The Raki Experience
In this second episode on how the Greek Raki of Tsikoudia is made we will have a closer look at how the Greek people enjoy their National delicacy.
As promised, after our first episode that showed you how Greek Raki is made here comes the second part in our mini-series on the fire water of Crete.
What is the right place and time to enjoy the special spirit of Crete?
When In Crete Do Like The Cretans
Raki or Tsikoudia as Cretans call it to separate the spirit drink they make from the one produced in other parts of Greece or neighboring countries (think Turkey), can be offered from the late morning until the early next morning.
What I mean is not to hastly think that a local person is an alcoholic if he asks you to have a couple of raki shots together at 10 am (unless he
keeps offering many shots, that is). Take this as a good sign since offering Tsikoudia is the strongest and most cherished tradition of welcoming somebody to Crete.
Raki Always Comes With Snacks
Usually, people have a few shots before lunch (especially in a village coffee shop) as an aperitif, together with a small plate which can vary depending on the season. Peanuts, fruits, dry bread with olives, tomato or cheese are the most common snacks offered with a drink.
The great news are that the snacks come free of charge with any jar of Raki that you order. The fact that an average price for a 120ml jar is just 3 – 4 euros which makes Raki a perfect choice for enjoying strong alcohol drinks.
Raki Goes With Sweets
As lunch time comes, you have another good chance to try it. In most of the Cretan taverns the bill comes together with a free Raki drink as well as one – or more, if you have company – plates of sweets that will not show up on your bill.
Raki Does Not Go With Fish
Unlike Ouzo, Raki does not go well with fish. So in case you’re enjoying some fresh fish in Crete I can only recommend to have a dry local whine with it and go for your Raki experience at a later time.
Raki Will Come With Desert
… which could just be when you have finished your meal. Just order Tsikoudia together with a tasty homemade sweet when you ask for the bill. Again, the Raki you will be served will be complimentary. Enjoy.
In The Afternoon
Before or after the siesta hours 15.00 to 17.00), I recommend you choose a coffee shop in a central street so you can enjoy Raki together with the nice view of an abundance of beautiful women passing by. Sometimes even close to your table.
A good example is the coffee shop next to the central post office in Rethymno where every time you order a small jar you will be presented a variety of delicious snacks to go along with it.
As the day ends the Raki experience keeps going. You can have Raki after your dinner coming with your desert, as your main drink at a local Rakadiko – the Greek word for the Spanish bodega – or even in a bar instead of vodka or gin.
Go Where The Locals Go
The only thing you must keep in mind is that in most of the touristy places the offered Raki is of medium or low quality. Stepping away from those spots and gving a little bit deeper into the city of Heraklion will reward you with better options.
Try A Non-Touristy Rakadiko
Here you will find plenty of shops where you can enjoy a good quality spirit, in low cost and, if you’re lucky, the company of a group of beautiful, young women. In their case Raki works for you.
Ya mas! (cheers)
If you get the impression that Raki is consumed mainly before or after food, you are right. The basic alcohol drink accompanying food is beer or wine. However, any rule has exceptions. There are some places where large groups of young people, mainly university students, get together on the weekends and have a feast where they combine tasty food with raki.