The History of Rakija (& Its Surprising Health Benefits)

In the world of alcoholic beverages, there are a few that hold a special place in the hearts and glasses of their enthusiasts.

Rakija, a potent fruit brandy originating from the Balkans, is one such spirit that has captivated drinkers for centuries.

But there’s more to rakija than just its smooth taste and cultural significance.

Behind its rich history lies a fascinating tale of tradition, craftsmanship, and even surprising health benefits.

In this article, we explore the captivating history of rakija (a drink I’m sure you will encounter whilst in Skopje) and uncover the unexpected ways it can contribute to our well-being.

From its ancient origins to its revered place in Balkan culture, we’ll unveil the secrets behind this cherished spirit and shed light on the health advantages it may offer.

Whether you’re a connoisseur or simply curious about the world of spirits, the story of Rakija is bound to pique your interest.

3 Rakija shot glasses on a wooden table.

The History of Rakija

You might think that rakija is just a drink that people in the Balkans enjoy, but it has a long and fascinating history.

The origins of rakija can be traced back to ancient times, when people started distilling alcohol from fermented fruits.

In fact, rakija is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world!

Over the centuries, rakija has been enjoyed by people from all walks of life.

It was a popular drink among the nobility in medieval Europe, and it was even used for medicinal purposes.

In the Balkans, rakija has been an important part of cultural and social life for centuries.

The word “rakija” comes from the Arabic word “araki,” which means “sweat” or “sweaty.”

This is because the first distillers of rakija used to sweat over the stills as they distilled the alcohol.

In the Balkans, rakija is often made at home, and it’s a point of pride for many families.

Each family has their own recipe and their own way of making it.

Today, rakija is enjoyed all over the world.

It’s not just a drink for the Balkans anymore – people from all over appreciate its unique taste and the sense of tradition and history that comes with it.

So the next time you take a sip of rakija, remember that you’re not just drinking a beverage – you’re experiencing a piece of history!

The (Many) Health Benefits of Rakija

Rakija is known for its strong and unique flavor.

But did you know that rakija also has several health benefits?

Here are some of the ways that rakija can be good for you:

Digestive Health

Rakija is believed to have digestive properties that can help with stomach problems and indigestion.

This is because it contains natural enzymes that can aid in digestion.

Additionally, rakija is often consumed after a meal as a digestif, which can help to settle the stomach and aid in digestion.

Cardiovascular Health

Moderate consumption of rakija has been shown to have cardiovascular benefits.

Rakija contains antioxidants that can help to fight against free radicals, which can contribute to heart disease.

Additionally, rakija can help to prevent the formation of cholesterol deposits in your cardiovascular system, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Immune System Boost

Rakija is also rich in antioxidants, which can help to boost your immune system.

Antioxidants help to protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals, which can weaken your immune system.

By drinking rakija – in moderation – you can help to strengthen your immune system and protect your body from illness.

Stress Relief

Rakija has a direct effect on the nervous system, making it a natural stress reliever.

When you drink rakija, it can help to calm your nerves and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

This is because rakija contains compounds that can help to relax your muscles and promote feelings of relaxation.

How to Make Rakija

https://youtu.be/w0irzi1qByI

So, you want to learn how to make rakija?

Well, making rakija is a time-honored tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation in the Balkans.

While the process may seem daunting at first, with a little bit of patience and know-how, you can make your own delicious rakija at home.

First things first, you’ll need to gather your ingredients.

The most common fruit used to make rakija is plums, but you can also use grapes, pears, or any other fruit that strikes your fancy.

You’ll need about 44 pounds of fruit, which should yield around 5-6 liters of rakija.

Next, you’ll need to wash and pit the fruit.

Once the fruit is prepped, it’s time to start the fermentation process.

This is where the magic happens! You’ll need to mix the fruit with water and sugar, and then let it sit for a few days to allow the natural yeasts to start fermenting the sugars.

After a few days, it’s time to move on to the distillation process.

You’ll need a still, which can be purchased online or at specialty stores.

The still works by heating the fermented fruit mixture and separating the alcohol from the water and other impurities.

This process can take several hours, so be patient!

Once the distillation process is complete, you’ll be left with a clear, potent liquid that is your homemade rakija.

Congratulations, you’ve done it! Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy your delicious creation.

Remember, making rakija is a labor of love that requires patience and attention to detail.

But the end result is well worth the effort. So, go ahead and give it a try! Who knows, you might just become the next rakija-making master.

5 Rakija Cocktails Ideas

You may be thinking that rakija is best enjoyed as a shot, but did you know that it can also be used to make delicious cocktails?

Here are some of the best rakija cocktails that you can try:

1. Rakija Sour

If you love whiskey sours, then you’ll definitely enjoy a rakija sour. This cocktail is made with rakija, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white. The egg white gives the cocktail a frothy texture and a silky mouthfeel.

2. Rakija Collins

A rakija collins is a refreshing cocktail that’s perfect for a hot summer day. It’s made with rakija, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water. You can also add some fresh mint leaves for an extra burst of flavor.

3. Rakija Old Fashioned

If you’re a fan of classic cocktails, then you’ll love a rakija old fashioned. This cocktail is made with rakija, sugar, bitters, and a slice of orange. It’s a simple yet sophisticated cocktail that’s perfect for sipping on a cozy night in.

4. Rakija Mojito

A rakija mojito is a twist on the classic mojito. It’s made with rakija, lime juice, simple syrup, soda water, and fresh mint leaves. The rakija gives the cocktail a unique flavor that pairs perfectly with the refreshing mint and lime.

5. Rakija Margarita

If you’re a fan of margaritas, then you’ll love a rakija margarita. This cocktail is made with rakija, lime juice, triple sec, and a salt rim. It’s a delicious and easy-to-make cocktail that’s perfect for any occasion.

As you can see, there are many ways to enjoy rakija besides taking shots.

These cocktails are a great way to experiment with different flavors and find your new favorite drink.

So, next time you’re in the mood for a cocktail, give one of these rakija cocktails a try!

Some Funny Rakija Questions (& Answers) Seen Online

Two older Balkan gentleman clearly drunk drinking Rakija in a park.

Can rakija cure a broken heart?

Unfortunately, no.

While rakija may help you forget about your broken heart for a little while, it won’t actually cure it.

The only cure for a broken heart is time and self-care.

So, go ahead and have a shot of rakija to ease the pain, but don’t rely on it as a permanent solution.

Will rakija make me live forever?

As much as we all wish we could live forever, the answer is no.

While moderate consumption of rakija may have some health benefits, it won’t make you immortal.

Can rakija give me superpowers?

As much as we’d all love to have superpowers, the answer is no.

While rakija may make you feel invincible for a little while, it won’t actually give you any superpowers.

So, go ahead and have a shot of rakija to feel like a superhero for a little while, but don’t expect to be able to fly or shoot lasers out of your eyes.

Can rakija make me smarter?

While rakija may make you feel smarter for a little while, it won’t actually make you smarter in the long run.

The only way to improve your intelligence is through education and learning.

Have a shot of rakija to feel like a genius for a little while, but don’t expect it to improve your IQ.

Can drinking rakija help me win the lottery?

As much as we’d all love to win the lottery, the answer is no.

While rakija may make you feel lucky for a little while, it won’t actually increase your chances of winning the lottery.


This guide was first published on July 7, 2023 and was last updated on February 3, 2024. For more information, please contact us at contact@skopjeguide.com.