Bosnia and Herzegovina may be a small Balkan country, but it has a big heart, and one of the reasons for this is the wonderful and welcoming Bosnian drinking culture. You see, Bosnia has a long history of winemaking, brewing, and distilling with grape cultivation and wine production dating back to the Roman era. Over the centuries, the country has developed a unique drinking culture that blends traditional customs with modern influences. In this blog, we will explore the various aspects of Bosnian drinking culture, including its history, traditional drinks, customs, and social norms. Let’s begin!
History Of Bosnian Drinking Culture
Bosnian drinking culture has its roots in the country’s ancient history. The region’s fertile soil and favorable climate have made it an ideal location for grape cultivation and wine production. The Romans, who occupied Bosnia from the 1st century BC to the 4th century AD, were the first to introduce grapevines to the area.
Over the centuries, Bosnians developed their own winemaking techniques, using local grape varieties and traditional methods. In addition to wine, the locals also learned about brewed beer and distilled spirits, such as the potent Rakia, a type of fruit brandy.
During the Ottoman period, which lasted from the 15th to the 19th century, Islam became the dominant religion in Bosnia. As a result, alcohol consumption was restricted among Muslims, but the practice continued among the Christian and Jewish populations. However, it is important to point out that today many Muslims are secular and are not averse to a few drinks after a hard day at work or a tipple and boogie in a nightclub at the weekend.
In the 20th century, Bosnia’s drinking culture underwent significant changes. Under the socialist regime of Yugoslavia, alcohol consumption was encouraged to promote social unity and relaxation. However, after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the country’s drinking culture became more fragmented and diverse, with different regions and communities developing their customs and preferences.
Bosnia is home to many traditional drinks with distinct flavors and characters. Some of the most popular traditional drinks include:
Bosnian wines are known for their rich, fruity flavors and distinctive aromas. The country’s most famous wine region is Herzegovina, which produces high-quality wines to rival those from nearby Italy and France from indigenous grape varieties such as Blatina, Vranac, and Žilavka.
Bosnian beer is brewed using traditional techniques and high-quality ingredients, resulting in a rich, full-bodied flavor. The most popular Bosnian beers include Sarajevsko Pivo, Tuzlanski Pivo, and Mostarsko Pivo.
Rakia is a type of fruit brandy that is popular throughout the Balkans. Bosnian Rakia is made from various fruits, including plum, apricot, and grape, and is often served as a digestif after a meal. Rakia can be drunk on special occasions, but having a snifter whenever the occasion requires a toast is not a big deal.
This traditional Bosnian booze is made from fermented grains, typically wheat or corn. It has a thick, creamy texture and a sweet, nutty flavor and is often served with roasted chickpeas or walnuts.
Bosnian Drinking Customs And Social Norms
Drinking alcohol is a central part of Bosnian social life, and it is common for friends and family to gather for a drink or two. However, there are certain customs and social norms that govern the consumption of alcohol in Bosnia.
Making A Toast
In Bosnia, if you drink alcohol, it is customary to toast when greeting new friends and before taking the first sip of a drink. The group’s host or oldest person usually initiates the toast, and everyone else follows suit. To do this, you can simply say, “Nazdravlje!” to drink to health.
Sharing A Drink
It is common for Bosnians to share drinks with their friends and family. Itcommonmmon for a group of people to order a single bottle of wine or Rakia and share it among themselves.
Making New Friends
Bosnia is yet to be inundated with tourists, so if you are grabbing a bevy, expect to be joined by the locals who want to drink socially and be keen to strike up a conversation, find out where you are from, and practice their English. Just remember the legal drinking age is 18.
Enjoy A Shisha
Hookah bars are common throughout the country, with locals who want to enjoy a beer or a coffee while having an aromatic puff on a shisha. Striking up a conversation with the locals over a shisha pipe would be an unforgettable experience when visiting this beautiful country.
Bosnia Makes Marvelous Beer
The best beer needs the best quality water. Mountains surround Sarajevo, so there is no shortage of fresh mineral water. It is well worth setting aside an afternoon to visit the Sarajevsko brewery in Sarajevo to take a closer look at the beer-making process and enjoy a glass of something cool and refreshing.
Enjoy A Superb Glass Of Wine
Herzegovina has been producing wine for millennia because of its superb soil composition and microclimates. Many monasteries still store barrels and bottles in their cellars, and many Bosnians drink wine with food in restaurants. Cracking open a bottle in a bar is sure to make you some new friends.
Share A Shot Of Rakia
Rakia is a strong alcoholic drink that almost tastes pure alcohol with a fruity twist, a favorite tipple throughout the Balkans. Many people will enjoy homemade Rakia, similar to vodka, and you can expect to be offered a shot as a sundowner in rural areas and in the classiest bars and nightclubs. Whether you think it has good or bad taste, you cannot say you have experienced Bosnia without experiencing Rakia.
Useful Bosnian Words To Use When Raising A Toast
Raise A Glass To Bosnian Drinking Culture With Ling
Having a social drink with a bunch of Bosnians is a surefire way to improve your grasp of the Bosnian language. Before heading to the bar, why not download the Ling app from Google Play or App Store and brush up on a few Bosnian words and phrases? The Ling app has lessons in more than 60 languages to learn, so it is the perfect companion wherever you travel in the world for a tipple with new friends.