Extreme Rakija: 10 Unusual Uses of Slavonia’s Favourite Friend

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As part of my detox, I posted on Facebook a few days ago, asking people to name their most unusual usage of this very fabric of Slavonian society, as well as their most (un)memorable moment. Here are three of the many answers.

My great grandma used to slather rakija on her entire body every morning (like someone less extreme would put on body lotion). I don’t think she’s ever had a cold in her life.My great grandma used to slather rakija on her entire body every morning (like someone less extreme would put on body lotion). I don’t think she’s ever had a cold in her life.

Use it for hair massage. It runs blood circulation so fast that you will have long hair overnight after massage. (Editor’s note – I tried this but the bald patch is still there.)

In Croatia there is a famous cocktail called dum-dum vodka. Mix vodka and sprite, cover the glass with your hand and hit the table a few times. When we ran out of vodka, we decided to go for dum-dum rakija and use the motorbike helmet on my head instead of the table. Numerous dum-dum-dum’s followed after that. That was a shaky experience!

There was clearly an article to be written, but not only is my time very limited at the moment due to last week, but also why reinvent the wheel when there are experts with time on their hands. 

I decided to contact one of the most dangerous and entertaining men I have met in Croatia – last week’s guide, Domagoj Butkovic of the outstanding Kulen Travel. 

Rakija – nectar of the Gods. Universal medicine. Tradition deeply rooted in history. When in Croatia – you can run but you can’t hide from Rakija. And don’t you dare to refuse one when offered, because you will be forever marked.

This 40% alcohol fruit distillate is a solution to many problems. Plum, pear, apple, quince, apricot, you name it we have it! A good old saying goes: A psychiatrist can help, but rakija is less expensive. 

Let’s go together through some unusual uses of this God given liquid.

1. The way to prove who is the boss 

The easiest way to tell who’s the head of the household is to just look at rakija production. If more plums from the orchard go for marmalade, the lady is in charge. If more plums go for rakija, the man is in charge. 

2. Cleaning

Sunday family lunch is prepared and your kitchen floor is full of greasy stains? Don’t worry, rakija is here to save the day! Sweep the floor with rakija and make those tiles shine once again! 

3. Numbing the pain

Probably the most famous use of rakija is to numb the pain. No matter if it is toothache, headache or heartache, rakija will make all the problems go away. Doctors suggest taking a shot 3 times a day, every 8 hours.

4. Antifreeze

It’s a cold winter day and your car ran out of antifreeze. How many times have you found yourself in this situation? Take a sip of rakija, pour the rest of the bottle in your car and watch it defrost.


5. Rakija-powered Tomos

Believe it or not, legend has it that the famous motorcycle Tomos can run on rakija. The only trouble is a liter of rakija is far more expensive than a liter of gasoline, but maybe not for too long.

6. Lowering the body temperature

Smell of rakija reminds us of being sick. When we were kids, our grandmas were the ones taking care of us, and grandmas know best. Socks and scarves dipped into rakia and then worn are the best way to lower your temperature.

7. Disinfection

In this day and age we all know how important disinfectants are. Spray rakija on your hands and all the unwanted germs and bacteria will be gone in the blink of an eye. Take a shot after to do the same with your throat. 

8. Good luck charm

After a baby is born, a bottle of rakija is buried underground. This rakija is to stay buried until the event of a great meaning – usually wedding. Opening that bottle of rakija and serving it to guests means good luck.


(TCN in familiar Slavonian drinking pose with Kulen Travel’s Domagoj Butkovic and Stanko Skrobo at the phenomenal Baranjska Kuca in Karanac)

9. Better than a contract

When you buy something, settle a deal or get a job, you are supposed to have a rakija with everyone who you meet shortly after. This tradition is called aldumash and it is here to make sure your new contract is going to last.

10. Skin cleaning

A well hidden secret from many of us is that rakija can be used to clean the skin of your face. It’s not as strong as medical alcohol and it does have antioxidants and vitamins which are good for your skin. You might smell funny, but you will look nice!  

Looking for more extreme rakija insights? Check out the TC Rakija, Disconnecting People guide


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