“Exploring Serbian Tradition:
A Guide to the Top 3 Types of Rakija You Must Try
Serbia is a country rich in tradition, and a significant part of that cultural legacy is related to rakija, a local brandy that holds a special place in the hearts of Serbians. While most commonly made from plums, rakija can also be crafted from a variety of other fruits, each offering a unique flavor profile. In every Serbian household, a bottle of rakija, often from a local handmade supplier, is a staple.
Upon meeting locals, your initiation into Serbian hospitality will likely involve an invitation for coffee and rakija. Embrace the opportunity to taste and cheer with the locals as you explore the diverse world of this cherished spirit. Here are the most common types of rakija you’re likely to encounter during your travels:
Grandpa’s rakija is first on the list. While spending time with locals here in Serbia, you will probably sit with someone who brought rakija made by his grandpa. This kind of rakija usually comes in a bottle of Coca-Cola or some other recycled bottle. The reason is very simple: it’s the easiest way to pour it from the big barrel in your basement. Since rakija is poured out very often, usually the first bottle that you get in your hand will be filled with this precious liquid. The person who brought rakija will claim that this is the best rakija that you ever tried. Even if all rakija tastes the same for people who drink it for the first time, you have to honor and respect such a crafty taste of rakija and give it a try. Probably it will taste like fuel on the first sip, but no worries; the more you drink, it will be less intense. Drinking with locals will last as long as that bottle. It will be very difficult not to drink even if you never drink spirits. No special advice on that; just try not to get wasted.
Uncle’s rakija. Almost every Serbian has an uncle who lives and makes rakija somewhere in the village. Very often, that person is not a real uncle, but it’s so difficult to explain Serbian relatives and family relationships that it’s much easier to just name him uncle. The uncle usually uses more advanced techniques since he is a cool guy and he wants to accept new technologies. So he will probably explain how all the fruits were washed before being put in the big barrel. Then he will explain that these fruits were separated from the seeds, and this will give rakija a very nice and smooth flavor. With all these new and fancy skills, rakija will probably taste the same for you. For such an intense flavor, you don’t have to be an expert, but still, as long as the rakija is coming from family members, it will be perfect. You can’t shame your product in front of your family.
Mystery bottle is the only rakija that the family has in the house. This bottle has been sitting in storage for a long time, and nobody knows its origin. The bottle will be, again, some recycled bottle from whiskey or wine, probably brought by some of the relatives or neighbors during slava – Serbian Orthodox holiday where we celebrate a saint’s day. No matter the taste of the rakija, everyone will cherish this rakija and try to guess which family made it. With this kind of rakija is a total surprise on the faces of the locals before they try it, it will be very fun to watch the faces of the locals before they try it. However, after the first sip, you as a beginner, it will be the same as any other rakija.
Now, with this introduction, it will be much easier for you to know what to expect and what will be waiting for you once you get in touch with local people.