To be honest I never gave Rakı any attention.
For me, it just used to be those dust-covered bottles somewhere on the shelf of every Kebap place.
Of course, I tried it out of curiosity...
Once. Neat. No ice. No water.
Like ''pros'' are supposed to experience unknown spirits.
Needless to say, that is turned out to be ''one of the less enjoyable tasting experiences''.
Just a single dominant dimension of pure anise, rough and persistent on the palate.
''Not very suitable as a base spirit for cocktails'', I judged back then prematurely.
When you need anise aroma as a bartender you usually tend to use dashes different spirits or, if you really want to go cray crafty could even throw a star anise pod somewhere in the mix.
And so I went on, again not giving Rakı any attention.
Then one day my life got significantly enriched by this staggering, beautiful girl: Burçin ''bOo'' Bektaş.
Cheerful. Warm. Proud. Also stubborn.
But indeed Turkish!
Then one other day she shouted straight into my face with sincere excitement: ''I promote Yeni Rakı now! Come to my Master Class!'' or something like that. I don't know.
Little did I know how much she would change my point of view, not only on this spirit, but also on many other matters with this invitation.
She not only taught us the history, production, different qualities and cultural importance of Rakı, but also how it should be enjoyed.
And of course, I tried it again out of curiosity...
Multiple times. Authentic. With ice. With water.
Like ''pros'' are supposed to experience this spirit.
Needless to say that it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable tasting experiences.
When I finally started to understand this spirit, it suddenly appeared fairly familiar:
Rakı. Cheerful. Warm. Proud. Also stubborn.
But indeed Turkish.
Hold on for a sec...
Then this sudden realization dawned on me.
This adorable cute sunshine of a girl was indeed the embodiment of Rakı!
I had no choice but to translate this mindblowing spirit into a cocktail recipe.
For the foundation, I selected Yeni Rakı Ustaların Karışımı, a barrel-aged blend of three different Rakıs with multiple layers of grape, raisin, and anise.
In my opinion, the perfect version to represent her: original and complex, yet harmonious and elegant.
First I tamed it with homemade bourbon vanilla syrup, to emphasize the woody barrel notes and because for jewelry she only wears what she deserves: Gold.
Remember ''Indeed Turkish''?
To balance out this sweetness I countered it with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Because not only this drink keeps things fresh and zesty around here.
Fortunately, I remembered that the prestigious German Privatkelterei Van Nahmen produces a juice made out of ''Konstantinopeler Apfelquitte'', a variety of quince named after Constantinople.
Something German grown with Turkish connection roots?
How perfectly convenient!
Then after shaking and straining, it is topped with a splash of ginger beer for fizz and spice to represent her liveliness and temperament.
And last but not least a couple of dashes of peach bitters.
When she smiles, her cheeks look like little peaches, lol!
But more importantly, because it rounds of taste and builds an aromatic bridge between every single ingredient.
A bridge? A bridge... A bridge!
Like the Bosphorus Bridge connects Europe and Asia, bOo managed to connect me to Turkish culture through her identity, her passion, and her dedication.
That is why as a garnish I cut an apple slice, something German, covered it in floral honey, something both German and Turkish, caramelized it and sprinkled sumac, something Turkish, on top of it, uniting contrasts of flavor and cultures together in harmony, to create something new that makes totally sense.
I wish this cocktail to be a symbol of how I perceive her personality and her accomplishments.
This is my love letter to Rakı...
And to her...
PAT BARTENBartender from Hamburg
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