For most (especially those who do not come from Crete) the distinction is not clear.

With a search on the internet you can find that “with EEC regulation no. 1576/89 voted in 1989, Turks registered the name “raki” and Greeks the names Tsipouro Tyrnavou, Tsipouro Makedonias, Ts;ipoyro Thessalias and Tsikoudia Kritis. Therefore, since 1989, raki in Greece is now officially called tsikoudia, although the name raki is a Greek word.”

Tsikoudia or raki got its name from the distillate produced from Cretan grapes (Cretan grapefruit from raspberries or ancient Greek rax or Ionian rock – grape stalks, from rax> raki), but we also call it tsikoudia since the marcs in Crete also called tsikouda.

Apart from the root of the word, however, tsikoudia for the Cretans is a sign of friendship and kindness but it is also a tool of social communication. For this reason there is no home without a bottle of tsikoudia available at any time! If you refuse a treat in a Cretan house, it is considered rude or hatred and the whole process is a ritual whose purpose is the pleasant intercourse and to show the good mood of the host.

Tsikoudia is considered the queen of drinks because it is pure. It has no dyes or industrial alcohols. It provides anxiolytic and relaxing properties but helps with appetite, digestion and body temperature.

Tsikoudia, although it belongs to the strong alcoholic beverages, works beneficially for human health, if it is consumed prudently (1 to 2 glasses a day). Indicatively the tsikoudia:

  • The presence of alcohol causes vasodilation and lowers blood pressure.
  • It has antimicrobial properties.
  • Improves the levels of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (body mass index, total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, glucose, insulin).
  • Reduces the adhesion capacity of platelets, the blood molecules that are responsible for blood clots.

Raki or tsikoudia, is an integral part of Cretan life as well as an entire local philosophy of the place.


* By ADAMANTIOU (MAKI) KRASANAKI (President of Crete A. Paraskevi, Attica, Director of the Ministry of Culture)