As Russia is renowned for its Vodka, so too is Tsikoudia for Crete.
To know Crete, you almost certainly will become acquainted with this fine spirit. This clear spirit is produced from the grape skins left over from wine production.
Tsikoudia (also called raki) is a must in Crete and no one visiting the island can avoid it. It is considered the spirit of life and Cretans claim to owe a lot of their open heart character and joy for life to this magic drink.
It is a natural, strong, clear distilled spirit containing approximately 37% alcohol per volume and is produced from the must-residue of the wine-press when distilling aromatic grapes harvested in mid-August.
As with many gastronomic delicacies, most alcoholic beverages have their roots in poverty and tsikoudia is no exception. Every year after the vines are pruned, the vineyard provides wood for the fireplace, grape leaves for cooking, grapes as a fruit or pastry and, of course, wine. Some of the grape must is used to make molasses (“petimezi”), which when combined with flour become must-jelly, must-rolls as well as other well-known Greek pastries. When must is made from grapes, the seeds, stems and grape-peels aren’t thrown away, rather they are distilled to produce tsikoudia.