Raki has roots deep in Turkish culture and is strong alcohol with an alcohol content ranging between 40-50%. Raki gets its distinctive flavor from the two to three times distillation of grapes (sometimes raisins too) and aniseed. It is a celebratory drink and medicine to soothe the mind and heal the heart.
Raki, known as “Lion’s Milk,” is the national drink of Turkey, and unlike beer or wine, which can be enjoyed any time of the day or at any place, you should not drink this beverage alone or in the mornings.
Hence, the question, what is the proper way to drink Raki?
Raki is relished usually just before or shortly after the sunset and is best savored by sipping with friends, family, or a gathering. Also, it is enjoyed in a glass called “kadeh” with melons or cheese, and remember to clink the bottoms while toasting.
Further in the article, we will guide you through the rules you need to be aware of while drinking Raki and talk about Raki cocktails.
Traditional Way of Drinking Raki
In Turkey, the ritual of Raki is not simple, and the most significant aspect is the people, which indicates that Raki is not meant to be drunk alone. Let’s see how is Raki drunk traditionally.
Appetizers & Food
There is a long list of appetizers to enjoy with Raki, but the best appetizers, according to the Turks, are people. Other than that, cheese and melons are the starting appetizers with this beverage. The appetizers with Raki are referred to as Mezze and contain hot and cold foods.
Fish goes very well with Raki. The flavor of Raki compliments the fish and is usually served after the Mezze in meyhanes (meaning wine houses) by grilling it.
A tip for the newbie Raki drinkers, try drinking Turkish tea with Raki. It will keep you from getting drunk. Check out how to make Turkish tea here.
Sip It, Not Shot It
The milky hue of the Raki comes when it comes into contact with ice or is mixed with water, and sipping is the way to go when drinking it. It is quite a strong alcoholic beverage, so sipping it prevents you from getting drunk early on.
Also, getting drunk yourself is not part of a Raki gathering; you are meant to get drunk with your friends and family while letting your feelings do the talking.
A Gathering and A Talk
The Raki table can have a gathering of as small as five people or as large as 25 people, everybody takes turns to speak, and it is considered impolite to disrupt someone or cut them off while they are talking (even if you do it politely).
The talk should be natural and try not to be selfish by talking too much or boasting. The start should follow daily life troubles and transition towards politics, and everyone should have a hearty talk. Out of all, whatever is said and done stays at the table.
Music is a must to set the mood, but if you go for heavy and loud-sounding music, you can surely make your Turkish friend not approach you throughout the Raki night.
The slow music with a light ambiance and at just enough volume to know there is background music goes well with Raki, as it is drunk to converse openly.
Remember to be respectful, and always check for the oldest person in the group at the table. At the Raki gathering, that person commences the drinking by drinking first.
Also, checking your phone and texting is a no-go; if you get a call, turn it off by saying, “I am at a Raki night.” Slang words are considered okay, but no swearing is allowed, so try to avoid that too.
Always toast with the bottom of the Raki glass, and the glass of a younger person should be lower compared to the person who is older while doing so. The reason to clink bottom highlights that you consider the person equal to you. Conversely, clinking the top emphasizes superiority (not good).
Sipping the Raki is a must after that. But another beautiful tradition is slightly knocking the table with the glass, which signifies remembrance of a lost friend/family member and a toast to someone who is not with you at the table.
While there are many cocktails of Raki, one thing to be mindful of is to avoid mixing it with other liquors as it is overwhelming itself. Usually, beer, fruit juices, coffee, and tea, are the main ingredients behind the different cocktails of Raki.
Raki Mule is a cocktail with ingredients such as lemon juice, ginger beer, and Raki. To make it, use 1.5 oz. of Raki, one oz. of lemon juice, and 6-7 oz. of ginger beer. Add them to a glass and stir well; use lemon peels, ice, and cucumber slices for garnishing and enjoy!
Check out a list of 81 Raki Cocktails here.
Raki is consumed with a tremendous amount of food on Raki night, and people discuss their routine problems and open their hearts to others. The end of the Raki night is followed by a cup of Turkish coffee, usually at midnight.
The best way to enjoy Raki is by sipping it slowly in the company of your loved ones or best friends; even if you are far apart, do so on a video session. Prepare some appetizers to have a hearty conversation with them, and share your feelings. Serefinize! (Cheers!)