What does define a country as unique? Perhaps it is its landmarks, its historical places, yet it is an undeniable fact that its culture, above all, makes it so different than the rest of the countries. And cuisine, for that matter, is an impartial factor of the said country’s culture, and Turkey, compared to most of the countries across the world, has one of the richest, if not the richest cuisine in the world.
Yet it is not only the unique and delightful food that stands up or the uniqueness of the cuisine of the country. After all, drinks too, are an important part of the cuisine. Thus, the topic of this article today will be the best drinks in Turkey.
First of all, it should be stated that beverages and drinks are a paramount part of Turkish cuisine, so paramount that even in the three meals of the day, drinks always have a special role within those meals. From breakfast to lunch to dinner.
With that being said, let us proceed forth, and get to know the famous drinks and beverages of Turkey all the better.
1. Turkish Tea
For Turkish people, tea is what brings them all together, as it has a crucial role in social gatherings, neighbor visitations, and many other social activities. Tea has become a very important part of the Turkish culture to the extent it is considered rude if the guest is not served tea. It may sound an exaggeration yet tea is served in almost every part of the regular day of a Turkish person. The breakfast, the lunch, the dinner, and almost every part of the social activities. After all, it can be said that tea is an inseparable part of the lives of the Turkish people.
There are even debates regarding that whether British people or Turkish people drink tea within a day, and the Turkish people always claim that they are the number one tea drinkers all across the world.
As for the origins of the Turkish Tea, however, it is majorly harvested in the Black Sea region of Turkey to an extent where a city in Turkey called ‘Rize’ is famous for its tea, and it is advised to any tourist who would seek to visit there to drink the Rize Tea, as its beautiful taste in unlike any other.
2. Turkish Coffee
Speaking of Turkish Tea having a very important role in Turkish social activities, Turkish Coffee also is as impartial as Turkish Tea, although traditionally speaking its importance is somewhat more different than tea, Turkish Coffee is most commonly known for its usage in fortune-telling. Many fortune tellers in Turkey use Turkish Coffee for their fortune-telling, by turning the cup over into the saucer to let it cool, and then to interpret and contemplate the patterns that appear on the cup.
Yet it is not only for fortune-telling purposes that Turkish Coffee is important but commonly Turkish Coffee is also served in neighbor or guest visitations, to add a flavor to the lovely, friendly chat people are to have.
One another thing that must be mentioned is that Turkish coffee is also a part of the traditional Turkish wedding custom. As a prologue to marriage, the bridegroom’s parents must visit the girl’s family to ask for the hand of the bride-to-be and the blessings of her parents upon the upcoming marriage. During this meeting, the bride-to-be must prepare and serve Turkish coffee to the guests. For the groom’s coffee, the bride-to-be sometimes uses salt instead of sugar to determine the groom’s personality. If the bridegroom drinks his coffee without any sign of displeasure, the bride-to-be assumes that the groom is good-tempered and patient.
There is even a saying in Turkey that “A cup of coffee commits one to forty years of friendship.” Which has a very deep and considerate meaning, that even a small deed such as preparing someone a Turkish Coffee may lead to a longlived friendship, such as the belief and the saying goes.
Boza is one among the oldest drinks in the Turkish Culture, it is known for being one of the favorite drinks of the Turkish people in colder seasons, especially in winter. It is a fermented beverage that is made from hulled millet that is boiled in water and then poured into pans to be cooled. One of the most commonly known producers of Boza, if not the most iconic and famous one, is the “Vefa Bozacisi”, should one desire to try the delight that is Boza, it is best to try it from there, as they have a centuries-old history of making Boza, and truly the best at what they are doing.
4. Turkish Raki
Now, before we proceed onto the moreso alcoholic drinks of Turkey, it must be stated that the drinking age in Turkey is 18, as it is considered to be the age of maturity, people under this age are prohibited from drinking alcohol in Turkey.
If one is, however, above the age of 18, it is entirely safe and legal to drink alcohol, there are special restaurants all over Turkey that is called “Turkish Meyhane”s, while initially, they are like luxury pubs, but not quite the same, as these restaurants have a very special place in Turkish Culture. – And that is where the Turkish Raki comes in.
