Rakia or rakija ( _sq. raki, _ru. arichii _bs. rakija, _bg. ракия, rakia, _hr. rakija, _gr. ρακί, _hu. pálinka, _mk. ракија/rakija, _ro. rachiu (reg. "răchie"), _sr. ракија / rakija, _sk. pálenka, _sl. žganje, _tr. rakı) is similar to
brandy, made by distillationof fermented fruits, popular throughout the Balkans, Italy and France. Its alcohol content is normally 40%, but home-produced rakia can be stronger, typically 50 to 60%. "Prepečenica" is double-distilled rakia, with alcohol content sometimes exceeding 60%.
Rakia is considered to be the national drink among some of the South Slavic peoples. Common flavours are
slivovitz, produced from plums and grozdova, made from grapes. Fruits less commonly used are peaches, apricots, apples, pears, cherry, figs, and quinces. There is a mixed fruits rakia in Serbia, Bulgariaalso. In Istria, however, rakia is made exclusively from grapes, where the drink is also known locally as "trapa" or "grappa" (the latter name also being used in Italy). Plum and grape rakia are sometimes mixed with other ingredients, such as herbs, honey, sour cherries and walnuts, after distillation.
There are many kinds of rakia, depending on the fruit it is produced from:
* "Kom" or "džibra" is the fruity grape mash that remains after winemaking. It contains up to 5.5 litres of pure alcohol per 100 kg, and at least 40% dry matter.
** Not to be confused with
mead, which is made solely of honey.
Normally, rakia is colorless, unless herbs or other ingredients are added. Some types of rakia are kept in wooden barrels (
oakor mulberry) for extra aroma and a golden colour.
It is supposed to be drunk from special small glasses which hold from 0.3 to 0.5 dl.
A popular myth is that one can tell the strength of rakia by the size of the ring of bubbles ("venac") which forms when the bottle is well shaken. This is also mistakenly used as a measure of the quality of the liquor.
Bulgariaand Republic of Macedonia, rakia is generally served with shopska salad, milk salad, pickled vegetables ( turshiya) or other salads, which form the first course of the meal. Muskatova rakiya is made from Muscat grapes, while the preparation method of dzhibrova rakiya is the same as for Italian Grappa.
In Croatia, travarica (herbal rakia) is usually served at the beginning of the meal, together with dried figs. The Croatian Adriatic coast is known for a great variety of herbal grappas, some typical for only one island or group of islands. The island Hvar is famous for grappa with the addition of myrrh (mrtina — bitter and dark brown). Southern islands, such as Korčula, and the city of Dubrovnik are famous for grappa with anise (aniseta), and in central Dalmatia the most popular rakia is grappa with nuts (orahovica). It's usually homemade, and served with dry cookies or dried figs. In the summer, it's very typical to see huge glass jars of grappa with nuts steeping in the liquid on every balcony, because the process requires the exposure of orahovica to the sun. In the northern Adriatic — mainly Istria — rakia is typically made of
honey(medica) or mistletoe(biska). Biska, which is yellow-brown and sweet, is a typical liquor of Istria.
Another popular way of serving is "cooked" ("kuvana" or "greyana") rakia (also called "
Šumadijatea" in Serbia), which is heated and sweetened with honey or sugar, with added spices. Heated in large kettles, it is often offered to visitors to various open-air festivities, especially in winter. It is similar to mulled wine, as weaker brands of rakia are used (or stronger ones diluted with water).
wineis the essential part of the Eucharistrite in the Eastern Orthodoxand Roman Catholicchurches in the region, rakia has found uses in certain religious and related rituals across the Balkans.
At the end of the Orthodox Christian
burialservice, at the exit from the cemetery, visitors are offered a piece of soda bread("pogača") and a glass of rakia. When drinking "for the soul" of the deceased, one spills some rakia on the ground, saying (in Romanian, "Dumnezeu să-i primească" (May God receive this for her/him), before drinking the rest.
weddingceremonies, the groom's father goes around all tables and offers a glass of rakia to all guests, sharing a toast for the happiness of the newlyweds. In general, in the Balkans, rakia is offered to guests in one's home as a welcoming gesture.
Drinks similar to rakia
* Rakı, an
anise-flavored liquorin Turkey
Tsikoudiaa similar drink in Greece, especially Crete
Tsipouro, an alcoholic beverage of Greece
Ţuică, a similar drink in Romania.
Palinka, a similar drink made in Hungaryand Romania.
Mead, an alcoholic drink made directly from honey
Grappa, an alcoholic drink similar to komovica
Pisco, South-American drink similar to vinovica.
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