Mastika: a Bulgarian Aphrodisiac
Whilst in Bulgaria you may have seen people, ok mostly men, drinking an icy aniseed liquid called Mastika. Whilst Greek in its origin, Mastika is one of Bulgaria’s most popular spirits with local versions produced here. It is usually mixed as a cocktail with a mint liqueur called Menta; this combination is called Oblak or Cloud in English.
Many Bulgarians prefer to accompany their glass of Mastika with a glass of the Bulgarian yoghurt drink Ayran, but one thing everyone insists on is that Mastika must be served cold and for this reason most people store their bottles in the freezer compartment and when Mastika is frozen the liquid forms small ice crystals.
Mastika is often drunk as a celebratory tipple at various feasts and celebrations particularly as a toast. It is also a perfect accompaniment to traditional Bulgarian chicken dishes. Perhaps the greatest story associated with Mastikais that it is an aphrodisiac, so ladies beware of men sipping innocently on a frozen aniseed liquid!
The name Mastika comes from the Greek word masticho, which means “to chew, to gnash the teeth.": Originally it was made from the resin from the Mastic tree, however today a base of Rakia (favoured versions are made from plums, grapes or figs) is usually used and then to give the distinctive aniseed taste, the Rakia used to be either filtered through roots from the Mastic tree or mixed with its resin, however today natural anethol is used and this gives it its characteristic ice crystals.
Bulgaria’s Local Brewer
Vinprom Peshtera, whose head office is situated in Plovdiv is Bulgaria’s leading producer of Mastika. Much of its production is centred on the small town of Peshtera, which lies in the TrakiaValley.
Vinprom Peshtera has reproduced the recipes to some delicious Mastika cocktails including the famous Cloud cocktail. Why not experiment with some of these recipes next time you visit Bulgaria.
50 ml mastic brandy, 50 ml crème de menthe. Mix the liquids together with ice and serve.
50ml mastic brandy, 60ml milk, 60 ml cream, 30 ml sugar syrup
Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice cubes and strain them in a wine glass. It is served on the rocks.
40 ml dry gin, 40 ml mastic brandy
Mix the ingredients in a glass and add ice.
10 ml mastic brandy, 40 ml dry gin, 1 egg white
Mix ingredients in a shaker, strain them into a glass, and add ice.
Picture above and cocktail recipes courtesy of Vinprom Peshtera www.peshtera.com