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Rakia (also Rakija or Rachiu) is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by distillation of fermented fruit; it is a popular beverage throughout the Balkans. Its alcohol content is normally 40% ABV, but home-produced rakia can be stronger (typically 50% to 60%). Rakia is prevalently accepted and considered to be а national drink of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia
It was believed that rakia was first created in the 16th century in the Balkans, the location unknown, but the recent discovery of wording on on a sherd of pottery (Аз пих ракиня на празника - I drank rakinja at the celebration (rakinja being the old word for rakia) indicates its presence in 14th century Bulgaria. This discovery may strengthen the case for rakia's Bulgarian origins and allow its designation by the European Union as a national drink, with a consequent allowance to lower excise duty domestically. It is unknown if on the current source the spirit proposed is actually the distilled version, or what method of distillation was used.
Variant names 
Many countries produce similar fruit brandies which are listed here by their local names:
Common flavours are slivovica, produced from plums, kajsija, produced from apricots, or grozdova, produced from grapes. Fruits less commonly used are peaches, apples, pears, cherries, figs, blackberries, and quince. Similar spirits are produced in Romania, Moldova, Russia and the Caucasus. In Albania, rakia is most commonly made out of grapes in mild climate regions and out of plums (and sometimes out of mulberry or walnuts) in colder climate areas.
Plum and grape rakia are sometimes mixed with other ingredients, such as herbs, honey, sour cherries and walnuts, after distillation. A popular home-made variant in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Serbia is rakia produced from mixed fruits. In the Istrian and Dalmatian regions of Croatia, rakia tends to be home-made exclusively from grapes, where the drink is also known locally as trapa or grappa (the latter name also being used in Italy).
It is supposed to be drunk from special small glasses which hold from 0.03 to 0.05 L.
A popular myth is that one can tell the strength of rakia by the size of the ring of bubbles (venac) which forms when the bottle is well shaken. This is also mistakenly used as a measure of the quality of the liquor.
In Greece Ouzo(from grape) and Tsipouro(from pomace) and in Turkey Rakı(from sun dired grapes) and Arak at Arabic countries like but different spirit from rakia they redistilled with some herbs (commonly Anise). But some Tsipuro in Greece without anise is same spirit with pomace rakia (or pomace brandy). And "boğma raki" at Turkey (common name of the domestic raki which produced at home or villages) is same spirit rakia in balkans but it not populer because of distillatian at home not legal at Turkey.
Local varieties 
Albanian rakia 
The Albanian raki (Definite Albanian form: rakia) is a type of rakia found only in Albania. In the Ottoman Empire, until the 19th century, meyhanes would mainly serve wine along with meze, due to religious restrictions imposed by various Sultans. Although there were many Muslims among meyhane attendants, sharia authorities could, at times, prosecute them. With the relatively liberal atmosphere of the Tanzimat Period (1839–1876), meyhane attendance among Muslims rose considerably, and rakia became a favourite among meyhane-goers. By the end of the century, rakia took its current standard form and its consumption surpassed that of wine.
The Albanian raki is made from fermented and distilled fruit, particularly grapes and plums. Albanian raki contains no aniseed and its taste varies according to the fruit used to make it. The process of making rakia is exceptionally difficult, requiring much labor to mash the fruit, ferment it under the proper conditions, ensure the correct amount of fire under the distillery barrel and finally to infuse the final product with leaves from the apple tree. The slightest mistake turns a potentially perfect batch of rakia into what is known as 'soft raki', which is considered by many to not be worth drinking. Also worth noting is that in Albania raki is not mixed with water like in Turkey or other countries. It is drank in small cups called Teke (which means one single shot) or dopio (which mean a double shot in one glass)
Among Catholic Albanians, family gatherings, dinners, and communal meetings are often began with a shot of raki. Before a meal, toasts are made with a shot of raki. "Qjoft te levdua Krishti" - which means, "Praise be to Christ" - are the first words used to begin the toast.
Croatian rakija 
Rakia is the most popular spirit in Croatia. Travarica (herbal rakia) is usually served at the beginning of the meal, together with dried figs. The Croatian Adriatic coast is known for a great variety of herbal grappas, some typical for only one island or group of islands. The island Hvar is famous for grappa with the addition of Myrtus (mrtina — bitter and dark brown). Southern islands, such as Korčula, and the city of Dubrovnik are famous for grappa with anise (aniseta), and in central Dalmatia the most popular rakia is grappa with nuts (orahovica). It's usually homemade, and served with dry cookies or dried figs. In the summer, it's very typical to see huge glass jars of grappa with nuts steeping in the liquid on every balcony, because the process requires the exposure of orahovica to the sun. In the northern Adriatic — mainly Istria — rakia is typically made of honey (medica) or mistletoe (biska). Biska, which is yellow-brown and sweet, is a typical liquor of Istria.
