Drinks during yacht charter cruise
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Gulet holidays and drinks onboard: what are the options?

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All You Need to Know: "Blue Cruise Refreshments"

Would you like to know the scope of beverages available in Turkey? Wine? Beer? Soft drinks? We have them all, but there are other drinks, with which you may not be so well acquainted, and with which you will need to become acquainted if you’re going to have a proper experience. If you follow my meaning, then read on….

In Turkey, the unofficial national drink is still “raki” and in Greece, the unofficial national drink is still “Ouzo” - although according to who you talk to in Greece, they could argue that it is “retsina” - a white, resinated wine. Raki, locally referred to as “lion’s milk”, where the word, “lion” doubles in the local lingo for “brave man”, is quite strong, and cannot be drunk straight, unless you’d like to "strip the lining off your gullet”.

According to the region where it is prepared, raki is either made from freshly picked grapes, dried grapes, figs, mulberries or plums … and it’s really very moreish once you have the correct dilution and plenty of ice to keep it cool! We recommend that if you haven’t tried raniseed-infused raki before, you give it a try.

Chances are, you will see that it’s no where near as sweet as ouzo (also a drink flavoured with aniseed) and when you’re on your gulet chatting with your captain, or sitting alongside the shore in a fish restaurant… the smell of the raki will permeate the air, as a prelude to much joviality … and long, drawn-out conversations between clinks of glasses.

If you are not into raki, beer or wine, then there’s still something new to try! You haven’t been to Turkey until you have had a glass of cold “ayran” on the rocks, which happens to be one of the most refreshing yoghurt drinks ever — and it’s easy to like this drink, provided you are not expecting it to taste like a “lassi” drink from India, which is sweet and not salty. Enjoy your cold ayran with some hot flaky pastry “burek” and you will be in heaven. It suits any kind of meat-based or cheese-based pastry dish (or even the local pizza, known as “pide”) — and will accompany any Turkish-style meal which does not include fish and seafood.

Turkish pide delicious food
Turkish drink ayran
Turkish desserts and pastry borek

And should the idea of watered-down yoghurt as a drink not meet with too much enthusiasm, you may enjoy Turkey’s huge variety of fruit juices, either straight or mixed with soda, to cut down on the sweetness.

One summertime favourite is a mixture of freshly-squeezed lemon juice and soda (four parts soda, one part lemon) for an extra refreshing refreshment. Another, cool, slightly sweet and slightly tart palate refresher, is sour cherry juice and soda.

There’s also pomegranate juice which can be used as a mixer…. and a base for too — and you can find every kind of juice under the sun in Turkey, if you try. Blueberry, Mulberry, Cornelian cherry, Apple, orange, grape, apricot, peach, pomegranate, pineapple and tomato are all easy to find. Cranberry juice is imported from the USA. It is also possible to try a mixture of red fruits, a mixture of orange fruits, grape and mango, grape and apricot, grape and sour cherry, peach and grape and wait for it …. there’s even a couple of juice mixes designed to pep you up after a hard night out, namely Elite Naturel’s "Organic Acai, Pomegranate and Black Mulberry" juice …. and Dimes's "100% Mixed Fruit" and contains antioxidant-packed blend of apple, white grape, orange, apricot, peach, carrot and mango. It’s more than delicious!

Wine is plentiful in Turkey and as Turkey is home to a number of indigenous grape varieties, chances are you’ll sample some wines here the like of which you have never tried before. Turkish wines have won quite a bit of recognition in international wine competitions in recent years, and continue to impress judges year in and year out. This is a sign that the Turkish wine industry is really coming to the fore — as it rightly should considering that wine making has an 11,000 year history in the land referred to as “Anatolia” — the definition of which, given at Dictionary.com is "a vast plateau between the Black and the Mediterranean seas: in ancient usage, synonymous with the peninsula of Asia Minor; in modern usage, applied to Turkey in Asia.”.

We have a theory that Turkey, the cradle of civilisation, is something of a “Garden of Eden” — where everything that could possibly grow under a Mediterranean sun, grows.

Turkish wine rose
Grapes
Drinking wine on a yacht

If you’re not into raki, beer, wine, spirits, ayran, fruit juice, vegetable juice or soda and mineral water — then we know how to tempt you! Turkey’s most famous hot beverage is “Chay” and it comes in two delicious varieties, hot and hotter! That’s why you’ll only ever find tea in small tulip-shaped glass… it doesn’t have time to cool off! You will have downed it before you can get part-way through your crumbly goat’s cheese and five varieties of olives! Tea is kept hot on the stove with a double-kettle, where water is kept simmering at the bottom and the top section is for the brewing alone. You can top up the water at the bottom at anytime, without disturbing the delicate balance of the flavours that you have toiled over in the top kettle! Well! If you’ve ever tried to make the perfect tea, “Turkish-style”, you will know that it takes a bit of effort to ensure the right colour and harmony between two or more tea varieties, carefully steeped until the aroma bursts forth.

Turkish coffee is also very much a part of the Turkish culture. The beans came to Istanbul via Yemen (having originated in Ethiopia) back in 1555 and in the palace kitchens, the coffee makers discovered that if they roasted the beans over a fire and then finely ground them, they could then mix them with water and slowly bring them to the boil, thrice, over the remnants of a charcoal fire. This slow-cook method, as in the way the Turks treat tea, released the maximum amount of flavours and aromas, and ensured that coffee became a firm favourite of the Ottoman sultans …. and eventually, all of Europe and then, the world.

Written by Victoria Hamilton Boz

Visitor comments

  • Michael

    Michael

    • 3 years ago
    This looks very delicious! Thank you for the article)
  • Veronica

    Veronica

    • 3 years ago
    Our chef from the gulet WHITE ROSE was amazing! We miss Turkish food sooooo much!

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