Polish Plum Nalewka Cordial Recipe

Polish plum liqueur in two cordial glasses

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 2,160 hrs
Total: 2,160 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1 gallon
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
364 Calories
0g Fat
27g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 364
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 12mg 59%
Calcium 10mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 197mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A Polish nalewka is an aged cordial. The most common types are made with fruit and either vodka or rectified spirits. This recipe for plum nalewka or śliwówka is traditionally made with Damson plums, a small oblong-oval-shaped plum. These types of plums are great to use in desserts, jams, and cordials as they're fairly tart in flavor and not usually eaten raw. If Damson plums aren't available in your area, you can certainly use Italian prune plums to make this plum vodka, but the flavor won't be authentic. 

A Nalewka, pronounced nah-LEF-kah, is typically served after a meal and is meant to be sipped, allowing the taste to be enjoyed as you would a fine wine. In Poland, they are also traditionally present at special occasions such as weddings or baptisms. Make sure to use a high-quality vodka when making this plum liqueur recipe for the best and most bona fide result.

Nalewki makes for excellent edible gifts, so plan accordingly when making them for Christmas. Start making this plum vodka three months ahead of the holiday season to ensure that it is ready. Next, get some pretty glass bottles to put the cordial in for giving as gifts, selecting the size of bottle you want to use. The giftee will most certainly enjoy sipping a glass of this aged cordial after their Christmas meal.

Whatever you do, don't throw away the fruit after putting the liquid into bottles. The fruit is wonderful made into a compote and then served over ice cream, pound cake, or even French toast. You can also put it on top of yogurt.


  • 3 quarts plums, such as Damson, slightly unripe, washed and pitted

  • 2 quarts vodka, good quality

  • 3 sticks cinnamon

  • 4 whole cloves

  • 1 cup sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Polish Plum Nalewka Recipe ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Place plums in a gallon jar. Pour half of the vodka into a large saucepan. Add cinnamon sticks and cloves. Let it warm over very low heat.

    Plums in a jar and Vodka, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Dissolve sugar in warm vodka.

    Vodka, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a saucepan on a burner, stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

    Vodka, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Pour vodka mixture over pitted plums in a gallon jar. Add remaining vodka. Screw cap on tightly and let sit for three months.

    Plums with vodka mixture in a jar

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. If prepared in summer, leave fruit in vodka mixture until just before Christmas Eve for full, fruity flavor. Strain and serve in cordial glasses.

    Polish Plum Nalewka in a glass and a bottle

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Don't throw away the fruit! Use a few pieces of the fruit in your Christmas compote, serve it over ice cream, yogurt, pound cake, or make an open-faced coffee cake using the dough from this Polish sweet roll recipe.

    Plums left over from the Polish Plum Nalewka in a bowl with yogurt

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

How to Store

This plum vodka will keep indefinitely and is best stored in a cool, dark place. The color will fade if this cordial is exposed to light, although the taste is not affected.