Ancient Greek Firewater: Crete’s Locally Distilled Spirit
Tsikoudia, commonly referred to as “raki” or “Greek firewater” has come to be known as the national spirit of Crete. A distilled liquor made from grape skins and other remnants from the wine making process, Cretan raki, which lacks the anise flavor of the Turkish variant, typically ranges between 40% and 60% alcohol content. The drink is produced throughout the island whether legally by distilleries or by locals doing their part to carry on the tradition. The Cretans are never shy when it comes to offering up the local spirit, expect to have it before dinner, after dinner, from the front desk concierge walking out of your hotel, mid-day from a friendly shopkeeper, at roadside stops and repeatedly throughout the night at local bars. Flavored variations such as honey raki or more herbal varieties are available though they are not any less potent than the original.