"These are friends and family. Croatia. Confirm your subscription and wait for my second email where you'll find a link to download your FREE guide. Some people add coffee beans to orahovac, but we prefer it without. I am happy you enjoyed this rakija guide . Then, the fire beneath is lit. “Every other rakija has to be distilled twice, except šljiva”, Ica says. "All of the non-flavored rakijas are equal to me! Did you know that rakija cools and wine warms the body? Živeli! So, participating is completely voluntary. Again, which rakija is best is really up to taste and it varies from person to person. Sign up for my exclusive updates and get Croatia savvy. I think rakija can be bought all over the world in specialized shops. A better question would be which country makes the best Rakia overall? After all has been eaten at the Đurčević family berba; only a few slices of makovnjača remain on the table. Rakija is by far the most popular alcoholic drink in the country of Croatia. Whether you're making rakija from a fruit grove or a vineyard, you'll have to participate in the springtime process of pruning – or rezidba in Croatian. "My personal favorite is vilijamovka… šljiva… loza… and all fruit rakijas", announces Ica, to everyone's laughter. "Komovica, however, is lower quality rakija than lozovača", Ica's son Đuka notes. In fact, any fruit containing the sugar needed to create alcohol can be used. We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads. Though you can certainly get mass-produced bottles of rakija from a supermarket or a liquor store throughout the Balkans, the majority of rakija is made at home and locals will assure you that the homemade stuff is the right one to drink. Ica explains, "Once the fermentation process is over, the krovina will be black in color. Then you’d maybe want to opt for a slower drinking, accompanied by a glass of water. It's a chance to see people you haven't seen in a while. It gets its true flavor, aroma, strength, and richness after the first distillation. Rakija (or rakia) is considered to be the national drink of the Balkan nations. A commonly added herb is sage, thought to heal respiratory ailments and contain antibacterial properties. ), Richmond Park Walks: A Perfect London Day Hike. Lika is also proud of drenovača or rakija od drijenka (cornelian cherry brandy). If you're looking to lowers your stress levels, throw in a few sprigs of thyme, too. For more information, see our privacy policy. Each day is spent distilling over the course of multiple hours. It is considered to be bad luck to break eye contact while taking the first drink. Lozovača (also known as loza or lozova rakija) is created from grapes picked right off the vine. Travarica is usually made with lozovača as a base, with various herbs added in. It’s the grape rakija that is most common in the coastal regions of Croatia… In fact, the beverage is most often drunk as a digestif and while you may have more than one, it is not customary in the slightest to knock it back in one gulp. There are some pretty intense liquors in Croatia. Say “na zdravje“ if you’re drinking rakija in Slovenia!) If you want to have a guide with you and learn more about the spirit, then we recommend going for a full rakija degustation with a local guide. FV: “Rakija is a very popular drink that is served primarily in Croatia, but also in neighboring countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Montenegro. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Let us know in comments! Eat before or while drinking rakija. Standard Size 750 ml (1) Maraska Kosher Slivovitz 750ml. A few examples are: Vilijamovka or kruškovača – from pearsJabukovača – from applesSadna rakija – from a fruit medleyDunjevača – from quincesKajsijevača – from apricotsDrenovača – from cornelian cherry. A commonly added herb is sage, thought to heal respiratory ailments and contain antibacterial properties. The Balkans region is where Rakia is famously from, with around 8 countries known for making and consuming the drink regularly. Ripening lasts from spring through summer for most fruit. Fruits like apples and plums are shaken from their branches and collected on the ground. Rakijais a very strong fruit brandy, with up to 40% alcohol content. This is one of the younger men whose duty is to carry a huge container on their back. The people never joke with it as you’ll … Pečenje lasts multiple days, or even weeks, depending on the size of the kazan and the amount of fruit. Simply put, rakija … Travarica is a great choice if you'd like a rakija that's tasty and, per tradition, medicinal at the same time. The only exception is pelinkovac, which is both bitter (the word pelin means wormwood) and sweet. Rakija, both homemade and commercially produced, generally contains around 40-60% alcohol by volume, however, it is more common for homemade rakija to be more potent. Rakija (or rakia) is considered to be the national drink of the Balkan nations. Meals & Dining Customs. Most harvests in Croatia are a family affair. But those who work hard during the berba itself get treated to another special occasion: the famous after-berba feast. Another is the immunity-boosting rosemary. She's the most generous of all. Other grapes are pressed for juice and wine while the pomace leftover is made into komovica. Check your spam folder ff you don't see my email. It's important to continue measuring the alcohol content of the rakija, which we do with an alcoholmeter. and make sure you are looking your drinking partners in the eye! Regardless if its distilled in a back garden or in a commercial setting, however, the process is more or less the same. In Belgrade, you will likely be served some rakija if you’re going on something as simple as a walking tour of the city. The most common fruit-based rakijas get their names after the fruit they are distilled from. It’s