Raki is a name for a family of distilled alcoholic liqueurs made mainly in mediterranean countries. Raki is the national drink of Turkey, where it is usually made with figs, grapes, or plums.

In Greece, gum may be added to produce Mastika. Raki is ususally made with Aniseed, and so is similar to the Greek Ouzo and the French Pastis.
Common in Turkey, especially under the Yeni* label, raki is a clear, highly alcoholic (about 90-100 proof) beverage most notable for its aniseed flavoring that lends it a taste like that of licorice. It is not sweet in the manner of Jaegermeister, nor is it quite like ouzo, but the general flavorings are somewhat similar. The pronunciation is not quite as an English speaker would think--the I is actually undotted, which in Turkish indicates somewhat more of an "eh" sound.

Raki is generally prized by the Turkish as something unique to their nation (though it isn't quite), and it may be pushed upon you in shot form free of charge in a restaurant if you gain the favor of the waiters (or so is my experience). Standard methods of consumption usually include shots, which may be room temperature or chilled (I imagine warm would be pleasant, though I haven't tried it this way), or in a mixture with water and ice.

That probably sounds silly, but don't worry--no one will call you a pansy. It's simply an altogether different drink when mixed with water. In fact, it doesn't even look the same: otherwise totally clear, when mixed with water (or to some degree with ice), raki turns cloudy, slightly clearer than the coloration of milk. In this form the sweetness of the anise is more noticable, and it is rather pleasant even to those unaccustomed to hard liquor (though for those who don't like a little kick, it is better served with plenty of ice, even then). A little raki can go a long way, if there's ice water about, but it will still knock you on your ass before you know it. So, you know, uh, drink responsibly. Or don't!

* (Yeni actually means "new", in Turkish--what the hell kind of a brand name is "new"? And no, that's not just part of the packaging!)

Ra`ki", Ra`kee" (?), n. [Turk. rAkIarrack.]

A kind of ardent spirits used in southern Europe and the East, distilled from grape juice, grain, etc.

 

© Webster 1913

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