Traditional Turkish Drinks Sherbets
Traditional syrups and sherbets, a name derived from "sharba" which means "drink," have found their place in Turkey from Persian food culture and have long been favorites with their myriad flavors and healing effects.
Fresh fruits, spices, and flower essences still have a big place in Turkish cuisine with Persian, Levantine, and Central Asian influences. A very popular beverage during the time of the Ottoman Empire was sherbet. Recipes vary greatly, but the basic ingredients include a mix of flower extracts, fruits, or herbs added to sugar and water. Flavors that are commonly found in sherbets include rose, hibiscus, lemon, pomegranate, peach, cardamom, tamarind, and mint.
Sherbet and fruit compotes regularly accompanied Ottoman meals, especially during the fast-breaking meal, iftar, during Ramadan. On hot summer days, sherbets were served to guests as refreshments and consumed by lactating women to boost their milk production. These drinks were also served daily, especially with coffee, and consumed for their known healing effects against certain diseases. Today, sherbet is mostly served in crystal bowls on ceremonial occasions all around Turkey.
Some traditional sherbets to try are demirhindi şerbeti (tamarind sherbet), ayva şerbeti (quince sherbet), gelincik şerbeti (common or corn poppy sherbet), gül şerbeti (rose sherbet), hibiscus sherbet, kızılcık şerbeti (Cornelian cherry sherbet), nane-limon şerbeti (mint-lemon sherbet), meyan kökü şerbeti (licorice sherbet), and safran şerbeti (saffron sherbet).
Some of the other unique beverages found in Turkish cuisine are listed below.
Ayran, which is also known as the non-alcoholic national drink of Turkey, is made of yogurt, water, and salt. It is very easy to make this drink on your own by mixing all the ingredients mentioned above, according to your own taste and desired thickness.
Traditional sparkling mineral water and carbonated (soda) water are found across Turkey both natural and with various added flavors.
It is a malt drink made by fermenting various grains such as maize and wheat.
It is a Turkish non-alcoholic drink made from slightly fermented grape juice. It tastes sweet due to the high fructose it contains.
It is a popular juice (vegetable-based beverage) which belongs to Turkey’s Southeastern region around the cities of Mersin and Adana. It is a great example of Turkish regional cuisine. In Turkish, the word “şalgam” means turnip, but this traditional drink is actually made from purple carrots, bulgur wheat, salt, and yeast.
Turkish sahlep is a hot creamy drink that warms you up in winter. It is made with milk, sugar, and orchid bulb powder.
Although it was late to become an integral part of Turkish life, tea has a history of 5,000 years and has now become an indispensable part of Turkish culture. Turkish brewing techniques and presentation have a significant share in this success. Tea is consumed at all hours of the day and is a must at breakfast. All you need is a nice cup of Turkish tea to complete your incredible morning feast. Make sure to drink tea brewed from tea leaves gathered in the Black Sea region. You won’t believe the beauty of a cup of tea served from a Turkish double teapot rather than the classic teapot most of us might be accustomed to.
Rakı, which is known as Turkey's national alcoholic drink, is an anise-flavored spirit. Drinking rakı comes with its own culture. The strong and clear liquor is usually diluted with water.
Rakı, a strong aniseed-based spirit, is sometimes referred to as “lion's milk.” It is clear, but due to the aniseed it contains, it turns cloudy when water, ice, or soda is added. Most people dilute it with water although some drink it only with ice. A glass of pure water to go with it gives a distinct pleasant taste.
Rakı is made from different fruits in different regions, but grapes, figs, and plums are the main ones.
Today, in Turkey, drinking rakı has its own traditional rituals. Consuming rakı is best accompanied by enjoyable conversation with good friends during the course of a long evening. Fish is the best meal to accompany rakı; however, if your appetite is not that big, a plate of mezes on the table to share between everyone is the next best choice. White cheese and kavun (melon) are the main and most popular mezes to have with your rakı.
Rakı is not a fermentation drink like wine and beer but a distillation drink, so more technical knowledge and equipment are necessary for its production.
It is traditionally produced from raisin/grape spirit called suma that is distilled to a maximum of 94.55% abv. This spirit is not highly rectified spirit and unlike other flavored spirits, rakı producers consider that the suma has an important role to play in the flavor of rakı itself.
