Monday, April 7, 2014

A ‘Raki’ Road Ahead

Fire water.
After dinner drink.
An acquired taste.
A favorite!
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Raki served with dessert and usually both are complimentary
We might call these the Four Phases of Cretan Raki, also known by its longer and more formal name, tsikoudia.  In other parts of Greece, like the Peloponnese where we are this week, the clear liquid is known as tsipouro. Turkey’s version has a taste of anise seed.

I recall the first sip – now several years ago – reminded me of drinking medicinal rubbing alcohol, or a form of fire water.  Somehow we’ve moved to phase four: a favorite.

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Knossos on Crete - ancient Minoan ruins

Its production and history is traced back some three centuries – some claim it dates back to Minoan and Mycenean times.

Basically it is a strong distilled spirit with about 37 percent alcohol that is made from the must –residue of the wine-press.

It is said the best raki is that which is home-made although we’ve had what we thought tasted quite good (especially by the time we got to the second or third little glass) at local restaurants.

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Our waiter at Defini's in Chora Sfakia Crete joins The Scout in a raki toast, "Yammas"

While researching the beverage,I came across an article that says, “A few glasses of raki can make your head very clear, an effect which to my opinion is unique to it.  After you get to sleep it may happen you have special ‘raki dreams’ which can be more vivid than life; it feels like you are awake and very special things happen to you.”

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"Happy Hour" in Astros, a city in the Peloponnese

So far in this trip we’ve refrained from those tiny little glasses of liquid happiness. . .we will drink it when we get to Crete next week.  But I can assure you that we’ve consumed more than our fair share of Greek wine. . .wine like that shown above. It is table wine, sold in the half liter (above) and liter.  This indulgence cost us 2 to 3 euros, about $3 to $4US. It is some of the best wine to be had – Greeks have perfected ‘Happy Hour’. . .they just don’t call it that.

So until our next post, a toast to you - thanks for taking time to be with us today: “Yammas!”

We hope to link up today with Foodie Tuesday at Inside Journeys. Drop by there for other food and drink posts.


  1. Hello Jackie and Joel:

    For some unaccountable reason we have never tasted of such 'liquid happiness' and so have been denied 'raki dreams'!! Here in Hungary we have something quite similar, pálinka, which is also an acquired taste. As with raki, the homemade is considered far superior.

    1. Oh Jane and Lance, another reason to come to Hungary. . .palinka! I have to admit each time we have raki it takes a few sips to overcome the shock to the system it provides as it moves into the happiness phase.

  2. Yammas dear Jackie and Joel.

    I like the benefit of a raki dream. I have not tasted tsipouro but it certainly sounds like one should when in Crete.
    Enjoy your trip and looking forward to reading more

    1. Yammas to you as well Helen! Thanks for stopping by today - always brings a smile to my face (even without raki's help) to see you among the friends who have visited.

  3. Yasu Jackie & Joel,
    Enjoy the Easter festivities in Crete with out us. We shall raise a glass in celebration, whilst beginning to pack our cases! Yammas!!

    1. Oh Val we have already been telling folks here how much fun we had with you last year. We will raise a glass to the both of you as well! (Next year. . .as we say in the States).

  4. Ah, yes, the REM of raki!! You two sound like real locals, and maybe you will do us the honour of actually becoming one, soon! I, myself, have not been able to take a liking to it, preferring those luscious loukoumades, instead!

    Have fun in my neighbourhood!


    1. Oh Poppy, I've never heard of loukoumades. . .I shall set out to try one as soon as I reach Crete! You may have opened the door to a new vice.

  5. I've never heard of Raki before but it sounds interesting, Jackie. A few glasses can make your head clear, huh? My kind of drink! Enjoy a glass for me. Yammas!!
    Thanks for linking up this week, Jackie.

    1. Afraid I've been a bit hit and miss with blogs and linkups while in Greece but I sure enjoy Foodie Tuesday (when I remember it is Tuesday!)

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  7. Is raki like ouzo? I tried ouzo once and didn't much care of it as liquid anise isn't my thing. Those Raki dreams sound very interesting though. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your travels in Greece. My teen is lobbying for Greece as a potential summer holiday spot, although it's mainly because he wants to learn a Greek accent, not because of anything he wants to see.

  8. Hi Michele, No raki isn't like ouzo as I am with you: I don't like liquid anise either. We did have a pasta and shrimp dish the other night that had been flavored with ouzo and such a small amount that it really was delicious. Raki is more like, hmm, straight vodka maybe. . .burns your throat while clearing your head! ;-)

  9. Hi Jackie...Joel's head doesn't look too clear in that photo! :) Did he manage to drink the owner under the table. I think I've tasted this once, and if I remember correctly, I would say it's definitely and acquired taste!


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