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Tsikoudia or Raki: Cretan delight distilled from pomace, potent and pure, enjoyed with traditional appetizers like potatoes and olives.

Tsikoudia or Raki

Tsikoudia is a translucent, strong alcoholic beverage produced and consumed largely in Crete. Each November people throughout the island gather around a boiler or “kazani” as they call it, and engage not only in the distillation pomace, but also produce distillates of wisdom, the famous Cretan mantinades (soulful serenades) following the footsteps of their ancestors.

The word tsikoudia comes from the tsikouda, that is, residues of the wine-making process. In Crete, it is also called raki. What differentiates it from all other distillates is that it is created by the distillation of pure tsikouda, without any other aromatic additives and contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume, ranking it as one of the strongest spirits.

Cretan tsikoudia has a long history. Charred remains of bunches of grapes and grape seeds found in the palace of Phaistos in a jar from Minoan times provide proof that tsikoudia has been produced in Crete for thousands of years.

Tsikoudia is the perfect spirit when drinking with companions and is at its best when matched with traditional Cretan appetizers like potatoes oftes (whole baked in the fireplace or in the oven), olives, raw cabbage, cucumbers, snails and paximadi.

Source: My Little Greek Foodbook

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