The ornate Baroque town of Karlovy Vary in Western Bohemia is famous for its spas, crystal ware and Becherovka, a herbal liqueur that was first concocted in 1807 by pharmacist Jan Becher using the pure water that made the town famous. Today Becherovka is still distilled to the same secret recipe – known only to two people at any one time – using a mixture of natural ingredients including sugar, cinnamon, herbs and spices. It is one of the Czech Republic’s favorite tipples and is also exported to more than 35 countries worldwide. The Jan Becher Museum opened in 2009 in the distillery’s original premises when production moved into larger premises. Guided tours take in the original subterranean cellars, where Becherovka was stored for two months in vast oak barrels, and showcase the history of the liqueur in a short movie before tracing each stage of its production. The museum is filled with portraits of six generations of the Becher family, two centuries’ worth of advertising posters and examples of the porcelain cups from which Becherovka was traditionally drunk.
After visiting the museum, Becherovka is available to sample straight or in a variety of cocktails in the tasting room, the Terrace Bar and the Esplanade; it can also be bought in personalized versions of its distinctively flat, green bottle to be taken home as a souvenir.
T.G. Masaryka 282/57, Karlovy Vary. Open daily 9am–5pm. Admission adults CZK 120; students CZK 60; under 18s CZK 30; family CZK 240. Karlovy Vary is west of Prague and best accessed by car in under two hours along the E48.