The national drink of Serbia is rakija (brandy), which is distilled from fruits, the most common being the plum. The drink is popular throughout the Balkans. The name probably came from the Turks, whose anis-flavored “raki” is their national drink. I think the Serbs were probably fermenting and distilling plums before the Turks arrived in the late 1300’s, but they did give the name to the drink.

Serbia is the number one consumer and exporter of Rakija. It is drank at all special occasions like births, weddings, family renunions. It is sipped slowly from a special glass called a čokanjčići. Rakija is also a common apertif. There are many different kinds of rakijas based on different fruits. The Serbs use many of the common fruits of the region like apricots, pears, grapes (similar to the Italian grappa), and even quince.

My personal favorite is medovača. It is a rakija with honey added to soften the harshness of the high alcohol content. It is known as the woman’s drink, but I always order it proudly. I’ve also noticed that the design of the special glass makes it taste better. When I’ve drank medovača from a shot glass or other type of glass, it is not the same. I also like to accompany it with gas water. Medovača is a great way to start a meal or a social evening. I am not that big of a drinker so I like the time consuming rituals of sipping that allows me to drink less than say a large beer or glass of wine.

I would like to know the origin and meaning of the name of the glass, čokanjčići, and if it especially designed to enhance the flavor of the brandy.

I was inspired to write a Japanese-style haiku about medovača:

biting sting
sweet earth, smooth glass
awakening bubbles, friendship

My daughter Ocean a couple of years ago is pictured checking out the fermenting vats of plums (Stari Majdan – Šumadija)