Review: Zwack Liqueur

Review: Zwack Liqueur


Zwack is wack! Sorry, had to do it. It won’t happen again.

Zwack is a Hungarian company that produces amaro-like digestif bitters, dark brown liqueurs flavored with dozens of herbs and aged in oak. For years, Zwack produced only a spirit called Unicum, which is said to be so insanely popular in Hungary that they often give you a shot free after dinner.

Zwack is now adding another spirit to its stable. Overseas it recently launched a spirit called Unicum Next, and another liqueur (different in recipe but similar in flavor) sold merely as Zwack is being added for the U.S. market. It looks like original Unicum will continue to be sold too, and if you don’t read the labels carefully — both feature a huge gold-on-red cross on a rounded bottle — you may end up with the wrong one. The difference? Unicum is extremely bitter, while Zwack is considerably sweeter, featuring a very strong cherry character.

As a fan of Fernet Branca, I’m already inclined to like the intensely flavored Zwack. While Unicum is great for sipping after a big meal — it’s quinine-like bitterness soothing the belly — Zwack is probably going to be a far bigger crowd pleaser. The sweetness is pronounced but not overpowering. Unlike some amaros, you can still drink it straight without wanting to gag from all the sugar.

Zwack is intended to be consumed chilled, and it’s a little better that way. (Unicum, on the other hand, is fine at room temperature.) Far more palatable than, say, Jagermeister, the frat crowd will appreciate it just the same: At 80 proof it still packs a massive punch. Drink with caution.

80 proof.

B+ / $23 / 

Zwack Liqueur




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Asher on April 13, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I found this article on Zwack interesting, so I though I’d give it a try. I agree with most of it, however, I didn’t taste any hint of cherry. The aftertaste is entirely cinnamon! Which is a welcome afterthought, when comparing to other liqueurs in the category. There is no need for a chaser, although I did try it straight out of the freezer (which I recommend). Overall, I give Zwack a thumbs up!

  2. Captain Shannon on April 13, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I personally think Zwack has great mixability… I believe this has to do with it’s smoothness. Have you tried it with you favorite mixer? Try it with Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale or any of your preferred variant! Prepared to be amazed!

  3. Captain Shannon on April 27, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Found a new mixer blend!!!

    Equal parts Zwack, Melon Liqueur, and Sprite. Pour over ice.


  4. liqueursnob on April 28, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I think Zwack is amazing. I have tried it a bunch of different ways since finding it in the Ann Arbor, E.Lansing, and Royal Oak area of Michigan. My personal favorite is served chilled straight. I have also had it mixed as a shot, I think it was called the Red-Headed Hungarian, very very very delicious (if you can not tell by my name I am a bit hard to please when it comes to finding a nice drink) and also did a Hungarian Car Bomb, similar to the traditional Irish Car Bomb; substitute the whiskey for Zwack. Delicious! I agree with Asher, I did not taste the cherry, I picked up hints of ginger, citrus and slight cinnamon.

  5. ChrissyC on May 4, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I love Zwack! I had been drinking Zwack Attacks as a bomb, but recently I starting mixing it with juices and sodas so I can drink it all night. So far my favorite is the Zwack-Off. Mix Zwack, Smirnoff Orange and an Energy drink. It’s delicious and fun to order.

  6. Katethegreat on May 18, 2009 at 8:31 am

    I saw a Zwack promotion happening in Denver at a popular bar and it was awesome. At first I was hesitant to try it because i don’t care for Jager but Zwack was GREAT! It definitely has a cinnamon taste to it. It is definitely something I will order in the future!

  7. JCotton on June 23, 2009 at 8:50 am

    I tried Zwack for the first time last year. There was a huge party here in Tallahassee, Fl. They had Rockband and I have to say I was jammin out. Previous to that party I had never heard of Zwack before. Since then , I have noticed it a lot around the local bars in town. I finally cracked around Christmas and bought my first bottle. The bottle is such an interesting piece of glass. It adds a unique appearance to the rest of my liqour cabinet. I have tried Zwack bomb style with red bull, straight up chilled, a replacement for Jager in my red headed sluts, and as a vodka replacement in my bloody marys. I guess thats what I love about zwack…you can really drink it in anything.

  8. ChrissyC on June 29, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I found great new way to drink Zwack! 1/2 Zwack and 1/2 Baileys. Shake it over ice and serve as a fablous martini. Yum!

  9. chuck smith on September 1, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Well !! Zwack uhhh LOL Went to a wedding and was intoduced to this product (as the label says drink with caution) lol the next day we had taken a bottle of zwack with us on the boat and had taken several shots in the grooms honor of course what followed that day was all my brothers fault till this day when asked if i was the guy on the red DONZI i tell them very quickly it was my brother bob !! great taste and fun appeal the smiths

  10. DigitalAaron on October 21, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Just discovered Zwack here in Texas. It is definitely a party favorite over other similar liqueurs. I like a strong drink and have tried them all…pushing myself into absinthe and beyond, and I’ve found Zwack is still the fan and crowd-favorite that doesn’t lose. I’ve “bombed” with other drinks before and never miss the mark with Zwack.

  11. Edoc on March 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I saw Zwack on the shelf of a nearby liquor store, and I almost picked it up (I try to pick up a bottle of something new whenever I go).

    However– and I know this may sound strange– the reviews on this page seem so over-the-top and effusive with praise that I held back. Either this is the greatest stuff out there, or there’s an elaborate astro-turfing effort going on here.

  12. Edoc on February 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I tried Zwack this weekend. Quite cinnamonny. I don’t really taste much of an amaro connection here. It tastes like a mix of Jagermeister and The Knot whiskey (pseudo-whiskey, that is). I think I’d be more satisfied Unicum, because I quite like real bitters like Fernet Branca, Campari, etc.

  13. Anon on August 6, 2015 at 10:33 am


    Im a friend of one of the daughters in the family of ZWACK and she brought us this to try. Its not good. Didnt like it one bit. The initial flavor is bitter and tastes overbearing and the after taste does not complement. I have yet to find any way to kill this horrid taste that is leaves behind. Its all subjective and my opinion is that its not good. Those who enjoy, power to you.

  14. Janelle on August 7, 2016 at 2:05 am

    Just tried.. OK so this stuff is potent! How anyone can say it tastes good is beyond me. Definitely has that awful taste of herbal tonic.. But given its 80% proof shot away. Effects are there but taste is excruciating!!

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