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)

Perfect Summer Day

Sunday we had a perfect summer day in the “dog days” of August. The weather has been very hot and so we began the day with a refreshing swim at the Kosutnjak Public Pool. We then drove out to the village of Beli Potok, located on the slopes of Mount Avala, just south of Belgrade. We ate at the Stari Majdan (Old Mine) restaurant. As you can see, they provided plenty of food. The restaurant is in an old quarry and is oddly shaped. The compound has two artificial turf tennis courts as a bonus. We played a set after lunch. The views overlooking Šumadija, the hilly, forested region were spectacular. I recommend a visit, especially if you are visiting Avala.
Stari Majdan Came Through with a Delicious Lunch
On the way home we bought a ripe watermelon (lubenica) and played volleyball with the kids in the back yard. Nothing better than a juicy watermelon on a plastic chair in the middle of the yard on a super hot day. It was the last day of summer holidays so we put the kids to bed a bit earlier than usual. It is soothing to listen to the crickets in the evening from the window of our balcony. Ah, the days of summer…
Ocean notices the plums

Also loved the huge vats of šliva (plums) they had on display at the restaurant. The plums are used to make the Serbian national drink, šlivavica, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from plums. Distilled beverages from a variety of fruits are very popular in the Balkans and are called rakijas in general. My favorites are the rakijas flavored with honey and walnuts. I wonder how many bottles they can get from one of these vats.