a strong drink – domestic forms of rakija will have an alcohol content of over 40%, commercial brands slightly less – so it’s important to keep track of how much of the stuff you’re quaffing. Another is the immunity-boosting rosemary. Michael had a hostel worker chase him around insisting he have his welcome shot at 10 AM when he checked in. •, get to know a culture is through its food. Because let’s face it: you’re in the Balkans and you can’t find rakija anywhere else! They use their eyes, nose and ears to spot the signs: when the krovina turns black or the fermented fruit stops making fizzling noises. In the Đurčević family, this process is overseen by the watchful eye of Ica or Đuka who make sure the fruits don't catch disease. Sugar is also added, as well as vanilla, lemon and orange peels, and juice. For instance, it is customary at a wedding for the groom’s father to go around to all of the guests and offer them a shot of rakija. It should be Let's drink a little wine to warm up.". You can find rakija virtually anywhere in the Balkan countries, but the spirit is considered to be the national drink of Serbia and the term Serbian Rakija is actually protected by the EU. This particular Croatian rakija is made from the so-called Williams Pear sort, also known as the European Pear. Wherever you may find yourself in the Balkans, be it in Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, or elsewhere, you’ll rarely be far from a bottle of rakija. Just as there’s apple brandy, plum brandy, berry … It’s the grape rakija that is most common in the coastal regions of Croatia… This brew is considered a cure, not so much a drink. Rakija is the most popular spirit in Croatia. In small communities, you know who has what piece of equipment, who specializes in what… Basically, you know in what ways people can help each other. Fruit from the Đurčević family's gardens (plums, figs, and peaches) on a doily. It is usually served with ‘smokve,’ which are dried … Rakija is a kind of fruit brandy native to the Balkan peninsula and you will be hard-pressed to escape the region without at least being offered the beverage. For orahovac we use lozovača as a base. I usually make makovnjača and orahnjača [sweet roll cakes filled with poppyseeds and walnuts, respectively]. The alcohol content of rakia is normally 40% ABV, but home-produced rakia can be stronger. 3.8 out of 5 stars. After that, it is left to ferment for a number of weeks — usually 3 weeks if making it in the warm late summer, when it is most common. Even today, entire neighborhoods can share a kazan. Rakia, rakija or Raki, is the collective term for fruit spirits popular in the Balkans. Based in Slavonski Brod, their rakija- and wine- making tradition dates back over 100 years. The first distillation can yield almost pure alcohol; around 85% to 90%. Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. The fruit has to ferment for a few weeks before rakija cooking can begin. When rakija in the Balkans, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! The herbs traditionally used in travarica are believed to have medicinal purposes. Locals take turn renting it because not everyone distills at the same time. This is usually lozovača because it has the most neutral taste of all rakijas. The grape-based lozovača might not be ready until fall, but plums, for example, can be distilled as early as July. It's totally up to you and your taste. Thanks, Gary. There is a hidden logic in how a Croatian harvest operates. It is also traditional to offer it to any guest in your home, which is why, if you will be staying at a locally owned hostel, guesthouse, or B&B, you will not be able to avoid it! There is no universal rakija recipe. Croatian sour cherry liqueur visnjevac steeping in the sun. When you are offered a shot, clink glasses as is customary and say “živeli” (zhee-ve-lee, “cheers” in the Serbo-Croatian language. During fermentation, a top layer forms called krovina. Croats don't discriminate. Wine increases blood pressure, making us feel hotter. You may be excited to take shots your first night there, but you will learn your lesson the hard way. Numerous types of rakija are produced all across Croatia. Grapes are then categorized. The kazan used by the Đurčević family in their 2020 pečenje. But we do show our thanks in other ways”, Mirjana says. And here in Croatia’s darling fortified city, where bar tables often face the sparkling Adriatic, locals have … Your email address will not be published. During the ageing period, sometimes other flavours are added to the rakija in order to develop its flavour further. You may also encounter Osjecko (in fact, the oldest beer in Croatia – first brewed in 1697 and from Osijek, again hence the name); the dark beer Tomislav an… When it comes to rakija, 100 liters of liquid will usually provide you with 5 liters of quality rakija. This Croatian alcohol has been produced and perfected in the region for thousands of years. If you want to sip rakija off of an extensive menu with a knowledgable staff, head to Rakia Bar which is located not far at all from Republic Square. Though it is certainly famous amongst the heavy-drinking Balkan backpacker crowd, travellers of all shapes and sizes should learn how to drink rakija in order to gain a more broad understanding of local culture and customs. Hail hits and all you can do is wait to see what the damage is", Đuka comments. Our saying zdrav ko dren [healthy as a cornelian cherry] confirms that belief. Here’s ones of the reasons šljivovica stands out. The first rezidba takes place at the end of February or beginning of March. While the berba is ongoing, another woman and I cook food for later. As its leaves turn from green to orange and gold, its fruit ferments. "My family has been making wine and rakija since around 1900. The exception to the rule is when you drink rakia with