Hot or cold, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, there is a drink for every taste and occasion waiting for you in Istanbul. Some of them, like Turkish coffee and tea, may appear and sound similar, but they will have a unique Turkish twist. Some of them will be familiar, while others are certain to be fresh and exciting. Ayran, boza, and other juices are among the examples. When it comes to alcoholic beverages, rak is the clear winner, followed by beers and wines produced and sold in local bottle shops. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the best drinks in Istanbul.
Espresso and Chai
Tea (çay) is the city’s most popular beverage, and it’s often consumed out of little tulip-shaped cups. Turks drink it first thing in the morning and then throughout the day. The stores, bazaars, banks, and government buildings all have it for sale. And what about the Turkish coffee (Türk kahvesi) they’re so well known for? It is popular in the area, and people often drink it at lunchtime and after dinner.
- Almost as frequently as they drink their coffee black, locals sip their black tea straight up. In any case, it’s likely that this will be too “strong” for you. If you’re not sure how sweet you want your tea, try starting with the milder açk çay and working up from there. You will get strange looks if you ask for milk somewhere else than a tourist hotel or restaurant.
- Apple tea – This isn’t something you can drink there, but it is marketed to travellers to take home.
- Coffee in Turkey is often served black and strong, with the amount of sugar requested indicated by the adjectives “small” (az), “medium” (orta), and “a lot” (çok şekerli). It just takes a few quick drinks to finish the whole thing. To avoid ingesting the grounds that settle to the bottom of your cup, remember to call it a day when it’s time. Read up on the best methods for preparing Turkish coffee at home if you’d want to try your hand at making some.
And Other Soda Pops and Fruit Juices
- Water – As we indicated in our health advice, you shouldn’t drink the water straight from the faucet. Mineral water in bottles is readily available and inexpensive. Bear in mind that vendors dressed in flamboyant traditional garb offer beverages made with tap water (in the area around the Blue Mosque).
- Ayran is liquid yoghurt produced by whipping yoghurt and then adding water and salt. Don’t save it for later; it’s best eaten straight away when still cold and fresh. It may be purchased either freshly brewed in cafes and restaurants or pre-made in disposable plastic cups from stores.
- Boza is a popular local beverage that is fermented using bulgur, water, and sugar. The claims that it increases stamina and virility have yet to be corroborated by any credible scientific study.
- When you can have a healthy, delicious fruit or vegetable juice made for you right at the local corner store (büfe), there’s really no need to purchase and drink the bottled kind. Juices such as orange (portakal suyu), cherry (vişne suyu), and trunip (şalgam suyu) are widely consumed. You must have salep, a hot drink prepared from crushed tapioca root extracts, if you visit Istanbul in the winter.
Drinks with alcohol
Despite being a Muslim nation, Turks (especially the males) enjoy a good drink with friends. Most people would agree that rak is the most popular alcoholic drink, with beer (bira) coming in as a close second. Wine produced in Turkey accounts for a respectable one-third of the total.
- Rak is a potent, clear, anise-flavored alcohol that has some similarities with Greek ouzo and French pastis. Typically, rak is consumed by adding cold water and ice cubes (in that sequence), which causes it to take on a chalky white hue. That’s why you sometimes hear it referred to as “lion’s milk.” Yeni, Efe, and Tekirda are the three most widely consumed brands. Raki is often enjoyed with local dishes like mezes and seafood.
- When it comes to beer in Turkey, Efes Pilsen is hands down the best option. It’s about time, too. You may get this light, flavourless pilsener in bottles, cans, or straight from the tap. The waiter or bartender will inquire what size you would like while placing your order. Large (75cl) and extra-large (330cl) are the two most popular sizes (50cl). Gusta is a great wheat beer option. Similar to Efes, it is brewed by the same business. Only Tuborg, Corona, Beck’s, and Heineken are widely available among imported beers.
- Wine – The wine industry in Turkey is thriving, so there are plenty of options for local wines. And a small number of vineyards make wine that is on par with the best that France has to offer. Corvus, Kayra Vintage, and Sarafin are three of our favourite wines right now.