From classic sherbets, slurpy malts, to unique tea and coffee, as always Turkey spoils you for choice! Influenced by both Europe and Asia, the Turks are famous for their interesting blends of brews and contrasting flavours from the two sides of the Bosporus. The options can be a tad overwhelming, so we’ve pared them down to the best ones.

1. Raki

With ancient origins that go back almost 300 years, Raki is the preferred form of alcohol practically everywhere in Turkey! Churned from fresh grapes or figs, this drink is an acquired taste and Indians are sure to recognize the strong scent of aniseed (Valaiti Sauf).

Raki is often paired with a delicious meze of Turkish appetizers, feta cheese, meat kebabs, melons or even fish! Follow the local table customs here to clink your glass bottoms and sip the drink slowly. You win at courtesy if you get up from the gathering still standing!

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: When drinking Raki, the oldest person raises the toast while the youngest serves the drinks.

2. Çay (Turkish Tea)

While traditional Indian tea feels incomplete without milk, the Turkish ‘Çay’ (ironically pronounced as ‘chai’) is almost always served black. A unique double teapot is used to brew Cay. While one of the pots is used for boiling the water, the other one’s for the tea to merely rest and soak up the flavour. This is then poured into a short tulip glass (you can adjust the amount of water and sugar as per your need).

‘Çay’  is so well-infused into the local culture and so deeply intrinsic in their hospitality that you will always find yourself being served tea all across Turkey – homes, shops, tea gardens, and even malls

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: When you’re served ‘Çay’  in a Tukish home or shop, it is polite to not refuse it. If you don’t want more, place the spoon face down on top of the glass.

3. Tursu Suyu

An impressive mix of pickled carrots, beets, onions, and spices, Tursu Suyu is a bright pink concoction that you’re bound to stumble upon on the streets of Turkey. You are sure to find local vendors aplenty selling these on carts. 

The ancient Ottomans believed Tursu Suyu to be a great energy booster! Make sure to taste it  and you’ll be sipping a real tongue twister. Aside from a good crunch of pickles, you are sure to get a kick from the salty and tangy flavour that will leave your taste buds tingling for ages! 

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: Try this drink like the locals – paired with fish bread or fish sandwiches.

4. Salep

A thirst to brave the dropping temperatures led the Turks to invent Salep. A blend of crushed wild orchid roots and hot milk, sprinkled with cinnamon, served in a cuppa is sure to warm your heart in the dead of winter.

Be sure to have Salep made in its authentic form rather than the one from the supermarket which has artificial flavours instead. Pure orchid salep takes around 40 minutes to cook, so that’s one way to be sure you’re served the real thing!

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: If you’re in Istanbul, we recommend having Salep at Emirgan Sütiş on European side or at Dondurmacı Ali Usta on the Asian.

5. Boza

 

A lot like Salep, Boza is another winter drink but with a weird twist – a cold drink, it leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside! The drink has been famous since the rule of the Ottomans when the same old ingredients like milk, millet, and sugar were fermented together to give a paradoxically interesting malt! 

Topped with cinnamon or roasted chickpeas (leblebi or what we call chana), Boza is an acquired taste. You can drink it right out of a glass or pick up a spoon to enjoy a beautiful thick texture and a taste that is sweet yet surprisingly tangy. You’ll encounter quite a few street vendors with canisters calling out to try some ‘boza’. Make sure to try some. 

6. Kahve (Turkish Coffee)

Love to have your coffee strong and unfiltered? Then Turkish coffee is right up your alley (oops, we mean right down your throat!) Fine coffee grinds, sugar, and water are boiled thrice in a copper pot that’s bound to produce enough steam for foam lovers. 

This frothy mixture is poured bit by bit into a small elegant cup with the beans bobbing up and down. A taste of this Kahve promises you a shocking surprise and will definitely make drinking plain old espresso boring for you.

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: Drink Kahve slowly and try it with a sweet or two.

7. Turkish Beer And Wine

Influenced by the French, the Turks have produced red, white, and rosé wines from locally grown grapes since ages. If you’re in the mood for some wine – get a taste of this. As for beer, a famous must-have brand here is Efes Pilsner. 

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: If you’re in Istanbul, we recommend Taps Bebek to try craft beers.

Now that you know about these brews, grab a drink and let’s toast, or as the Turks say ‘şerefe’!