friends in a bar, as the main drink. Now that you’ve stocked up with plenty of rakija, do you know how to drink it? We’ve already shared the story about the most popular Croatian wines with you, and now is the time to cover some traditional Croatian spirits, especially rakija. Fermentation times can vary depending on a number of factors. But if all goes well – your fruits should thrive under the Slavonian sunshine, soak in the sporadic summer rains, and fill the air with their blooming fragrance. If you’re anything like … Šljivovica (also known as simply šljiva) is made from plums. In this phase of rakija making, you'll have some time to kill. It’s work, but it’s also a celebration. Maintain eye contact until you have taken the first drink! Drinking from a glass like this actually makes it quite difficult to drink rakija as if you’re doing a shot. Nonetheless, wine and rakija – of all sorts and flavors – are enjoyed in Croatia all year long. Fruit flies (also known as Drosophila) are particularly important in cases of spontaneous fermentations. Dubbed as a South Slavic version of Vodka, it’s a drink that will make you … Harvest times and methods vary depending on your fruit of choice. What did you think? The most popular variation of the brandy is slivovica, or plum rakija, but it is common to find it made from everything from grape, apricot, quince, and fig. Friends and family receive products that are borne from the berba: fresh grapes and fruits, jams, rakijas and wines. Find out which types you can try in Camping Village Šimuni! Homemade Rakija … Check your inbox for the email from Andrea Pisac. Pinky promise! Rakija is the most popular alcoholic drink in Croatia. Notorious for its high alcohol content and easy drinking culture, no trip to the Balkans is complete without sampling … Another well-known Croatian rakija, called travarica, is mostly produced along the coast. Many people before you have made this mistake as well and it’s not until later that they learn that rakija is meant to be sipped and savoured, not down like a tequila shot at a hen do. So next time you make a toast, think about dedicating it to fruit flies; without which your glass would be empty. Rather, the whole distilling period is when the men hang out, sip on rakija from last year, tell jokes, and reminisce on old times. In Lika, for example, there is rakija made from hawthorns: glogova rakija or glogovača. Locals, distant relatives and family members spend time together during a harvest. This makes liqueurs sweeter and less strong. Rakija is usually made from overripe fruit (most often plums, however, really any fruit will due) that is collected and mashed so the juices are released. Warmer wheater shortens the fermentation process. It might seem counterintuitive, but it's true. This … Drinking rakija in the Balkans is surrounded by ritual. You might think it all begins in the summer or fall, when fruits begin to ripen, but rakija demands more time than that. Sugar and fruit are added, then steeped for a while in the sun. It includes rakija recipes, deep dives into different sorts, and locals' stories that give it a cultural context. Though, as rakija experts will tell you, the making of this respected Croatian alcohol should be bestowed only upon choice fruits. 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But experienced rakija producers know exactly when it’s time for the next step. It's very acidic, and if it was mixed into the rest, it would make the rakija sour. For those who think eastern Croatia is all flatland, visit southern Slavonia – the gently rolling hills that await at each turn here might surprise you. Growing up, for fruit, means ripening or reaching maturity. And while you certainly can (and likely will!) Yes, that's me! "We have people in our berba that are older than our vineyard", Đuka jokes, laughing with his parents. Ica explains, "The fruits' slador [natural sugars] create alcohol during the vrenje [fermentation]. "I also love eating the rakija-soaked cherries that I make višnjevac from! The most beloved liqueurs in Croatia are orahovac made with green walnuts and višnjevac with sour cherries. That's why we say, 'The vineyard seeks a servant, not a master' [Vinograd traži slugu, a ne gospodara]. Most households in Croatia have at least one type of rakijastowed away! After the wine production is finished, the distilled liquor that is left over from fermenting the grapes is rakija (also known as grappa … But there's still a long way to go in the process of making this alluring Croatian alcohol. This alcoholic gas is then diverted into the cooling cylinder, where it turns into liquid. If you're looking for a liqueur, Mirjana gives an example of an old family recipe for orahovac. In Croatia, rakija is many things: a delicacy, an art, a pastime, or a sport, depending on who you ask. These include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia… The local spirit is so important in Balkan culture and cuisine that no trip to any of the Balkan nations would be complete without sampling rakija at least once or twice! Twice-distilled rakija is called prepečenica. These are the Đurčević family's favorites: "Vilijamovka is the best", Đuka claims. Ica's wife and Đuka's mother Mirjana Đurčević chimes in: "In a vineyard, you always have work to do. That's Ivan Đurčević the third", Ica chuckles as he explains his family suffixes. Rakia or Rakija is the collective term used for fruit brandy popular in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and other Balkan countries. If you decide to experience rakia in a restaurant, do it while eating … Your email address will not be published. Somewhere in between is rakija with steeped fruit but without added sugar. Our most common dishes for the berba are chicken paprikaš [a hearty stew enriched with paprika spices] as well as prase na ražnju [pig on a spit].