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Rakia: Five things you should know before drinking it

3 minutes to read

Rakia. Ring a bell? If you don't want to have bells ringing in your head after drinking it, you have to know several rules on how to consume it. Check this Guidelines for a successful experience and follow the next five points.

Rakia is a fruit brandy popular in Central Europe and Southeast Europe. The alcohol content of rakia is normally 40% ABV, but home-produced rakia can be stronger (typically 50% to 80%, even going as high as 90% at times).

1. Choose a good rakia.

This might be the most important rule of all. High-quality rakia will never leave you with an awful hangover. Here is how experienced drinkers would describe good rakia: "This rakia is really good. I drank half a liter last night and didn’t even have a slight headache the morning after!" The more natural it is, the better. You can find this homemade rakia in almost every home in The Balkans, and also on the open markets. In Belgrade, every restaurant serves good rakia, and that is maybe the basic requirement to run a restaurant in Belgrade. Taking care of the high quality of this brandy is how rakia unites the Balkans.

2. Give it time

Sometimes it’s served in a small shot glass, don't do it like you would drink any other shot-liquor. Drinking rakia in the Balkans is supposed to happen while talking with friends, in a slowly manner. It is hard liquor, take your time.

3. Eat before or while drinking rakija

If you decide to experience rakia in a restaurant, do it while eating a salad or "meze" (Slavic tapas) as the first part of the meal. You can continue drinking it during the meal, I certainly do, but it is not the common thing. If your choice is to drink rakia in the bar, be sure not to do that hungry. This is applicable for drinking every alcohol. But rakia can take all your memories if you do it hungry.

4. Have a smart timeline

In Belgrade, you can find so many different kinds of rakia that you will have the feeling that the life is too short to try every different kind of this liquor. With a smart plan, you can try all and still remember everything. It is not a sin if you drink rakia in the morning. Many consider this as a ritual for longevity. My grandmother did this every morning. You can start your day with honey rakia, and after you can create your own list: cherry rakia, quince rakia, apricot rakia, plum rakia, pear rakia, grape rakia, raspberry rakia... Just be sure to make enough space between them so that everyone can make an independent impression.

5. Sing

After third or fourth rakia when you find yourself in Skadarlija, the bohemian district in Belgrade, you will see that everything here is adapted so you can have the full rakia experience. When you decide to sing, there is a musician ready to follow you even while walking down the street. DON’T WEAR HIGH HEELS. Skadarlija is street that’s paved with small stones. Walking here without rakia and high heels is even challenging, so imagine with rakia!

With this text, I don't want to encourage drinking alcohol, but to share small tips on how not to make rakia a bad experience. Belgrade is a place where rakia is celebrated in festivals. We have ‘’rakia days’’, and even pubs dedicated to rakia. Don't miss Rakia bar! Here you can find high-quality rakia and people willing to share their knowledge about this liquor.

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The author

Zlata Golaboska

Zlata Golaboska

I am Zlata and I am an architect living in the Balkans. I am passionate about cities, how people influence architecture and vice versa, and how places change our lives.

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