You think your grandfather’s homemade moonshine was strong? Ha! Just taking a ‘wif’ of Yeni Raki (above) could knock you to the ground. Yeni Raki , also called Raki, is a 90 proof (45% alcohol by volume) liquor, that is considered one of the beloved local beverages in Turkey. It can be consumed chilled on its own, or with a splash of water. Don’t be alarmed if you add water and Yeni Raki turns from translucent to looking like a glass of milk. This colour change is supposed to happen. And here I thought the locals just thoroughly enjoyed drinking milk.
I didn’t know what I was in for when I ordered my first shot of Yeni Raki, but I knew I had to try this beverage because it had its own nickname. A nickname so mysterious, so bold, so daring, that I could picture it as a replacement for the HOLLYWOOD sign in California. They call it: “Lion’s Milk”. Only those who can successfully consume Lion’s Milk are considered to be a worthwhile human being.
Before I took my shot, I smelled it. But not directly with my nose — are you crazy? This is Lion’s milk we’re talking about. I wafted my hand over the glass, just like I was taught to do in science class over a beaker. It seemed safe. It smelled a little like black Twizzlers, a liquorice candy. With my husband and the waiter watching (and giggling), I couldn’t back down now. I wanted to be a lion. This was the most anticipated sip of a drink I have ever had in my life.
I did it. My mouth felt as though it was filled with liquorice scented fire. Yeni Raki hit the back of my mouth and immediately caused my eyes to tightly shut, as if I was watching a creepy scene from The Ring. My eyes started to water, but I managed to gather enough strength to do what I normally do without thinking even about: swallow. I quickly grabbed a glass of Coke to help get rid of the taste, but I didn’t have enough strength to take a sip until 2 minutes later.
Take that Yeni Raki. Would I do it again? Not a chance. Am I glad I tried it? Not really. But I do know why everyone is so happy in Turkey; they are all loaded! Haha! Just kidding. Just taking one shot of this stuff, I needed to sleep with one foot on the ground to stop the room from spinning. I think I’ll stick to the Turkish Coffee.