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Rakia - Bourbon of Bulgaria

Rakia has been the most popular alcoholic drink of Bulgaria since as far back as the 14th century. Taken from the Turkish name raki, rakia is basically a fruit brandy which is most commonly made from grapes, however it is also made from using most of Bulgaria’s home grown native fruits such as pears, apricots, plumbs, figs, and quince.

Homemade rakia is still a very much part of the culture in Bulgaria and most villagers will have the means of producing their own stock each year from recipes inherited from their ancestors. Ask any local to tell you who makes the best rakia and he or she will tell you that theirs is by far the best. Try putting them to the test and you will discover that it’s not always the case, although a good Rakia made in the garden of a local can be as good if not better than a mature Scotch Whiskey.


Rakia can vary in its alcohol content and you will find it ranging from 30 – 50% alcohol although most shop bought Rakia will more commonly be around 40%, the same as whiskey and brandy etc.

The more serious connoisseurs of rakia will distil the fermented fruits of their choice, and when the process is finished the end produce will be stored in oak casks for several years. However, this is rarely the case of the hasty villager who has by now waited long enough for his prized Bulgarian bourbon, and he is much more likely to store his rakia in bottles which range from former whiskey bottles or even plastic water or pop bottles.  Rakia at this young stage will be extremely high in alcohol, as much as 80%. It can be harmful to drink at this point and should be left to mature for at least one month.

Rakia is traditionally consumed with salad due to its high water content as it is important to take in water with your tipple. In addition, a glass of juice, fizzy pop or mineral water should accompany the drink.

Winter Warmer Recipe

During the winter months, this depending on the region of Bulgaria can be very harsh, It’s not uncommon to see Bulgarian’s drinking heated rakia. This will be mixed with the correct quantity of sweetener, usually sugar or honey. For every half litre of rakia approximately 2 tablespoons of sweetener should be added. The container used should have a lid or cap to prevent the escape of steam and in turn alcohol. Once the brew has reached boiling point it should be removed from its heat source. It is now ready to drink.

Bulgarian people are extremely sociable and a great way for them to introduce themselves and socialise is over a glass or two of rakia.