At the beginning of the 1840s, András Fáy’s press house on Fót’s Öreghegy was popular with the reform era intelligentsia; this building with wonderful views over Pest was also frequented by the likes of Lajos Kossuth, Ferenc Deák, Pál Szemere, József Bajza, Gergely Czuczor and Mihály Vörösmarty.

Fröccs party

The legend of its birth

On 5 October 1842, András Fay invited Vörösmarty and some friends to his cellar for the harvest. Ányos Jedlik, not only a great scholar of electricity, but also the Hungarian inventor of soda water for large-scale industrial application, was among these friends. In order to pleasantly dilute the strength of wine, it was not only necessary to invent a way to produce soda water, but of course a bottle to squirt it out from too (the Englishman Joseph Priestley was the first to artificially mix carbon dioxide with water in 1767). Jedlik took the world’s first soda siphon along with him and, to the host and guests’ amazement, made the first ever ‘fröccs’, to which he gave the Germanic name ‘spritzer’, here on the Fáy estate. However, Vörösmarty didn’t like this word and so came up with the name ‘fröccs’. The poet later mentioned this wine diluted with soda water in his poem entitled ‘The song from Fót’.

Soda syphon

Mihály Vörösmarty: The song from Fót*
(excerption, 5 October 1842)

Upward rise within the cup,
    Pearly beads,
Naught can stop it, as each globe
    Upward speeds;
Skyward let all things ascend
    Pure and white.
Leaving on the earth beneath
    Dross and blight.

Strength and force our body gains
    When we dine,
But the soul gains nourishment
    From the wine.
Wine and spirit still were friends
    Good and true.
What fish e’er in water spawned
    Famous grew?

*Fót, a village near Budapest, the poet’s country place.

There are no longer any vines on Öreghegy, but András Fáy’s press house is still standing and open to visitors: it has housed a restaurant since the 1970s and the Vörösmarty cottage next to it preserves the memory of grape harvests from that time.

Ready to Fröccs

Fröccs, a.k.a the Spritzer, is actually one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in Hungary. As mentioned earlier, it is wine (mostly white or rosé) mixed with soda water. And most importantly, not with sparkling water as is often the case nowadays, but with good old fashioned carbonated soda water!

Fröccs has been a Hungaricum since 2013. Its essence is not so much the quality of the wine (of course, bad wine will only make bad fröccs) or the carbon dioxide content of the soda water, but much rather the ratio of soda water to wine, which is wonderfully expressed in the names of the various fröccs, which are in themselves a good demonstration of Hungarian self-irony.

Fröccs name

Wine (dl)

soda water (dl)

Kisfröccs, fütty, rövidlépés (Small spritzer, Whistle or Short step)

1 1

Hosszúlépés (Long step)

1 2

Mókusugrás (Squirrel jump)

1 3

Sportfröccs, lakó (Sport spritzer or Tenant)

1 4

Sóherfröccs, távolugrás (Cheapskate or Long jump)

1 9

Nagyfröccs (Large spritzer)

2 1

Viceházmester (Vice-concierge)

2 3

Bakteranyós (Mother-in-law of the railway trackman)

2.5 2.5

Mókus bukfenc (Squirrel sommersault)

3 1

Házmester (Concierge)

3 2

Háziúr (Landlord)

4 1

Alpolgármester (Deputy mayor)

4 6

Spriccer (Sprinkler)

5 1

Maflás, mafla (Clinker, Blockhead)

5 5

Puskás-fröccs (Puskás spritzer*)

6 3

Polgármester (Mayor)

6 4

Avasi fröccs (Avas spritzer)

7 3

Krúdy-fröccs (Krudy spritzer)

9 1

Csatos (Bailer)

10 5

Lámpás (Illuminator or Lamplighter)

15 5

Kőművesfröccs (Mason’s spritzer)

25 5

* Match of the Century (1953 England v Hungary football match), which the Mighty Magyars won 6–3

The fröccs names are used by other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink mixes too and even for certain drinks meant to be consumed one after the other, that is not in the glass, but designed to be mixed in the mouth or even the stomach. In German-speaking countries, it is known as Gemischt, Weinschorle or Sauergespritzter.

Many thanks for the photos: Drop The Cheese, Rita Takaró