Turkısh alcohol raki

Turkish Raki – How to Drink Turkey’s National Alcohol?

What is Raki?

There is no one who does not know about Turkey’s drink, Raki. At the Raki table, both the most beautiful friendships are established and the grief is shared. Raki is a national alcoholic beverage belonging to the Turks. It is a drink that is produced by fermenting grape juice with ethyl alcohol yeast and flavoring it with aniseed. The meaning of the raki table for Turks is very great. For tourists, it is the key to getting drunk with “Turkish drink”, having fun and delicious “mezes” at the raki table, especially in coastal cities in summer. Today we will examine Turkey’s raki with you!

Turkish Raki
Raki is never drunk alone!

A Brief History of Raki

Raki is the Turkish translation of the word “arak”, which means “distilled” in Arabic. Turks started to pronounce this word as “Araki“. Later, in the Ottoman Period, the word Arak became Raki. The Ottomans began to use this word especially to mean distilled grape juice.

Raki is an alcoholic beverage that originated during the Ottoman Empire. It was a drink produced and consumed in Ottoman lands, especially by non-Muslim Armenians and Greeks. In the 19th century, it became the most popular drink, especially in taverns run by non-Muslims. Another view is that raki was first produced by the Turkmen in Iraq and spread throughout the region.

The First Registered Raki of the Ottoman Empire

In 1880, the Ottoman Empire allowed private sector entrepreneurs to produce industrial raki under the supervision of the administration. Some managers affiliated to Sultan Abdulhamit II set up a factory in Tekirdağ and launched Umurca Raki, the first registered raki brand of the Ottoman Empire.

Umurca Raki
Umurca Raki, Ottoman Brand

Raki Culture in Turkey

If we go back to today, raki is one of the indispensable national drinks for Turks. There are many raki taverns all over Turkey. Recently, “new generation concept raki taverns”, especially preferred by young people, have emerged. There are some ways and cultural points of drinking raki for Turks. Let’s take a look together. Turks call raki “Lion’s Milk” among themselves. A drink fit for a lion!

Raki meze
There are delicious meze (appetizers) on the raki table.

How to Drink Raki?

Raki is drunk slowly, gulp by sip, along with appetizers. It is drunk by adding water to raki. When water is added to raki, alcohol molecules are dispersed in the water. Added water reduces the alcohol content and fails to dissolve the anise pigment. Since the pigment does not dissolve, it suddenly turns from a transparent color to white. Raki is added to half of the raki glass and water is added to the remaining part. Thus, it becomes ready to drink.

Raki water
As soon as water is added to the raki, the white color appears.

Raki Table and Meze (Appetizers)

One of the most beautiful aspects of the raki table is that it is equipped with many delicious meze (appetizers). The indispensable mezes (appetizers) of the raki table are: haydari (thick yoghurt with garlic and dill), feta cheese, lakerda, caciki, fried calamari, saksuka (dried fried aubergines in tomato garlic sauce), muhammara (dish of crushed walnuts, stale bread, tahini, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice), sea beans, melon and many more appetizers…

However, the main event of the raki table is its spirit. Turks set the raki table only with their true friends. A raki table is set up for a celebration, entertainment, or for sharing bad news or love pain with friends. Those who are troubled can relax by drinking raki with their close friends and sharing their troubles and sorrows. In addition, raki is drunk in slow gulps with conversation.

While sipping your raki slowly, you will taste the flavor of the meze (appetizers).

Turkish Raki Glasses

The raki glass is thin and long and 40 ml as standard. Wherever you go in Turkey, whichever raki tavern you go to, you will always see glasses in the same form. Because raki is always drunk in thin and long shaped glasses.

Turkish Raki Alcohol Percentage

The alcohol content of raki varies between 40% and 50% depending on the brands.

Turkish Raki Brands

From 1935 to 2003, raki production in Turkey was based on the state brand “Yeni Raki“. Private brands were allowed after 2003. That’s why the most well-known brand of raki is “Yeni Raki”.

  • Yeni Raki
  • Beylerbeyi Raki
  • Kulüp Raki
  • Tekirdag Raki
  • Altinbas Raki
  • Efe Raki
  • İzmir Raki
  • Anadolu Bogma Raki
  • Mercan Raki
  • Saki Siyah Uzüm Raki
Iconic bottles of Yen Raki
Iconic bottles of Yen Raki

What is the difference between Turkish Raki and Greek Ouzo?

Turkish Raki and Greek Ouzo are very similar to each other. As a difference; Turkish raki has less anise variety and higher alcohol content. The name Ouzo emerged when the Greeks on the island of Chios gave the brand “Use of Sultan Only” to the raki produced.

Today we told you about Turkish liquor raki. Have you ever drank raki in Turkey?

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