Rakia (also Rakija or Rachiu) is an alcoholic drink produced from fermented fruits and consumed throughout the Balkans, from Turkey to Croatia. The origins and history of the drink are unknown, but, in all probability, rakia was introduced in late Middle Ages by the Ottoman Turks.
Nevertheless, rakia is regarded as a national drink in all countries – Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia. Similar drinks, however, can be found in Greece, Romania, Russia, Moldova and the Caucasus region.
The normal alcohol percentage of rakia is about 40%. However, home-made rakia can boast as much as 50-60% while prepecenica, a double-distilled rakia produced in Serbia can even exceed the 60% of alcohol. Rakia is made from various fruits and ingredients. Perhaps the most common and most widely known types of rakia are slivovica, rakia made of plums (the word comes from the Serbo-Croatian word for plum, sljiva), and kajsija , rakia made from apricots. Rakia is also produced from grapes, apples, peaches, cherries, blackberries, pears, figs and quince. The black rakia made of fresh walnuts is also popular in Serbia.
Rakia is normally either colorless or has a light yellow color, but it can come in various colors depending on the ingredients or storage – for example, a walnut rakia has a dim, dark, almos black color, cherry rakia is reddish, while special types of rakias, kept for decades in oak or mulberry barrels have golden color and full, rich taste.
Rakia is traditionally drunk from special small rakia glasses which hold from 0.03 to 0.05 L.
In the cultures and daily life of the people of the Balkans, rakia has a unique place – it is used as a medicine, it is featured during wedding celebrations and funeral services and it can also be viewed as a sign of welcome and good will among friends and relatives. Back in the past, it was also believed to be able to chase the evil spirits away – yes, it is really THAT good.