Drinks in Croatia: Typical Beverages on the Island of Hvar
An overview of drinks and drinking in Croatia, from coffee etiquette, fruit teas and tap water, to wine, beers and some rather interesting liqueurs.
One of the joys of foreign travel is sampling local delicacies, and the island of Hvar in Croatia has a varied selection of local beverages to tempt visiting tourists. Here is a quick overview of what kind of drinks to expect on Hvar.
The Dalmatian Coffee Break
Dalmatia is a cafe culture, and very little comes between a Dalmatian and his coffee break. Administrative offices have a built-in break (marenda) in the daily schedule, and officials head out to the local cafes for a relaxing coffee and gossip.
The most typical coffee ordered is an espresso, which can turn into a duga kava (long coffee) with the addition of more hot water. A coffee will usually be accompanied by a glass of tap water and sometimes a small biscuit, and it is not unusual for a coffee to be nursed for more than an hour. Cappuccinos are also very popular.
Tea is also a popular drink, but English tourists expecting a British equivalent are in for a surprise. A simple order for tea will result in a fruity variety -- mint, pomegranate or fruits of the forest -- with honey rather than milk offered as an accompaniment. The closest to the British cuppa is indiski cai s mlijekom (Indian tea with milk).
Award-Winning Wine, Wine With Water and Ice in the Red
Hvar has a long tradition of wine production, and the island, along with the rest of Dalmatia, suffered terribly from the devastating effects of phylloxera in the early 20th century, which led to mass emigration. The wines of Hvar are once more making a resurgence, with award-winning products from producers such as Andro Tomic winning awards in international competitions. Although it is possible to find wines from outside the region in supermarkets, the selection is very limited.
There is plenty of domestic wine available for tasting and purchase in the various hillside villages on Hvar, and while the quality may vary, the strong conviction from each producer that his wine is the best remains a constant. Two popular local drinks are bevanda, a mixture of water and table wine (red or white), and gemischt, white wine and sparkling water, both of which can be ordered at cafes. It is not uncommon to have red wine served cold, or even with ice.
Meet the Rakija Family: Turning Berries Into Fire Water
Be careful! Some of this stuff is strong. A typical act at the end of a restaurant meal is a complimentary glass of the hard stuff on the house. While some of these schnapps-like liqueurs are delicious, quality does vary enormously, especially when one wanders off into the realms of homemade rakijas. They can be flavoursome, however, with typical ingredients including figs, walnuts and even olives.
Beers and Cocktails
Local beers are in plentiful supply and extremely good. The most popular Croatian brands are Karlovacko and Ozusko, while Lasko from Slovenia is also prevalent. There is a wider selection of bottled beer, including established brands, which tend to come in 0.33l bottles. Draught beers are served in 0.2, 0.3 and 0.5l glasses.
There are numerous cocktail bars on the island, the most famous of which is Carpe Diem in Hvar Town, with its stunning quayside location and celebrity pull.
Water and Other Nonalcoholic Drinks
Tap water is safe to drink, as is the water that comes from public fountains, but there is ample bottled water as well, with several locally produced brands, as well as Jamnica sparkling water. It is acceptable to request a glass of tap water with a coffee. Soft drinks are relatively expensive by comparison, with a 0.25l of Coke costing about 14 kuna in a cafe. Some cafes serve natural juices (prirodna), but this is not the norm.