Raki is the national drink of Turkey, made of twice-distilled grapes and anise. In these restaurants, Raki is served with various appetizers, to accompany the flavor of Raki, to add to the delight of the long chats that one would have with their friends, along with the beautiful nostalgic live Turkish music that is available in almost all those mentioned restaurants. Adding water to the Raki causes it to have a milky-white color, hence the term “lion’s milk” has become a popular reference to the drink itself. Since lion is a Turkish metaphor for a strong, courageous person, the term would go as in “A drink that is for the strong”.
As Raki has a unique place in Turkish Culture, the Turkish people are also very careful and strict about how to drink it. While some people rarely drink Raki by adding no water at all and just adding a couple of ice, that is very uncommon and generally, Raki is drank by adding water on top of the drink and adding ice on top of it.
Raki is not meant to be drunk quickly like Vodka or Tequila, it is meant to be drunk at a slow, calm pace. It is, after all, meant to add a delight to the table, a companion for the long, lovely talk that one would have with their friends who are also at the table.
These “rules” are not entirely mandatory of course, although for example if one would drink Raki, or even drink it as a shot, they should beware after all Raki is a heavy drinker with a considerably high alcohol rate, so taking a few shots of it might get one drunken rather quickly.
Salep, or sahlep or sahlab, is somewhat similar to Boza, although the major difference is that Salep is consumed hot, like tea or coffee for that matter, while its taste is reminiscently similar to Boza’s, Salep is essentially made from hot milk, cinnamon, and orchid flower. It is rare for Salep to be served to a guest during Turkish visitations, however, it is a common drink in the wintery or cold seasons, as it is believed to be healthy against sicknesses that come in cold weather.
As said before, the best time to drink Salep is when one would visit Turkey in colder seasons, truly the taste and the warmth of Salep could rival the taste of a Hot Chocolate on a wintery day, if not it may even be better. – That is up to the taste of the one who drinks of course.
6. Efes Pilsen
There are various Turkish-brand beers. Yet Efes Pilsen is widely considered to be the best among them and is the most commonly preferred Turkish beer. It is not a heavy drinker, unlike Turkish Raki it is nearly the same as a regular beer, however it comes with a rich choice of variety. Favorites may be the classic Efes Pilsen with its iconic bottle, Efes Dark Brown, which has a coffee and chocolate aroma, Efes Draft with its fresh flavor, and Efes Dark with caramel aromas.
Efes Pilsen can be found in any Turkish pub, or even in some of the Turkish restaurants that provide Raki, as with its popularity, so comes how easy to find and drink Efes Pilsen. And while it may seem no different than the common beer, its special taste, and its iconic, unique bottle are no match.
7. Turnip Juice (Salgam Suyu)
Turnip Juice, or with its Turkish name Şalgam (pronounced shal-gam), is a very popular and traditional fermented drink from the southern regions of Turkey, it is generally drunk when eating Turkish Kebap or some of the Turkish cuisine that can be found in Southern Turkey.
Shalgam is considered to be a rather healthy drink, it is served as a cure for those with hangovers, and helps with digestion. Aside from that, because of its anthocyanin content reduce health disease risks and the probability of carcinogenic occurrences.
Shalgam is also often served alongside the alcoholic drink rakı in a separate glass as their tastes are believed to complement one another, that is however completely up to the person’s preference, however, commonly they drink together.
Shalgam has been celebrated as a festival in Adana since 2010. The World Raki or with its other name, Adana Shalgam Festivalemerged from a hundred-year tradition of enjoying kebabs with shalgam and raki, The event turned into a nationwide popular street festival; street musicians playing drums and zurna entertain visitors all night long on the second Saturday night of December.
If we are to speak of the most commonly known and famous drinks of Turkey, Ayran must be spoken of as well. As even its name itself is a phenomenon in the entirety of the world, one of the most memorable things about Turkish Culture. Ayran is considered to be a summer drink, made from yogurt, water, and salt. As basic as its recipe sounds, Turkish people truly adore Ayran in a special place in their hearts. It goes perfectly with almost every Turkish Food, especially Turkish Kebab, and Doner is almost considered inseparable from them. In addition it is also very healthy.
