WHICH ARE THE BALKAN MEDALISTS IN THE WORLD COMPETITION SPIRITS SELECTION?
Reading time: 3 min
I got the answer to this question with the greatest pleasure on a rakia dedicated workshop, led by Svetlio and Gerry, the people behind the well-known rakiashop.eu, which took place Bar Sputnik. Also, there I learned what baijiu and soju were. If you do not know what they are, read further this review- I have hidden the explanation somewhere in the text. 😊
If you are not aware, rakia is the brandy that is prepared in the Balkans. Later in the text you will see an explanation of the difference between rakia and brandy.
Now I have the pleasure to tell you again about an event that completely covers the four criteria of a memorable experience, according to the Experience Economy by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore[i]. It says that,
……. the most significant for the client experiences are those that are all at once entertaining, aesthetic, educational and escapist.
You can read more about this theory in my posts What is Experience Economy and where can you find best examples in Bulgaria? as well as The Experience Economy in action with the cooking class of Chef Heinz von Holzen on Bali- Part 2
I regularly visit the workshops of Svetlio and Gerry and of course every time we have great time. You can read about them in my review RAKIA WORKSHOP IN RAKIA RAKETA BAR, SOFIA, BULGARIA
This time, however, the workshop was not like the others, because we celebrated the medalists from the Balkans, which impressed a super demanding jury at the world competition for liquor –Spirits Selection. How we celebrated them? Naturally by tasting them. The winners were as follows:
- Quince rakia Zlatna Dolina, Serbia
- Apricot rakia from Hubert, Serbia
- Raketa Single Barrel, Bulgaria
- Brandy Preslav, harvest 1975 from Vinex, Preslav, Bulgaria
- Brandy Great Preslav, 50 years old, from Vinex Preslav, Bulgaria
- Matured Plum rakia Kralitza, from Zarich, Serbia
The list is not full, there are a few more medalists.
In short, I would describe the experience of this medalists dedicated workshop as an extravaganza of aromas, soft warmth and colors.
Analyzed through the Experience Economy diagram, my story looks like this:
The workshop was an entertaining experience, because apart from tasting super-high-class drinks, we exchanged jokes, banter, information with the other students. We didn’t know each other, but we were communicating as if we were friends. All this was due to the predisposing and informal style of contact of the two lecturers. And we ate very delicious appetizers, which were specially combined with the rakias. By the way, the appetizer for the drinks made by Bai Dancho, the chef of the neighboring restaurant Raketa Rakia, as always was remarkable. An interesting fact is that the menu pared to the rakia shop is always better than the dishes in Raketa Rakia which are cooked by the same chef.
It was an aesthetic experience, because we enjoyed the super-cozy interior of the Sputnik bar, with these patches of carpets on the walls, cool lighting, the beautiful presentation of Bai Danchos’s colorful tapas, served on a black plate, the soft amber tones of aged brandies.
The event was, as always, very interesting and educational. Svetlio reminded us again how to taste brandy, which is different from wine tasting. He explained what the Spirits Selection competition had been and why having medalists from Bulgaria and Serbia, the only Balkan countries represented in the competition, had been a very big achievement. An exceptionally large quantity of drinks from all over the world and of very high quality are competing for medals there. We learned that the most consumed hard liquor globally was baijiu. The latter is a spirit traditionally produced in China. On second place was soju, which was a traditional liquor drink for Korea. And here I already answered the question at the beginning. 😊 In the third place is Brasilian cachaca and then the vodka.
The Balkan rakias participated in a category of brandies in fierce competition with other representatives which bottles reach sometimes a cost of tens of thousands of euros, while our most expensive drink, 50-year-old Veliki Preslav is circa EUR 250.
Svetljo told us what the difference between rakia and brandy was. The first one bears the aroma of the fruits from which it is made and does not mature much. The second can age quite long in the barrel and because of this maturing the fruity notes are lost, giving way to the oak vanilla and sweet notes.
This is seen very clearly also in the color difference. The oak paints the drink and it acquires a dark-amber color. Unfortunately, in Bar Sputnik there wasn’t much light in the beginning and it is evident from the video here, which became dark and unclear. Then we asked to enhance the lighting to better see the color of the drinks.
Movie watching time: 0:59
The rakia workshop dedicated to the Spirits Selection medalists was a detachment from reality, or escapist, as Pine and Gilmore called it, because within 2 hours we participated actively in the performance, given by Svetlio and Gerry and the staff of Bar Sputnik. We asked questions, tasted, we cheered and smiled a lot, for intelligible reasons and finally thanked with applause the lecturers as the audience in a theater after a good spectacle.
I couldn’t leave without trying the super cool and original cocktails at Bar Sputnik. And because I had to support them with food, I tried the sandwiches from their menu. Turns out they’re really delicious, even tastier than the dishes in the neighboring restaurant. I almost forgot to photograph them. That’s why the plates in the photos are half-empty. 😋😜
If you are not from Sofia and you come just for a business trip, party or especially for the Rakia Workshop in Bar Sputnik, I recommend that you book your stay right here .For your convenience, I added a booking.com box, which refers directly to their site. I guarantee you’re going to use all your genius discounts and privileges they would offer to you. Just enter the dates of your trip, then hit the Search button and voila. In addition, booking.com are doing their best to make sure that your expectations as a customer are fulfilled. I’ve described an example about the latter in my story about our stay in Shangri-La hotel in Singapore .
Don’t worry about getting to Bar Sputnik in Sofia. Just use the Google map here by clicking on the red pin of its location and then select directions:
A: 17 “Yanko Sakazov” bul, 1527 Sofia Center, Sofia
T: + 359 88 498 2098
Open hours: 11:00- 02:00
If you need a rent-a-car, you can book one here in the box of the biggest booking platform, although, in Plovdiv, I recommend you to walk around the center and the old town.
Are you looking for info on good restaurants, hotels and any nice places around the world and in our country? Then dig into the categories of placescases.com to find something just for you.
Do you ever wonder how some places are so very different from others in service, environment, as a general experience? This means you are also interested like me in the topic of The Experience Economy by Pine and Gilmore. I’ve tried to recognize those places which apply it in practice its principles, whether deliberately or accidentally, and I think it is worth to consider them. Right click on category The Experience Economy.
[i] The Experience Economy, updated edition, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, Massachusetts, by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore