Croatia, a country of stunning coastlines, rich history, and warm-hearted people, has a vibrant tradition of raising a glass (or three) to celebrate life’s moments. If you travel to this country, expect to be embraced by the local people through drinking! So our advice? Learning Croatian drinking culture is a must if you want to connect with people!
But how did these drinking traditions come to be, and what can you expect from a bar crawl in Croatia? Grab your beverage of choice, say “živjeli” (cheers), and let’s explore the most popular and traditional drinks that have become known with Croatian festivities!
Most Popular & Traditional Croatian Drinks
Rakija, often referred to as the “water of life,” is a strong fruit brandy that holds a special place in Croatian hearts, so much so that it is the national drink of Croatia. Grape brandy, plum brandy, pear brandy, herbal brandy, and even walnut brandy are the most popular!
Passed down through generations, rakija is deeply rooted in Croatian culture and is commonly enjoyed before or after celebrations. Its distinct flavors make it a true Croatian classic! If you meet locals in Croatia, expect to be lifting up a shot of rakija more than once during the night!
#2: Croatian Wine
Croatia has a long and proud tradition of winemaking that dates back hundreds of years. The country’s diverse climate and fertile soils offer the perfect conditions for producing exquisite wines!
Be sure to sample Plavac Mali, Malvazija, and Graševina to truly appreciate the most famous Croatian wines. If you find yourself loving Croatian wine, you should go on a winery tour to view stunning Croatian vineyards and fully appreciate the effort that goes into every glass!
Tip: If you don’t know where to start with winery tours, check out the coastal regions of Istria and Dalmatia or the inland vineyards of Slavonia and Zagorje!
When it comes to beer, Ožujsko is the king in Croatia. This refreshing lager is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, particularly during lively gatherings and sporting events. It has a light, crisp taste, and a beautiful golden hue. Whether you’re cheering for your favorite football team or sharing laughs with friends at a local pub, a glass of Ožujsko will always find its way to your table. Ožujsko brings people together!
Originating from the Zadar region by the coast, Maraschino liqueur is a traditional Croatian drink. Made from Marasca cherries, this sweet and aromatic liqueur has been produced since the 16th century!
It gained popularity among the nobility and has since become a symbol of Zadar. Maraschino is often sipped on special occasions, such as weddings, and its distinct flavor adds a touch of elegance and tradition to any celebration. Try asking about this drink at a local bar, you never know what stories will come out when talking about Maraschino!
If you’re looking to experience a taste that’s both traditional and medicinal, Pelinkovac is your go-to. It’s made from a blend of herbs, most notably the wormwood plant, which gives it its distinctive bitter flavor. Pelinkovac is believed to have digestive properties and is often consumed after a heavy meal. You’ll often find it making an appearance during family gatherings or as a traditional welcome drink for a big celebration.
Common Croatian Drinking Culture Vocabulary
Want to practice using these words on a big night out in Croatia? Here are 15 common drinking vocabulary words in Croatian to expand your language skills while having fun!
Traditional Croatian Drinking Experiences
Are you looking to immerse yourself in Croatia’s rich cultural heritage through a night out? Whether it’s a family gathering, a celebration, or a festive occasion, these experiences are filled with warmth, laughter, and a sense of togetherness!
Kod Kuće – At Home Gathering
One such traditional drinking experience is the “Kod kuće” gathering, where friends and family come together in someone’s home to enjoy drinks. This relaxed and cozy setting encourages conversations and bonding over drinks such as rakija, sweet dessert wine, or homemade liqueurs. The host takes pride in offering their guests a taste of their homemade specialties, often passed down through generations of families!
Konoba / Bistro – Tavern Bars
Croatians also cherish the experience of visiting a “Konoba” or “Bistro” – a cozy tavern-like setting. These places exude a rustic charm and serve as hubs where locals gather to unwind and enjoy a drink or two. Whether it’s sipping on a glass of local wine or beer or snacking on traditional Croatian dishes, these establishments offer a truly authentic drinking experience.
Weddings And Harvest Festivals
During festive occasions like weddings or harvest festivals, traditional drinking customs take center stage. Toasts are raised, glasses clink, and heartfelt wishes are shared with a resounding “Živjeli!” The clinking of glasses signifies unity and good fortune, and the celebration continues long into the night, fueled by the spirit of togetherness and joy.
Want to learn more about Croatian culture? Check out Croatian wedding traditions!
In Croatia, drinking isn’t just about overindulging; it’s about forging bonds, celebrating life’s milestones, and cherishing the company of loved ones! Whether you’re toasting with rakija at a wedding, clinking glasses of wine at a harvest festival, or raising a beer at a tavern, each drink holds a connection to the Croatian spirit.
So, as you embark on your language-learning journey, don’t forget to raise your glass and say “živjeli” (cheers) to the wonderful world of Croatian drinking culture.
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