Borsch, Vodka and Tears: Melbourne


Post by Ainslie Walker


I had an extraordinary unplanned evening on Chapel Street, Melbourne. My favorite kind of experience, where I get to learn something fascinating, enjoy a new experience and have all my senses dazzled. I was drawn in to a doorway marked by an intriguing logo painted on a shop window: “Borsch, Vodka and Tears” a few steps and I was suddenly out of the cold and in cozy Eastern Europe!

Borsch, Vodka and Tears: Melbourne


A romantic bohemian style bar and restaurant, inspired by the cellar bars of Krakow. It represents a bygone world, specialising in Polish vodka, absinthe, Eastern European beers and Polish meals. It is a perfect place for a date.

I arrived late and eyed off the wall of vodkas on display. The owners have spent years sourcing the most unusual, historic and rare bottles exclusively importing from Poland. My interest was spiked on realizing the bottles were hand made and painted in Poland too -gorgeously bespoke…very much the same way our favourite niche fragrances reside. One bottle even had a bubble inside with a rose inside! Even the historical stories of the brands reminded me of some of the older niche fragrances houses. I had found a magical sparkling vodka apothecary!

I decided on a vodka tasting session. I was asked about my favorite drinks, smells and flavours and I handed myself over for 3 of the barman’s recommendations -very much like perfume shopping. At this point he put down on the bar, three of the cutest tiny hand cut crystal shot glasses. I will admit I wanted to steal them – of course I didn’t though!!

He then filled them with different coloured liquids – vodka! They could have been made from anything! From potato or grain, tinctures or infusions of fruit, herbs or spices and aged in woods like oak. The idea he had was to test me, as by now he knew I had an interest in guessing notes.

Here are the highlights:


1. Piasecki Miodówka Leśna – Forest like and herbal, juniper and pine needle notes. A touch of something a little more resinous and balsamic, maybe honey. If it were perfume think Dior La Collection Couturier Parfumeur – Granville with its pine, citrus, pepper and herbal gorse notes rounded by sandalwoods and even some elements of Gucci by Gucci Sport – cypress, juniper and a touch of musky ambrette seed

2. Ja-GoPrzepalanka – All natural organic artisanal vodka featuring burnt sweet caramel notes, like the top of a crème brulee but with the alcohol strength being enough to really warm the throat. Smooth and deliciously addictive!

3. Miodula Prezydencka Lezakowana was the highlight for me I tasted smoked beeswax predominantly, along with the taste of wild honey, smoked pine needles and oak wood. Only 4000 bottles are made a year, all filled by hand, with 500 reserved as diplomatic gifts for Poland’s president. Bottles are all hand numbered with batch information also handwritten. The recipe is from 1772. I need a full bottle of this exclusive juice!!!!

Next visit I want to try Soplica Staropolska the menu says: Honey, Walnut, Clove With Jasmine And Lilac Notes. Aged In Oak Then Bottled In Hand Painted Decanters.
How does that not sound like a must try perfume to you? How do you like your vodka?

Ainslie Walker x

19 thoughts on “Borsch, Vodka and Tears: Melbourne

  1. Wow!, I’m amazed, (happily so), that it’s still there. My first year in Australia I lived just off Chapel, and my first New Years in this country I was walking passed Borsch Vodka & Tears just as it struck midnight.

    Jumped in and had me the tastiest vodka shot ever!


    • It’s a totally cool place, isn’t it? They say they were open 15 years ago and to me they are very much like the small bars that have popped up over the past 5 years or so. VERY before thier times and I am so happy they have survived. I can’t wait to go back there! 😀


  2. What a cool sounding place Ainslie. How do you always manage to end up in places only the coolest people ever visit? It’s like you have Super Cool-Dar.
    I wish I liked booze more as you seem to be becoming a complete booze hound.
    Portia x


    • Ha ha I WISH I had a SUPER COOL-DAR!! Ha ha! It is odd I am writing about booze so much…I am tending to wear my booziest fragrances too…perhaps it is winter? Perhaps because I never see you enough!! I may be turning into Leonard Cohen!!?? HELP!! ;D


  3. What a fun experience! I had a Polish flatmate once and he always had vodka in the freezer. I remember a bison one that had a sprig of grass in it. Tasted just like tonka bean. Cloying.


  4. This sounds so wonderful. Just the kind of place I’d love to find. Thanks for taking us along on your adventure.


  5. That sounds amazing. I’ve never been interested in vodka since it seemed that the whole emphasis has been on the vodka not having any flavor (or the sweet, fake flavors). However, in Seattle there are local distillers that have been making vodka with wonderful notes (citrus, pepper, vanilla etc.). Definitely an eye opener! The ones that you tried sound even more fantastic! Let us know what the one with lilac and jasmine tastes like! And, of course, borscht is always fantastic!


    • I know exactly what you mean, but I can tell you the flavours were as prominent as a niche perfume!! Rose, oak, cherry, citrus, vanilla, caramel etc etc etc I had no idea! You must try when you can. I have to say FAR more enjoyable than whisky tastings I have been on 🙂


  6. If they have that much flavor is it still really vodka? I always think of vodka as being neutral and able to be mixed with other things easily. I’d still like to try those but in my mind I don’t think I’d consider them vodka. It sounds like a really fun place to happen upon.


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