Utopenci-“Drowned Men” a Czech pub classic

utopenci czech pickled hotdogs

Today we have a classic from Czech pubs. Utopenci is a jar of pickled hot dogs, onions and spices. It is a necessary addition to all czech pubs, usually to be found near the tap.

The name Utopenci has deep roots in the Czech soul and humor. Utopenci were invented 100 years ago by Mr.  Šamánek who owned a mill and a pub in Beroun. The pickled hot-dogs were very popular and his pub was famous throughout the country. As life has its irony, he drowned on day while fixing his mill’s wheel. Czechs love black humor and they named this classic Utopenci – Drowned men.

czech hotdogs onions and garlic ready to get pickled

I decided to post this video, because it reflects the era of socialist pub culture, which spans the late 50’s until mid 90’s of the past century. This is the period when the pub was the gathering place of ordinary Czech men, and a very important institution where the men had to fight for social positions and made their most important life decisions. At 3:30 pm the men came home after a hard day’s work, and after a well-deserved lunch they would set off to the pub. They had to rush, because the pubs were open only until 9  pm. As soon as the last round was called (usually known by the fact that the smoke in the air could be cut by a dull knife)  they had a hard “orientational” walk home where they would be shouted at and beaten by pasta-roller wielding Czech women – the wives.  This song reflects the hardship of the Czech men. In this video you could see the hard fight for social acceptance, and of course the original beer tap which was in use in all pubs in Czechoslovakia for almost 50 years. As a sign of the sour future to come, the main character helps himself to utopenci. During this presentation you will be able to see how the air thickens as a sign that time is running out and slowly they have to start the journey home.

Utopenci – Drowned Men

There are plenty of variations for utopenci. Originally, utopenci were not spciy so you can leave out the chili. The very basic recipe is the first 10 ingredients. After that you can use your imigination – some people add mustard or mustard seeds, horse radish, pickled cucumbers, Worcester sauce, olives etc. I have added tomatoes because Katy likes pickled tomatoes so why not?


  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups 8% white vinegar
  • 10 whole pepper corns
  • 4pc allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pounds of thick hot-dogs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 4-5 big onions
  • 2 chilies
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups of sauerkraut


  • Mix the water, vinegar, salt, sugar and the spices and bring them to boil. Boil them for 2 minutes and then let the liquid cool.
  • Peel the hot-dogs, chop the onions into circles. Peel the tomatoes. The trick with tomatoes is to put them into boiling water for 20 sec. After that it is very easy to pop them out of their skin.
  • Prepare a 4.2 pint (2liter) jar. Start to layer onions, garlic, hot-dogs, sauerkraut, chilies. You can do few layers. On the top I have put the tomatoes.
  • Once the vinegary liquid is lukewarm, pour it into the jar. Shake the jar in order to get rid of bubbles. Do not leave out the spices and put them into the jar. Seal the jar and put it into a cool place or fridge for 2 weeks. If you are going crazy you can eat them in one week, but two weeks is the etiquette. In the fridge they will take longer to mature.
  • Serve with rustic bread and plenty of pilsner. Do not forget to invite me over.


5 Responses

  1. Wow. Is that band like a Czech version of the Pogues?!
    My Dad would love the Utopenci – he loves pickled anything, and would often eat pickled kielbasa at the local Polish Hall.

  2. The band is “Tri Sestry” and they used to be a punk-rock pub band but they went political and they do not represent my views. I chose this video because I have remembered that they featured Utopenci. I did not know that Pols have pickled kielbasa. I have to research it. Thanx for the tip 🙂

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