Every country in Europe that produces wine also does a version of pomace brandy.
Distilled from the skins, stems, pulp and seeds leftover from when grapes are crushed to extract juice, pomace brandy is probably best known in its Italian form, grappa. In Greece, it’s commonly known as tsipouro but it’s sometimes called raki and, on Crete, is known as tsikoudia.
Crete is also famed for its wild, thyme-flavoured honey and the locals have created a version of tsikoudia flavoured with honey and cinnamon, and it’s called rakomelo.
It’s a beautiful drink, fairly hefty with alcohol (around 30 per cent ABV), but gentle in approach, slightly sweet with the aromatic waft of cinnamon making it very comforting. It’s mostly served chilled or at room temperature, but can be heated so it becomes like a hot toddy. It’s an excellent digestive.
The best place to try rakomelo in Melbourne is at the bar at Elyros, the Cretan restaurant in Camberwell owned by the folk from Carlton’s Epocha. Elyros sources good-quality tsikoudia from a monastery in eastern Crete and flavour it themselves.
Elyros also does a couple of cocktails using rakomelo. The Elyros champagne cocktail is a delicious and refreshing mixture of rakomelo, sparkling wine and Angostura bitters, garnished with a sprig of fresh thyme. It goes very well with the Cretan meze served in the bar.
- Elyros \ 871 Burke Road, Camberwell. 9882 8877