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The History of Raki

The raki is special to the geography of Turkey and also traditional drink.

It has not been identified who produced the raki, when it was firtsly produced , where it was produced. But it was accepted by almost all the countriesthat the raki has been produced in Ottaman at the first time.

It has been determined that there was a drink like raki in east-roman empire in 5. Century. It was learned by the Turks in 11. Century and it was brought to Anatolia and Rumelia by people being mostly Bektashi.

The story of raki in Anatolia based on the previos history of 300 years so that it is the word that the Greeks took it from Ottoman during under domination and it comes from Turkish. In fact, it has been shown that the inventor of the traditional drink Uzo of Greeks in Greek encyclopedia is an Ottoman doctor named Kirios Stavrakis. The spirit most known and even the only one in Constantinople is the kind of variable wine. In the source of Constantinople , it is stated that the wine and bread are the main two factors of nutrition. It is known that the wine was seen in the breakfast in monastries , the monks had got daily rights for wine and it was kind of punishment or was a part of fasting kept on special days .

In company with the viticulture and vinification in Constantinople being especially common around monastries and the wine being the needs of the city came from the islands – ‘Tasoz , Girit and Sakız’ with the great amounts. Some of the monastries in Heybeliada and Büyükada was famous with their special wines. The food service with wine was made in the stores of Kapelos known as ‘ Orgasterion’ selling wine at retail in the city. Other than these, the Turkish watering hole named as ‘leskhe’ within caransary and even rather the sections operated by the way of tavern.

It is known that the wine was the major kind of drink in the palace Byzantie and is prepared in similar way with vermothes with scented plants. On the other hand, the fruit wines fermentated with fruits such as apricot, plum, persimmon, fig. During the days when the Ottoman army laid siege to Istanbul , botth Turkish watering holes was established at the end of rampart to increase the couring of soldiers and to keep fit Byzantie soldiers. More over, during the investment, the boats of genoese carried wine fro Greek island to Istanbul. Briefly, Istanbul was famous with its Turkish watering holes in the region of Galata even under Byzantie.

It is seen in various sources that Turkish watering holes were in Istanbul since the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmet and they inherited from the reign of Byzantie. Some of these sources write that those were famous with Istanbul’s Turkish watering holes at that period. When the drink was said during the region of Ottoman, the first thing came to mind was wine but the raki started to override slowly.

According to the travel book of ‘Evliya Çelebi’, ‘ The craft arakçıyan’ was said for the manufacturers and those produced products such as raki with banana, pomegranate and mostard . The raki derived from ‘Araki’ meaning sweaty also according to an idea. Some of them has brought forward that the drink with aniseed made of grape ‘ Razaki’ being large, long grained and thick crusted has been eventually named as ‘Raki’ (raki) due to ‘Razaki’ .

Even if it was forbidden from time to time, slowly easing forbiddens and outbreaking toleration have increased the production and consumption of raki and of other spirits with the beginning of the reformation age after 1826 and 1839 and the declaration of constitutional monarchy.

At the second half of 19. Century, namely with the reforms, great changes started to be existed with communal living’s social aspect. Sarıcazade Ragıp Pasha who was Sultan Abdulhamid’s head chamberlain and one of chancellorof the exchequer found Umurca Farm on the road of Tekirdağ in the 1880’s and then found the factory of Umurca raki at that farm.

The raki was the spirit that non-moslem community was drinking fondly it and even if being propreitors was forbidden for moslems , it was drunk in tavern and Turkish watering holes which non-moslems had it.

It is hard to reach the definite information about technique of production of rakiswith aniseed produced in ancient times. Even the qualities of plants of production has not cleary been known as the technic informations.

The purchasing and selling and drinking of every kinds spirits were forbidden throughout six years between 1920-1926.

As part of industrialization and modern economic regulations , the production of raki produced extremelly objectionable and emptily in terms of health in the past was taken in the sole trade of state with the law no. 790 law entering into force in 01.06.1926 and it was standardized with use of industrial opportunities. The raki gained today’s features by this means. The factory of raki in Gaziantep was found in 1930, Inhisarlar, namely the sole trade, was found after a year and the factories of Diyarbakır, Nevşehir and Tekirdağ followed that factory.

The sole trade Müskirat found the production facility firstly in Mersin and then in Adana to production of this spirit with appropriate conditions. The sales stopped with consumption of Inhisar rakis by citizens and other small manipulations were closed in 1935.

The production of raki has been done by the sole trade of the state since 1944.

The production of raki by the private sector has started in 2004 again.

Today the raki is exported to many country especially to Chinese, Germany, USA. The consumption of the raki in Turkey for centuries provided that the raki with its nature became an identical culture with the geography of Turkey.

It is stated that the raki is Turkish spirits in almost all reference broadcasts. The raki has been conveyed to todays characteristic features with palatal delight of people living in Ottoman and laterly in Turkey and its production has been standartalised. Today’s features of raki are not in other drinks in the world. The greek spirit- Ouzo, the Middle East spirit-Arak and Balcanic spirit- Rakiya are quite different spirits. The condition of using alcohol does not exist in the condition of production of Uzo. Its Aniseed can be star aniseed of pimpinella aniseed. Aromatic features of those aniseeds are different from eachother. Any restriction has not occured by the means of the plants and seeds that can be used in Uzo.

Balcanic raki is a spirit that it is heavy odoured , not include aniseed, distillated with low purity, include various fruits. There is not relationship with the raki except its name similar to it phonetically. Moreover it does not known in the global marketing. Even if the Greek spirits Tsipouro is similar to the raki by means of used of grape in the production, it does not include aniseed so it is not similar to the raki with its this feature.


L’arak, cet inconnu... The Author: Patrick Monsarrat

Adabıyla Raki ve Çilingir Sofrası The Author: Vefa Zat 1994

Alkol ve İnsan... The Author: Dr Erdal Atabek 1982

Raki Sohbetleri... The Author: Sav Ergun 1994

Dengeli Demlenme ve Raki Mezeleri... The Author: İlhan Eksen 2000



The various kind of Jack Deleo’s Works