Serbian rakija 
Rakia is one of the most popular alcoholic drink in Serbia. It is usually served before lunch and dinner and is drunk along with appetizers. It is mandatory to drink with roasted pig, lamb, or dried meat. It is a very important part of the Albanian and Serbian cultures and there are many historians that say that the origins of rakia are in Serbia. Serbia has the most consumption of rakia per capita and is the largest exporter of rakia. In a 2009 European Court ruling, the names "Slivovica" (Slivovitz), Dunjevaca, Orahovaca, and Kruskovaca were ruled to be Serbian and thus the country has a trademark on those three types of rakia (Slivovitz being the most famous and most consumed in the world).
Rakia is part of Serbian culture. It is part of many special occasions, including baptisms, marriages, joining of the army, and visiting of friends. At funerals, custom demands that a bottle of rakia be left on the grave of the deceased who liked to drink it, or at least to sprinkle a drop or two during the memorial service for peace of the person’s soul. For some peasants, a flask of rakia is one’s only luggage. Poor peasants many even offer the village doctor, policeman, judge, tax collector, or minister a flask of rakia as a gift of payment. Many folk songs have been composed during rakia production.
In Bulgaria and Macedonia, rakia is generally served with shopska salad, milk salad, pickled vegetables (turshiya) or other salads, which form the first course of the meal. Muskatova rakia is made from Muscat grapes, while the preparation method of dzhibrova rakia is the same as for Italian Grappa.
Another popular way of serving is "cooked" (Croatian: kuhana, Serbian: kuvana or grejana, Bulgarian: греяна (grejana), Macedonian: греена or топла) rakia (also called Šumadija tea in Serbia), which is heated and sweetened with honey or sugar, with added spices. Heated in large kettles, it is often offered to visitors to various open-air festivities, especially in winter. It is similar to mulled wine, as weaker brands of rakia are used (or stronger ones diluted with water).
Ritual use 
Although wine is the essential part of the Eucharist rite in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches in the region, rakia has found uses in certain religious and related rituals across the Balkans.
At the end of the Orthodox Christian burial service, at the exit from the cemetery, visitors are offered a piece of soda bread (pogača) and a glass of rakia. When drinking "for the soul" of the deceased, one spills some rakia on the ground, saying "For peaceful rest of the soul", before drinking the rest.
During wedding ceremonies, the groom's father goes around all tables and offers a glass of rakia to all guests, sharing a toast for the happiness of the newlyweds. In general, in the Balkans, rakia is offered to guests in one's home as a welcoming gesture.
There are many kinds of rakia, depending on the fruit it is produced from:
|Fruits||in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia||in Macedonia||in Bulgaria|
|plum (slivovitz)||šljivovica, шљивовица||сливова (шливка) ракија (slivova rakija)||сливова (slivova)
|grapes||lozovača/loza, лозова ракија/лозовача/лоза||лозова ракија (lozova rakija)||гроздова (grozdova)
|komovica, комова ракија/комовица||комова ракија (komova rakija)||джиброва (dzhibrova)
|apricot||mareličarka, kajsijevača, кајсијевача||ракија од кајсии (rakija od kajsii)||кайсиева (kaysieva)|
|peach||rakija od breskve ракија од брескве||ракија од праски (rakija od praski)||прасковена (praskovena)|
|pear||kruškovača/vilijamovka, крушковача/виљамовка,крушка||ракија од круши (rakija od kruši)||крушoва (krushova)|
|apple||jabukovača, јабуковача||јаболкова ракија (jabolkova rakija)||ябълкова (yabalkova)|
|mulberry||dudova rakija/dudovača/dudara, дудова ракија/дудовача/дудара||ракија од црница (rakija od crnica)||черничева (chernicheva)|
|quince||dunjevača, дуњевача||ракија од дуња (rakija od dunja)||дюлева (dyuleva)|
|fig||smokvovača, смоквача||ракија од смоква (rakija od smokva)||смокинова (smokinova)|
|cherry||višnjevača||црешова ракија (crešova rakija)||черешова (chereshova)|
|mixed fruits||-||плодова (plodova)|
|with roses||ružica||гюлова (gyulova)|
|with herbs||travarica, траварица/trava||билна ракија (bilna rakija)||билкова (bilkova)|
|with juniper||klekovača, клековача|
|with walnuts||orahovača, ораховача/orahovica||ракија од орев (rakija od orev)||орехова (orehova)|
|with honey **||medenica, medovača, medica, zamedljana (very popular in Istria - a region in Croatia), медовача/medovača,||ракија со мед (rakija so med)||медена (medena)|
|with sour cherries||višnjevac/višnjevača, вишњевача||ракија од вишни (rakija od višni)||вишновка (vishnovka)|
|with anise||анасонка (anasonka)||анасонлийка (anasonliyka)|
* Kom or džibra is the fruity grape mash that remains after winemaking. It contains up to 5.5 litres of pure alcohol per 100 kg, and at least 40% dry matter.
** Not to be confused with mead, which is made solely of honey.
See also 
- Veselina Angelova, Liliya Tsatcheva (October 10, 2011). "An Archeologist Has Proved It - Rakia is Bulgarian". Trud. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
- Music of the Sirens, Inna Naroditskaya, Linda Phyllis Austern, Indiana University Press, p.290
- "Hrvati najradije od svih žestokih pića piju rakiju". Večernji list (in Croatian). 28 July 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
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