable adults that the harassment or violence of abuse of power also be reported."For decades the Catholic Church has been plagued by a series of sex abuse scandals in different countries around the world.The new norms follow a global meeting on sex abuse at the Vatican in February and represent Pope Francis' pledge to offer "concrete measures" to combat sexual abuse.There has not previously been a uniform, universal system in the Catholic Church for reporting and investigating allegations of abuse.The new rules were set out in an Apostolic letter, called a "Motu Proprio," issued personally by Pope Francis, which calls for a three-year trial period for the initiative.Although the norms represent an important clarification of procedures to be followed, they do not deal with the question of what happens to a priest or bishop who breaks these rules.To date, no church official has been publicly sanctioned for cover-up, and a lack of accountability is something that survivors have been concerned about for years. After Bishop Robert Finn, the formerly the head of a Kansas City diocese, was convicted of failing to report child abuse in 2012, advocates for abuse survivorsRead More – Source

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