Traditional Rakija

The Balkan region all shares a traditional drink- rakija is a strong spirit served in most cafes and all bars in the Balkan region. It can be found in most every household. There are many uses for rakija, a sore throat, as antiseptic, or improving the mood of guests, rakija is administered by most families in the Balkan region. A community prepared drink is served in a thin tall glass. It’s not to be sipped, or tasted, but to be shot in one go. Responding afterwards with a complement of its strength “uf…good one.” The preparation is just as communal as the celebratory uses of the beverage. Everyone gets together with their ripest fruits including combinations of, or either plums, grapes, pears, figs, walnuts, or quince to fill wooden containers and mixed. Once fermented the contents are referred to as marc is poured into copper kettles which will be cooked in the traditional distillation method, distilled once for a gentler version and twice for the more popular higher proof version.

At meals rakija is used as an aperitif and an after-meal drink. Honey rakija is my favorite version of the drink. Other varieties to try out are thick liquor styles called višnjevac which is made from cherries, dunjovača from quince, then the orahovac from walnuts. Other options are very strong made with herbs called travarica and the šljivovica from plums, lozovača made with grapes and komovica from the stronger grape mixture.

While traveling around I’ve organized a couple recipes for rakija. The recipes are Moroccan Style Rakija Spare Ribs, Saint Ten Hotel Rakija Sour, Rakija Liqueur and Cinnamon Rakija Martini. Youtube video about drinking around Belgrade.

I also did a tour with Urban Distillery Belgrade, the video is on Youtube.

We ended up with a couple of bottles from our stay in Boljevac, I have the story of Boljevac linked here. We had to leave early due to internet issues, instead of asking for a refund we traded some of his goods. We bought tea, rakija and honey.