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Rakija, the very fabric of Croatian society

Croatian grandmothers over the age of 100 swear by it as the key to a long and healthy life. If you haven't experienced it, you have not visited Croatia.

It is the miracle liquid for every occasion. A glass of rakija (often homemade) is the cure for everything – illness, fever, celebration, mourning, and welcome. Hardly an occasion of any kind goes by in Croatia without a quick shot of rakija to move things along. Grandmothers over the age of 100 swear by it as the key to a long and healthy life, and if you have not partaken on your holiday, you have not visited Croatia.

There is a truism in Croatia, that if it grows, Croats will turn it into rakija or a liqueur of some kind. Herbs, plums, walnuts, rose petal, mistletoe, even olives. The focus is very much on domestic produce, especially Mediterranean herbs and fruits. From the fiery plum rakija of Slavonia to the more elegant sage and Mediterranean herb rakijas of Dalmatia, there is a drink for very occasion.

Your acquaintance with this staple of Croatian life is likely to come as an aperitif before dinner, or perhaps an early morning offering on an organised tour (always accept, no matter what the hour, it is considered rude to refuse).

Sun Gardens Dubrovnik has an excellent selection to get you started on this most important of Croatian journeys. We suggest an introduction before dinner to get you started, with 5 varieties depending on your preferences.

Komovica is a very local rakija, made from grape pomace after all the grape juice has been extracted for the excellent wines of the region.  Šljivovica is the most famous rakija of all, made from plums, while Vilijamovka is a very popular pear alternative. For something special ask the waiter to bring the oak-aged Korlat grappa with immortelle, or the Grappa Marinali 20 Anni.

Many Croats make their own rakija and are invariably proud of their own production. All declare theirs the best in Croatia, while offering it as gifts to visitors. Not all are correct in this assertion. You have been warned...

One thing is certain, however. There are few things which connect your visit to Croatia – its herbs, aromas and relaxed lifestyle – more than a glass of rakija. And one can honestly say that you have not truly enjoyed the magic of Croatian hospitality until you have clinked rakija glasses and said “Živjeli!”

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