The suma, or the suma mixed with highly rectified spirit, is diluted with water re-distilled with aniseed and the spirit is collected at around 79-80% abv. The flavored distillate is diluted, sweetened, and allowed to rest for a minimum of 30 days prior to sale in order to allow the flavors to harmonize.
Decent beer is always available in Turkey.
Turkey produces several good lagers. The best and best-selling Turkish beer (80% of the market) is Efes Pilsen, brewed in izmir. The same company brews Becks, Miller, Warsteiner, and Fosters under license.
Tuborg is also brewed in Turkey under license.
The craft beer movement has come to Turkey with small companies producing limited-production brews with unique flavors. In İstanbul, Bomonti is the recreation of a historic beer famous a century ago.
You won’t die of thirst on a hot day in Turkey, for sure!
Served with lokum (Turkish delight), Turkish coffee combines special preparation and brewing techniques with a rich communal traditional culture. The freshly roasted beans are ground to a fine powder; then, the ground coffee, cold water, and sugar are added to a coffee pot and brewed slowly on a stove to produce the desired foam.
The beverage is served in small cups, accompanied by a glass of water, and it is mainly drunk in coffeehouses where people meet to converse, share news, and read books. The tradition itself is a symbol of hospitality, friendship, refinement, and entertainment that permeates all walks of life. An invitation for coffee among friends provides an opportunity for intimate talk and the sharing of daily concerns.
Turkish coffee also plays an important role on social occasions such as engagement ceremonies and holidays. Its knowledge and rituals are transmitted informally by family members through observation and participation. The grounds left in the empty cup are often used to tell a person’s fortune. Turkish coffee is regarded as part of Turkish cultural heritage: it is celebrated in literature and songs, and is an indispensable part of ceremonial occasions.
Turkey is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world and adds new flavors to the global lancscape of wine culture. From east to west, Anatolian lands host hundreds of unique grape varieties. These different types of grapes turn into unique Turkish wines in new and modern vineyards, and continue to increase the passion for wine in the world.
Turkish wines are expanding into the world with unique single-vineyard wines obtained from the very special grapes grown only in Anatolian soils, and with coupage wines, made with the best-known grapes in the world.
The Marmara region, especially the part that is in Thrace, is home to some very attractive grape varieties with different and rich flavors: the unique purple-colored and soft Papazkarası, a very light grape called Karasakız and a white grape called Yapıncak. Around Çanakkale and Bozcaada, on the way to the Aegean region, Vasilaki draws attention with its dark yellow color.
Aegean dishes can be matched with the amazing wines coming from the vineyards of Urla, Aydın, and Manisa. Local Aegean wine grapes are Urla Karası, Foça Karası, and Bornova Misketi.
Two of Anatolia's strongest and oldest grapes come back to life in the Eastern Anatolia and Southeastern Anatolia regions: Öküzgözü and Boğazkere. Round and dark-colored, Öküzgözü is considered as the absolute companion to meat dishes as a result of its body, and permanent and red fruity structure. Boğazkere is a valuable grape with its spicy taste and the sourness it leaves on the palate. The perfect combination of these two varieties of red grapes is found among the most popular of Turkey's many well-known wine brands.
Süryani şarapları (Assyrian wines) from Mardin and Midyat are also a must-try. These wines have been produced for centuries in the southeastern regions of Turkey by the local Christian communities who have developed expertise in winemaking traditions.
Kalecik karası, one of the oldest grapes, grows near Ankara, Turkey’s capital city. It goes especially well with meat dishes. It is one of Turkey's rarest fruit-flavored red wines. Narince, which is grown in Tokat, is used for white wine production and has an important place among the grapes with an Anatolian origin.
It is impossible not to mention Emir when on a journey among the white grapes present in Central Anatolia. Emir is grown in Cappadocia and thanks to its refreshing flavor and aroma, it is used as a monosepage but can also be produced as a coupage with other white grapes such as Sultaniye or Chardonnay. It goes well with seafood and fish. Cappadocia is a highly suitable and promising place to grow and harvest grapes for wine-making purposes.