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In a Raki (Rakı) Reverie?
Can you identify this
Raki (Rakı) lover Fatma Girik -- Turkish Actress
famous Raki Lover?
Click for Enlargement!
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Turkish Food, Turkish Drink

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In praise of Rakı (Raki)
a Turkish drink tradition

Raki enthusiast Habibullah speaks in praise of Turkish drink

Rakı Revelations
The Concise Story of Turkish Raki
Turkish Alcohol Drink of Cultural Choice

this page is not suitable for those in alcohol and drug rehab programs.
We recognize that alcohol intervention is serious business...
requiring effective alcohol treatments,
often in special alcohol treatment centers.
For more alcoholism information please visit
the Research Society on Alcoholism at:
or Alcoholics Anonymous at:
In Turkey - Türkiye'de

Tüm içecek fırsatları için tıklayın !

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Raki in Review
  • Milky Rakı after adding water
  • Tekerdağ Raki Brand (half bottle)
  • Yeni Rakı Brand (full bottle)
Rakı - Turkish Alcohol Drink
Thanks to Haydar Ergülen (SAK)

What is Rakı (Raki)?

It's said that you never forget where, when, and with whom you sipped your first glass of yeni rakı [raki yeni] -- Turkey's alcohol drink of tradition and choice. Its anise aroma and flavor are reminiscent of French cafes along the Champs Élysées where Pernod, Ricard and Pastis still flow -- but its history is a good deal older. The Turkish name for raki derives from the Arabic 'arak' which means 'sweat' or 'sweating'. But according to knowledgeable sources, it first came from East India where they'd produce it by distilling sugarcane sap mixed with rice yeast. The same sources say that dried grapes and dates were used to produce raki in Iran. In Turkey, it was originally made from barley and corn. There, the name evolved over time from 'arak' to aroka, ariki, araki, arakı, and irakı -- until it was finally shortened to rakı.

Rakı etiquette

For 'true' raki drinkers (male or female), there is something ritualistic in the way they take their drink (which may be found in restaurants, bars, and cafes -- not to mention markets -- throughout Turkey at almost any hour of the day or night). Firstly, yeni raki [raki yeni] should be cooled in its bottle to 8-10 degrees centigrade before it's served. And it must always be 'sipped' from a straight cylindrical drinking glass (about 120 ml high and 55 ml wide) -- never 'knocked back' from a shot glass. But, it doesn't have to be taken sek (neat) at all. According to preference, it may be taken with mineral or soda water added (or on the side) -- with or without ice. And when mixed with any of these, the normally pure clear rakı turns milky white in color (see photo above). Warning ... Once a 'true' rakı drinker has established the preferred formulaic way he takes his poison, don't ask him to change it. You may as well ask him to change the way he writes his signature -- as many a chastened apprentice waiter has learned!

What goes with Rakı, and when?

To soften the effect of this strong Turkish libation, it is most often consumed (between main meals) together with cold Turkish 'mezeler' such as: Russian salad, tarator, tomato 'söğüüs' salad, tongue, sigara böreği , cacık, sheep's brain, shrimp, mussels, pilaki, etc. And, it goes extremely well with fruits -- perhaps the best known of all rakı 'mezeler' combines fresh melon and Turkish white cheese. During full main meals, raki is most often drunk when the main course is fish.

How is Raki produced in Turkey today?

These days, rakı is produced from fresh summer grapes or from rich, well preserved dried grapes -- to which is added, at just the right time, the distinctive anise flavoring. The grapes are fed through an automatic chopping machine where they are diced, mashed, and shredded -- and mixed with water. The resulting pulp and sugar water mixture, called 'mayse', is sterilized with steam -- after which it passes to the fermentation process. Soon thereafter the anise flavoring is added and the mixture is heated again, and then cooled -- which launches a very slow distillation process. The first 35 hours of distilled product goes unused -- yeni rakı [raki yeni] is obtained only from product distilled between 35 and 40 hours (when the raki, at that stage, is between 78 and 80 percent alcohol). Later, during a process called 'sondurme', water is added to reduce the alcohol proportion. Still later during 'sondurme', sugar is added -- 4 to 6 grams per liter, depending on the taste of the rakı one wishes to produce. The end product, which is between 45 and 50 percent alcohol, is allowed to rest in oaken barrels for 60-75 days. It is then bottled and sent to market.

Based on our Rakı article in
World Food -- Turkey
Lonely Planet
ISBN 1-86450-027-1

Those requiring additional facts about alcoholism, alcoholic treatments, and alcohol recovery programs please visit the Research Society on Alcoholism or
Alcoholics Anonymous websites at the addresses provided above...
In Turkey - Türkiye'de

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Posted by John Guise | October 19, 2011
Manisa Turkish

When I first came to Turkey in 1979, we set up our initial factory in Izmir's Mersinli mahallesi before moving to a green site in Manisa. I knew zilch Turkish at that time, but our local boys took me to the meyhane (a Turkish café or bar serving wine, rakı, and meze) and instilled into me that I must always ask for a kadeh of rakı, not a bardak and, in that way, I would be considered as a true Turk. So I learned the word otuzbeşlik (a standard .35 cl serving of rakı) and aslan sütü and dudak payı ('lip-share' - an amount of liquid in a glass, almost filled to the brim). So, I was kadehfied at my first curve of Turkish learning... by various Turkish workmen, welders, fitters and such.

