A lot of people who visit Croatia enjoy the country’s renowned wine scene, but some other alcoholic beverages are also available to one’s tasting. Liqueurs of Gorski Kotar, for example, are strong drinks made by distilling spirit flavored with herbs and spices. In addition of being tasty and often serving as a perfect appetizer, the beverage is beneficial to digestion.
In order to learn more about these unique herbal liquids, we went to the small village of Lokve, situated in the heart of Gorski Kotar region. There, we found Vid and Mira Arbanas, a couple running ‘Nature House Kotac’, a site where nature and modern life connect in almost mystical way.
“For the last seventeen years, my wife and I passionately research and harvest the local herbs. In 2003, we begun to produce our very own drinks made from Gorski Kotar flora,” Arbanas explains. “Our most notable product is a liqueur called San Hubert, named after the patron saint of hunters.”
The base of this drink is a strong spirit of malvasia, combined with no less than 57 hand-picked plants and seven kinds of forest fruit. “People usually make a mistake of quickly drinking their appetizers before a meal. But those who know better drink it slowly, about five minutes before beginning of dining.”
Vid also notes that bitter appetizers are best introduction to having a meal. “This taste will encourage your digestion’s juices, and the stomach will prepare for digestion.”
Another popular digestive coming from Kotac Nature House is called Papra. It is a spirit of muscat grape, combined with 14 kinds of mountain herbs, as well as four different roots. Three of them are quite known, yet the fourth one is Vid’s secret. “The nectar should not be iced, and is supposed to be drunk in a very specific way. You take a sip, but don’t swallow it. Just keep it in your mouth for a few seconds before that and wait for two minutes. Something unique will happen to your senses,” Vid explains with a giggle.
“The nature is one’s best teacher and nutritioner. You should always have it as a company in your life. You should explore it, research it and embrace its knowledge. The nature will provide you not just with necessities, but with assets for leisure and relaxation.”
Surely, there is nothing better than a product with nature’s very own design, and liqueurs of Gorski Kotar are among the best ones on the market. Be sure to try some of them during your stay in Croatia, especially if you venture into the mountainous Region of Lika.
Photo: Berislava Picek / CROPIX