The author with a glass of Yeni Raki at Lake Egirdir

The author with a glass of Yeni Raki at Lake Egirdir

One would expect to find Turkey relatively devoid of alcohol, it being an Islamic country. But it is not. Lots of people drink here. I knew Islamic fundamentalists 30 years ago in Turkey and they all drank. I am not sure how they justify it as it is against Islam, but many certainly do.

They make a wonderful version of the anise based drink common in the Mediterranean region, raki. Their beer is excellent (Efes), and we had a bottle of quite good wine, Angora.

It seems that most Mediterranean countries have some form of a drink like raki, an anise flavored hard liquor, normally considered a digestive. France has pastis, Italy sambuca, Greece ouzo, Lebanon has

Efes pilsen

Efes pilsen

raki, too. And I am sure there are others. Sambuca is the only one that is sweet and it can be like syrup. Of the others, my favorites are pastis and Turkish raki.

One drinks raki with water, with or without ice. It is a clear liquid that turns white when mixed with water or ice cubes, sort of like the louche that forms when water is mixed with absinthe. Some absinthe has raki like anise overtones, but is usually more complex with a greater number of herbs. Lynn and I drank a lot of raki when in Turkey. Great stuff.

The only beer I ever saw 30 years ago was Efes. Today, there are a couple of Dutch beers brewed in Turkey (Carlsberg and Tuborg), but we stuck to good old Efes pilsen. It is an excellent beer, far superior to the mainstream beer in the United States (of course, sewer water is better than Bud). I get the Turkish made Carlsberg here in Iraq, and it is good. I also tried an Efes dark beer and it was excellent, but seemed to only come in a can.

Angora red wine

Angora red wine

Finally, Turkish wine. I wish I had more to say on Turkish wines, but we went to only one upscale restaurant while in Turkey, in Istanbul, where we had wine. A review is coming on that restaurant. The wine list was underwhelming, to say the least. We wanted a red. The waiter said there was one “not so good” red wine at a lower price and “a better one” at a higher price. We went with the “better one.” The price was not high, in any case.

And it was indeed quite a nice wine. We had a 2009 vintage. This reminds me of some great finds I’ve made of inexpensive, yet good wines. And this is not an expensive wine. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carignan, and Alicante. I had never heard of Carignan or Alicante, but I never claimed to be a wine expert and I don’t play one on TV. All grown in the Aegean area of Turkey. This one is deep red and has soft and smooth tannins. I would drink this one again anytime.


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