Rakia - best souvenir from Bulgaria. Choosing rakia for a New Year's party
What is this drink made from? Is it possible to make this Bulgarian miracle at home? What kinds of rakia are sold in shops and restaurants in Bulgaria and how much does it cost?
Rakia is the most popular strong alcoholic drink in the Balkans. In Bulgaria, it’s an essential attribute of every feast and has the status of a national product.
Bulgarian rakia has a distinctive aroma and taste and can be compared with Italian grappa, Mexican tequila, Japanese sake, American brandy and, of course, Russian samogon.
Origin of the word
The word "rakia" comes from the Turkish "raki", which, in turn, has Arabic roots and is derived from the word "arak".
Many Bulgarian words are invented to refer to objects, people and processes related to the production of the drink.
Rakidzhiynitsa - place where rakia is made
Rakidzhiya - person who makes rakia and/or a fan of the drink
Jibri - grape pomace from which rakia is made
Other words that are used in western Bulgaria:
Kazan - device for making rakia
Kazanjia – kazan manager
Comina - squeezed grapes
And while in the central regions the process of making rakia is called “boiling”, on the west it’s referred to as “baking”.
The production of rakia is a simple process. Therefore, in addition to industrial production in Bulgaria, homemade production of this alcoholic beverage is also thriving.
The necessary ingredients are water, sugar and fruits, the quality of which determines the characteristics of the finished product. In addition, grape wine can be added to the mix, and its’ quality also affects the taste and aroma of the future rakia.
Necessary equipment - distiller-alambik (in Bulgarian "kazan").
It’s usually made of copper. Raw materials are placed in a cauldron, heated over a fire, evaporated and cooled with cold water. The prepared liquid is stored in oak barrels. The longer the spirit is stored in a barrel, the better it becomes. In Bulgarian aged rakia is called “otlezhala”.
The strength of the resulting drink reaches 50-60 %. In industrial production, the alcohol content usually doesn’t exceed 40%.
Colorless at the beginning, the liquid can take on various shades from yellowish to light brown, depending on the aging time in oak barrels and the addition of various spices.
Types of rakia in Bulgaria
It’s not only grapes that are being used for the production of the spirit in Bulgaria. For example, plum rakia is also very popular. In addition to that, apricots, pears, apples, cherries, quinces and even oil-bearing roses, which are grown in the central regions of Bulgaria, can be used.
What rakia can be found in Bulgarian shops? What rakia is served in the restaurants?
|Fruits used for production||What’s on the bottle label|
|Plum||сливова / slivova|
|сливовица / slivovnitsa|
|шльокавица / shlyokavitsa|
|Grape||гроздова / grozdova|
|гроздовица / grozdovitsa|
|грозданка / grozdanka|
|лозова / lozova|
|мускатова / muskatova|
|Grape pomace||джиброва / djibrova|
|джибровица / djibrovitsa|
|комовица / komovitsa|
|Apricot||кайсиева / kaisieva|
|Pear||крушова / krushova|
|Apple||ябълкова / yabalkova|
|калвадос / kalvados|
|Quince||дюлева / dyuleva|
|Fig||смокинова / smokinova|
|Cherry||черешова / chereshova|
|вишнева / vishneva|
|Mix of fruits||плодова / plodova|
|Peach||прасковена / praskovena|
|Oil rose||гюловица / gyulovitsa|
|Pumpkin||тиквена / tikvena|
|Melon||пъпешова / papeshova|
The manufacturer can improve the taste of a finished drink with the following additives: lemon, nuts, honey, herbs and spices, such as anise or hot pepper. This information will also be indicated on the label.
Ways to drink
How to drink rakia? Rakia is an excellent aperitif and is served in small glasses just before eating. In summer time it’s cooled or served at room temperature. In winter Bulgarians drink rakia heated on fire in a special copper vessel. The drink is seasoned with cinnamon, orange zest and other spices.
Rakia goes very well with vegetable salads, pickles, bacon and dry sausages.
Bulgarians are sure that good rakia is also a medicine that has a refreshing and analgesic effect. The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences recommends daily evening intake of 50 grams of rakia for the prevention of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, migraines, better blood circulation and heart health. Rakia is always present at the festive table in Bulgarian families and is obligatory in the menu of restaurants serving national Bulgarian cuisine.
Famous brands and prices in restaurants and shops
Dozens of large and small wineries in Bulgaria also produce rakia, as they use the same raw materials for this. Not all of them, of course, have their rakia for sale in stores. However, in any supermarket you can find at least ten to fifteen brands of this spirit from different manufacturers.
The most famous manufacturers of rakia and their brands:
|Vinarska Izba Domaine Boyar||Quantum|
|Vinarska Izba Karabunar||Kulturna Original|
|Vinarska Izba Slavyantsi||Sungularska|
|Vinarska Izba Starosel||Domashna|
|Vinprom Cave||Kaylashka Grozdova|
|Vinprom Chernomorsko Zlato Pomorie||Alambic|
|Burgas 63 12 years old|
|Burgas 63 Barel|
|Burgas 63 Perlova|
|Burgas 63 Traminer|
|Muscatova, Perlova, Kehlibar|
|Vinprom Ruse||Ruschuklyjska rakiyka|
|Stara Rusenska Muscatova|
|Vinprom Sliven||Slivenska 12 years old|
|Slivenska 25 years old|
The capacity of the bottles is 0.5 l, 0.7 l and 1 l.
How much is rakia in a store? Ordinary varieties - from 3-4 euros for 0.5 l. Aged and special - from 8-10 euros per bottle. The price of the most expensive unique varieties with an age of up to 25 years can be as high as 100 euros per bottle.
In a restaurant, a 50 gram serving of beverage costs from about 1 euro.
While on vacation in Bulgaria, be sure to try rakia and bring it as a souvenir to your friends. Cheers!
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