In the old set-up on my website I had a bit about Rakı which included the little poem Abbas, only because it appealed to me! I have produced a little private HTML page about the poem Abbas and the story behind it. I send it for your perusal as, well, I just found it quite an interesting little story (true or not!).

Reply posted by Jim and Peri | October 20, 2011
Learning Practical Turkish

We're extremely grateful for the lively and entertaining addition you've made to our Rakı page, John (see John's full contribution just below our reply). It's bound to strum a nostalgiac chord on the hearts of all but the most insensitive of Rakı-lovers.

Wait a sec...
'Insensitive Rakı-lovers'?
Isn't that an oxymoron?

Anyway... Many thanks, old friend...

John Guise's contribution starts here...

Abbas - a poem by Cahit Sitki Taranci
nostalgia with a little rakı on the side

Haydi Abbas, vakit tamam;
Akşam diyordun işte oldu akşam.
Kur bakalım çilingir soframızı;
Dinsin artık bu kalp ağrısı.
Şu ağacın gölgesinde olsun;
Tam kenarında havuzun.
Aya haber sal çıksın bu gece;
Görünsün şöyle gönlümce.
Bas kırbacı sihirli seccadeye,
Göster hükmettiğini mesafeye
Ve zamana.
Katıp tozu dumana,
Var git,
Böyle ferman etti Cahit,
Al getir ilk sevgiliyi Beşiktaş'tan;
Yasamak istiyorum gençliğimi yeni baştan.

Cahit Sitki Taranci
Cahit Sitki Taranci - (1910 - 1956)

Abbas -- The story behind the poem...

Cahit Sitki askerliğini yedek subay olarak yapmak üzere birliğine gider. O yillarda yedek subay sayısı az olduğundan her yedek subaya emir eri verilmektedir. Birliğine gittiğinde bölük yazıcısından künye defterini ister. Sırayla isimlere bakmaktadır, bir isim dikkatini çeker. Abbasi oglu Abbasi. Sakat çolak eli yüzünden çürüge ayrılmış biridir Abbasi. Talim bitiminde askerin yanına gönderilmesini ister. Ögle saatlerinde kepi çalınır. Karşısında civan mert yiğit biri selam çakıp;

- Abbas oglu Abbasi Emret komutanım!. - der.
Aralarında söyle bir konusma geçer:
- Nerelisin?
- Memleket Mardin, kaza Midyat komutanım
- Sen benim emir erim olur musun?
- Sen bilirsin komutanım!.

Askere esyalarını toplamasını söyler ve kendi evinin altındaki boş yere taşınmasını ister. Zamanla askerin zekiliği ve sıcakkanlılığından etkilenir. Abbas her sabah erkenden kalkar Cahit Sitki'ya kahvaltı hazırlar. Ögle yemeğini sormadan hazırlar. Tüm ihtiyaçlarını karşıdan bir istek gelmeden düşünüp yerine getirir. Erkenden kalkıp Cahit Sitki'nin kiyafetlerini ütüler hazılar ve evin temizliğini yapar. Aksamları Cahit Sitki'nin sevdiği yemek ve mezeleri hazırlar. Zamanla aralarında komutan asker ilişkisinden daha güçlü bir dostluk baği olusur. Bu saf ve temiz Anadolu çocuğundaki sadakat ve temiz yürekten etkilenmiştir Cahit Sitki. Zaman zaman karşısına alıp dertleşir ve bu Anadolu çocuğunun ruhundaki gizli şeyleri keşfeder.

Aksamları rakı sofrası kurup en güzel kızartma ve mezeleri hazırlar Abbas. Aralarındaki duygu bağları güçlenir. Böyle bir keyif gecesinde alkollü Cahit Sitki sorar;
- Sen Istanbul'u bilir misin Abbas?
- Bilirim komutanım.
- Orda bir Beşiktaş var bilir misin?
- Bilirim komutanım!. Ben orda acemi birlikteydim. .
- Orda benim bir sevgilim var.
- Sen bana kaçırıp onu getirir misin?
- Elbet komutanım!

Sabah olur Cahit Sitki bakar ki Abbas yeni asker kiyafetleri giymiş traş olmuş hazırlanmış gidiyor.
Cahit Sitki sorar;
-Hayırdır Abbas neden böyle hazırlık yaptın?
-Ben Istanbul'a gidecektim komutanım!.
-Ne yapacaksın sen Istanbul'da?
-Sen söyledin bana. Ben gidip sana sevgilini getirecegim!

Gözlerindeki hüznü ve gözyaşlarını gizlemek istercesine arkasını dönüp kapıyı çarpar ve çıkıp gider Cahit Sitki.
Fakat bu mert askerin, yüreği sevgi dolu Anadolu çocuğunun samimiyet ve sıcaklığından çok duygulanır. Abbas'i göndermez elbet.

Aksam olur.
Agaç altında rakı sofrası kurdurur ve Abbas'i karşısına oturtur.
Birlikte yer içerler ve Cahit Sitki o meshur siirini kağıda döker...

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