“Extra curricular” activities regarding liquids
Some useful tips, for a first time visitor, about Croatia’s drinking habits.
The first thing i would like to say is that drinking and driving is strictly forbidden in Croatia and not very smart in general.The local police will not act very friendly if they catch you drunk on the road.They are on extra alert in the summer season when the country is packed with tourists and the traffic is crazy.So these tips are to be put to use at the end of the day, when your bikes are left to rest.
Rakija – pride of the nation
Most of the locals are wine and beer people, but a special place in the country’s heart is reserved for Rakija.
Just to let you get what i’m talking about, let’s say it is a drink similar to German Snaps or Turkish Raki.
Rakija is a strong, drink made from herbs or fermented fruit, such as plum, pear and grape.The saying goes:”If it didn’t have the smell, it would be the best drink on the planet”
Actually if it is made properly it has rather a nice sense.
A storytelling family event
The proces of making rakija, or as we call it “roasting rakija”, is a family annual event of special importance.
In my family the grandfather was the master of the roast.He started early in the morning and lasted through to the lunch time when he would pass out by the table after a meal.
That is not so unusual if you are aware that a real master has to try out every single pich of hot rakija that comes out of the boiler.
At that point my grandmother’s role comes to play.She would carry him from the table to the couch ,wash the dishes and position herself in the backyard by the rakija boiler,where she would spend the rest of the day roasting rakija.So our family rakija was just called “grandpa’s rakija” but it was actually grandma’s stuff.And it was damn good!
Different kinds and tastes
Depending on the region of the country rakija comes in many forms and has different uses.In the continental parts it is mainly made out of plums and used for central body heating ,washing teeth and growing hair, while in the coastal area, where wine is the favorite local product, it is made of grapes or herbs and used for healing rheumatic pains by massage or to make a softer drink.Those softer drinks are made by adding sugar or honey and all kinds of fruits to rakija.That is for girls.
On the serious side rakija is a great aperitiv and studies say that, because of the making process, it is healthier than other drinks are.Of course if consumed in normal quantities.
Try it, but don’t loose your head
If you want to have a rakija shot at a bar, these are the local words you have to be familiar with ,in the versions that are easier to pronounce :
– Plum – Shlivovitsa
– Herb – Travaritsa
– Grape – Loza
– Misteltoe – Biska
– Pear – Viliamovka
– Carob – Rogach
– Bluebery – Borovnichka
– Honey – Meditsa
– Cherry – Vishnia
– Raspberry – Malinovats
Beer – which one is better?
This one is an immortal question and one of the favourite bar quarrels in Croatia.
As in most of the countries beer is Croatian’s most popular drink.
The largest local breweries are Zagrebačka Pivovara, with Ožujsko beer and Karlovačka Pivovara, with Karlovačko beer.These are both lager beers and you can get them everywhere you go.
In most of the bars there is a vast range of lagers of this kind to order such as Pan, Staropramen, Laško or foreign beers like Becks, Heiniken and Budweiser.
If you want to try a more peculiar brand you have to know what to look for depending on your whereabouts.
So here is a list of smaller Croatian breweries and their beer products i would personally recommend:
Pivnica Medvedgrad – The finest small brewery in Croatia with products distributed all over the country.
Istria and Dalmatia:
Bujska Pivovara – San Servolo premium red beer – refreshing red beer
San Servolo dark beer – stronger dark beer for the colder days
Inside of Croatia ( Lika ):
Pivovara Ličanka – Velebitsko light beer
Velebitsko Dark beer
Kasačko beer – a combination of light and dark
Continental Croatia – Slavonija:
Osječka Pivovara – Osječko Radler – Dark radler beer with lemon, 2.5% alc.
Daruvarska pivovara – Staročeško crveno – refreshing red beer
Staročeško Zimsko – Strong creamie winter beer 6.2% alc.
Wine making is widespread all over the country.Same as with beer, it is categorized by its place of birth.The kinds of wine produced in a specific part of the country are changed due to climate conditions and species of grape that grow the best in that areas.
The local bars usually serve lower quality wines in form of two drinks:
Gemišt – white wine mixed with sparkling water
Bambus – red wine mixed with Cola
For those of a finer taste for wines, here is a list of the most famous award winning ones:
South of the country, coastal region and the islands:
Islands of Hvar and Korčula – Grk, Pošip and Dingač
Pelješac peninsula – Plavac Mali
Malvasia, Cabernet Souvignon, Merlot and Teran
Island of Krk – Vrbnička Žlahtina
Chardonay, Traminac, Pinot Gray, Portugizac
Continental Croatia – Slavonija:
Graševina, Rizling, Pinot, Souvignon Blanc, Frankovka
If you happen to come across a wine festival on your travels through Croatia, park the bike for the day and go for it.You won’t be sorry.