by Shaun Fraser
Croatia has some exceptional drinks that you can’t leave the country without trying. If you’re planning a self-catering trip to Croatia, you’ll be able to sample authentic Adriatic flavours without spending a fortune in the hotel bar. Furthermore, the best Croatian drinks aren’t included in most package holiday deals – so you won’t be missing out by choosing self-catering.
Image by ironypoisoning, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY SA 2.0)
In the privacy of your villa’s terrace, you can sip on chilled beer as you wind down after a busy day of sightseeing. Or, enjoy some rich fruit spirit aperitifs before you sit down to a delicious homemade meal. Tempted? If so, here are some Croatian drinks for you to sample:
This fruit brandy is Croatia’s most popular spirit. It’s strong, and often home-brewed, but you’ll also find it to buy if you want to take some back to your holiday home.
Image by pinguino, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)
Rakia comes in a wide range of flavour varieties. Sljivovica, the most traditional, is made with plums, and found largely in the north of the country. Other common types include lozovaca, which is made from grapes, and the pear-based kruskovac.
A bitter-tasting liqueur like Jägermeister, Pelinkovac is a popular drink throughout Croatia, and there are many local brands you can try. Renting an apartment in Split? Dalmacijavino is the favourite variety there. If you’re staying in a villa in northern Croatia, near Zagreb, look out for Badel Pelinkovac.
Croatia’s Istrian peninsula produces biska. This unique liqueur is made using mistletoe leaves and herbs. It’s been around for thousands of years, and locals are adamant supporters of its medicinal effects. For a true Croatian experience, serve cold, and drink it as an aperitif.
This odd but easy and sweet drink is well-loved in Croatia and some surrounding countries. It consists of a half-and-half mix of red wine and cola. Mix one up in seconds in the kitchen of your rental accommodation for a refreshing fizzy drink to enjoy in the sun.
Wine in Croatia
Croatia is an up-and-coming wine producer, and oenophiles are sure to enjoy the different varieties on offer. There are tens of thousands of vineyards, and hundreds of wineries, so you’re bound to find something to suit your tastes.
Istria is a predominant wine region, and white Malvazija is one of its best known products. The island of Korcula, off Croatia’s southern tip, is also home to some delicious, light white wines.
For red, the best quality wines are made in Dalmatia. The full bodied Bavic is amongst the region’s most popular types. Lookout for the Plavac wines if you feel like treating yourself to a luxurious, premium variety.
Beer in Croatia
Two brands dominate the Croatian beer scene: Ožujsko and Karlovačka. Both come in a range of different flavours. You’ll find these on sale in shops and bars everywhere in Croatia, so wherever you’re staying, they won’t be hard to get your hands on.
For local specialities and craft beers, there is also plenty on offer, especially around Zagreb. Here, you’ll find a number of microbreweries, and the two beers produced by the esteemed Lika Brewery.
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Shaun Fraser is a former drinks rep, who now focuses on writing about his favourite tipples from Europe and beyond. He credits his good nose to a previous life as a sommelier.