At least 10 Balkan countries and more than 60 million people have one strong thing in common – a fruit brandy called Rakia. They all claim this drink as its own, but, so far, only one country got the right to call it that way – Serbia. This country is the world’s largest producer, as well as the world’s biggest consumer of Rakia, which lead the EU to award Serbia with trademarks for five different Rakia brands. So, officially, Rakia is the Serbian national brand and certainly the best place in the world to enjoy this distilled fruit brandy. Before you experience Rakia for the first time, check out this ultimate connoisseur’s guide.
In Serbia, a country of the best plums in the world, it is all about Slivovitz (sliva=plum), when it comes to Rakia. However, there is much more than just Slivovitz, for instance, this potent brandy is also made of apples, pears, apricots, quinces, grapes, but also with honey. In all cases, this is the very strong spirit with around 40% alcohol (some even up to 70%), famous for not going away anytime soon.
If you were wondering what makes Serbian Rakia better than others, here is the answer – healthy & organic fruits, as well as a very strict traditional way of homemade brewing. When making their Rakia at home, with their own unsprayed plums, Serbs don’t add any preservatives or sugar to soften the flavour. This way the resulting taste is the most natural one and amazingly distinctive. With more than 10,000 private Rakia brewer, every Serb has either father, grandfather or cousin who makes this drink in the village.
There is almost nothing as authentic as Rakia when we speak about this Balkan country. It is literary Serbia in a bottle. People here are so passionate about and proud of their national drink. All over the country, Rakia is the most served drink. There are many Rakia bars and also festivals dedicated to the queen of spirits.
One thing is sure, no one stays indifferent when it comes to Rakia, including international stars. For example, being impressed by Serbian moonshine during her stay in Belgrade, Lady Gaga purchased a funny T-shirt that promotes Slivovitz. Later on, she wore it as a support and a nice memory on this unique souvenir.
Even though the quality of commercial Rakia, produced by few brewers in Serbia, is lower than those homemade, if you are looking to buy some, you should opt for “Gorda”, “Žuta Osa”, or “Stara Sokolova 12” (12 years old). And when you plan to give a toast with Rakia - Serbian national brand, do as Serbs would do: look into others eyes, raise & clink your glasses while saying “Živjeli” (Cheers)!
I am Ljiljana, from Bosnia & Herzegovina. Being a journalist, I can't escape from that perspective when travelling. My mission is to make you explore the last Europe’s undiscovered gem.