Posted by: bluesyemre | September 29, 2014

Rakı Dos and Don’ts

Don't forget to cheers!

  • On warm nights in Istanbul everyone is out. Restaurants open their doors onto the sidewalks of back streets, creating a maze of tables and chairs. Waiters dance around the diners with bottles of spirits and plates of food while customers sing along with live musicians. On the coast, old hobbyist fishermen spread carpets, grill the day’s catch and drink from Turkish teacups as they talk. However, it’s not beer at the tables or black tea in those delicate glass cups. For celebration, commiseration or just an evening around the table with close friends, rakıis the alcoholic beverage of choice in Turkey. Also known as Lion’s Milk, this drink has an almost mystical reputation for shattering social niceties and piercing through to the soul. About three hundred years ago, rakı production first appeared in Anatolia. Alcohol artisans began to use the waste of wine pressing, the grape seed, stem, skin and flesh, to concoct this new spirit. All these centuries later, most rakı is now made from dried grapes with the addition of anise seeds, and has become a mainstay of Turkish meyhane (bar) culture. The most expert of imbibers can sit the whole night eating and toasting and never dropping the thread of conversation. New arrivals to Turkey will soon find themselves out with friends eager to give them their first taste of this strong drink. It’s best to be prepared for the situation.

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