Here’s a quick glance what makes it addictive and how it must be enjoyed.
Goans drink Feni, Japanese savour Sake, Mexicans enjoy Mezcal and Turks love Raki! And, boy, you got to be man enough to guzzle the Turkish spirit. ‘Coz when you open a bottle of Raki – a strong unsweetened concoction produced from grapes, raisins and aniseed, which lends the pungent flavour – will emit a strange smell.
But nearly six million litres of Raki is consumed every year in Turkey. So, there definitely has to be something too-good-to-resist about the potent beverage. Here’s a word of caution, the powerful punch of aniseed and licorice may not suit your palate. You may take time to fall in love with what Turk’s call Aslan Sütü or Lion’s Milk or not like it at all. It’s a chance that every spirit lover should take though.
Most Raki lovers mix the spirit with water and/or ice (it turns milky and, so, it is called Lion’s Milk), but some enthusiastic drinkers blended it with other spirits to make sophisticated cocktails, like Istanbul – orange liqueur, lime, pomegranate juice and Raki, Turkish martini – Raki, vanilla vodka, Turkish coffee and almond syrup, Swinging Sulta – Pomegranate juice, lime and Raki et al.
By the way, Turkish people don’t order the clear spirit over the counter, like beer or whiskey, at a pub or night club. Drinking the Raki is a serious affair! Ideally it should be savoured at a meyhane (traditional Turkish bar or restaurant), followed by intense conversations, belly dancers grooving to Turkish music and local culinary companions like mezes of cooked and chilled vegetables, smoked eggplants, feta cheese, melons, pine nuts and a range of kebabs, meat and fish preparations.
And it is the most food-friendly spirit. In fact if you don’t fill up on the grub in all likelihood in your head you will feel like an astronaut who is flying up and above. But a glass or two is good to go for a romance with Raki.
If you are excited and enthused to try the Turk’s unofficially official drink, there’s lots to choose from. The safe bets are Yeni Raki, Efe Raki, Tekirdağ Rakısı, Yekta, Kulüp Rakısı, Sarı Zeybek and Altınbaş. Just make sure you say ‘Serefe’ before you take a sip of the Lion’s Milk.
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Wine & Spirits Specialist. Whisky Enthusiast. Marketing Wizard. Globetrotter. Runner. Passionate. Just a few words that concisely but aptly define me, Vaniitha Jaiin. ..