Rakia (also Rakija) is fruit brandy that is produced by
distillation of fermented fruit; it is a popular beverage throughout the
Balkans, Italy, and France. Its alcohol content is normally 40% ABV, but
home-produced rakia can be stronger (typically 50% to 60%). Prepečenica is
double-distilled rakia which has an alcohol content that may exceed 60%.
Left: Plum rakia
from the region of Elena, Bulgaria.
Rakia is considered to be the national drink among some of the South Slavic and
Albanian peoples. Common flavours are slivovitz, produced from plums, Kaisijeva,
produced from apricots and grozdova (also called lozovača), made from grapes.
Fruits less commonly used are peaches, apples, pears, cherry, figs, and quinces.
Popular home made variants in Bulgaria and Serbia is rakia produced from mixed
fruits. In the Istrian and Dalmatian regions of Croatia, rakia tends to be
home-made exclusively from grapes, where the drink is also known locally as
grappa (the latter name also being used in Italy). Plum and grape rakia
are sometimes mixed with other ingredients, such as herbs, honey, sour cherries
and walnuts, after distillation.
Normally, rakia is colorless, unless herbs or other
ingredients are added. Some types of rakia are kept in wooden barrels (oak or
mulberry) for extra aroma and a golden colour.
In Bulgaria and Republic of Macedonia, rakia is generally served with
salad, milk salad, pickled vegetables (turshiya) or other salads, which form the
first course of the meal. Muskatova rakiya is made from Muscat grapes, while the
preparation method of dzhibrova rakiya is the same as for Italian Grappa, which
is made with all and any kind of fruit.
In Croatia, travarica (herbal rakia) is usually served at the beginning of the
meal, together with dried figs. The Croatian Adriatic coast is known for a great
variety of herbal grappas, some typical for only one island or group of islands.
The island Hvar is famous for grappa with the addition of myrrh (mrtina Ч bitter
and dark brown). Southern islands, such as Korčula, and the city of Dubrovnik
are famous for grappa with anise (aniseta), and in central Dalmatia the most
popular rakia is grappa with nuts (orahovica). It's usually homemade, and served
with dry cookies or dried figs. In the summer, it's very typical to see huge
glass jars of grappa with nuts steeping in the liquid on every balcony, because
the process requires the exposure of orahovica to the sun. In the northern
Adriatic Ч mainly Istria Ч rakia is typically made of honey (medica) or
mistletoe (biska). Biska, which is yellow-brown and sweet, is a typical liquor
Another popular way of serving is "cooked" (Croatian: kuhana, Serbian:
grejana, Bulgarian: гре€на (grejana), Macedonian: греена or
топла) rakia (also
called Šumadija tea in Serbia), which is heated and sweetened with honey or
sugar, with added spices. Heated in large kettles, it is often offered to
visitors to various open-air festivities, especially in winter. It is similar to
mulled wine, as weaker brands of rakia are used (or stronger ones diluted with