It does not contain sugar. Drinking salty ayran is one of the few rapid ways to intake sodium (salt) during the summer months when one can dehydrate and lose salt, which can prove dangerous to one’s health. In addition, one can benefit from the undeniable health benefits of yogurt, which is high in protein and calcium.
And it is said that the Ayran’s history is as old as the Turks themselves, given even the ancient Turks of the Gokturk Khanate had been drinking Ayran all those centuries ago, and today ayran is present at every corner across Turkey, offered almost everywhere that serves drinks, including foreign fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King.
9. Pickle Juice (Tursu Suyu)
One of the most popular and famous Turkish street delights is the Pickle Juice or also known as Tursu or Torshi. while it is not commonly drunk alongside foods or cuisines, it is still a wholeheartedly loved drink in Turkish Culture.
It is a refreshing beverage native to Turkey, made from pickled vegetables such as beets, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, onions, peppers, garlic, and brine. It is salty in flavor, with a strong tangy kick at the end, while its color is bright pink.
Pickle Juice is sold by balik ekmek (fish sandwich) vendors and is sometimes paired with fish sandwiches or other street food, yet as said before, it is best to be experienced on its own, while it does compliment the taste of fish sandwiches, the unique, flavoury taste of the Torshi is recommended to be tasted on its own.
Sira is a fermented drink that is rather similar to Shalgam, their colors and their productions are almost identical. The only difference, however, is that while Shalgam is a salty-flavored drink, Sira tastes rather sweet, because of the high fructose it contains. Sira is drunk mostly alongside Iskender Kebap.
However, a flavored version of Sira is also served in the Marmara Region with a different name that is called Hardaliye. Hardaliye is a Sira aromatized in mustard seeds and cherry leaves for 15 days. Hardaliye is usually served on special occasions as an appetizer.
Turkish Sherbet or Sharbat also known as Ottoman Sherbet is a fermented sweet, syrup-like beverage that is also somewhat similar to Sıra, however, its taste and its production are aswell rather different. There are dozens of varieties when it comes to Sherbet as it can be made from almost every fruit Popular sherbets are made of one or more of the following: basil seeds, rose water, fresh rose petals, sandalwood, bael, hibiscus, lemon, orange, mango, pineapple, falsa (Grewia asiatica) and chia seeds.
Sherbet is rather popular in almost every Middle Eastern country, and many Muslims even drink Sherbet when breaking their daily fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Lemonade is very common and popular throughout the world, yet have you ever heard of lemonade that wasn’t sour? That is where the uniqueness of the Turkish Lemonade comes in.
The lemon rinds and sugar are either rubbed together or cooked before they are mixed with the lemon juice.
Just like Ayran, lemonade is also a very much loved beverage in summer for Turkish People, when it’s complemented with mint, its taste becomes all the better.
Aside from being one of the top-time favorites to chill down in summer, Turkish Lemonade is also a preferable delight in Turkish Breakfasts, as its refreshing taste of mint and sweetness is truly a perfect key to a beautiful day.
What Are the Best Dishes of Turkey?
Turkey is a country with the best cuisine in the world with a wide variety of food types. Turkey’s world-renowned best dishes are listed below.
- Stuffed vine leaves
- Doner and Iskender Kebab
- Lokum (Turkish Delight)
- Cig Meatballs
- Stuffed meatballs
- (Midye) Mussel
What are Beverage Companies in Turkey?
The beverage companies are in Turkey listed below:
- Red Bull
- Coca Cola
- Dogus Cay
- Vefa Bozacisi
Is it Legal to Drink Alcohol in Turkey?
As briefly mentioned before, drinking alcohol in Turkey is perfectly fine, so long as one is 18 years old or above. There are, however, some restrictions, for the sake of maintaining the safety of the people generally.
For example, it is prohibited to drive while drunk, and policemen are patrolling the roads at nightly hours to check if some drivers are on the road while drunk indeed.
While there is no heavy punishment or jail time if one is caught, for example, there is a money punishment if one is caught driving while they are drunk. The heavy punishments however, may be prominent if one commits a crime in a drunken state, mayhaps causing a traffic accident, and so on forth.
All these aside, however, drinking alcohol in Turkey is legal indeed, so long as it’s done without harassing others.