Vruca Rakija (Serbian Hot Brandy) Recipe

Serbian hot brandy recipe

The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic

Prep: 0 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
127 Calories
0g Fat
17g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 127
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 1mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Serbian Christmas Eve or badnje vece wouldn't be the same without an alcoholic drink known as vruca rakija (where vruca means "hot" and rakija means "brandy"), often referred to simply as rakija (rrah-kee-yah) or rakia.  Rakija is typically as clear as water and drunk at room temperature or cold but, when simmered with caramelized sugar and water to become a potent hot drink (vruca rakija) for Christmas Eve, it develops an amber color. 

Every family and church group has its closely guarded recipe. After the traditional Christmas Eve vespers service and Yule log or badnjak burning, a great meatless meal is enjoyed by the faithful with a sip of vruca rakija.

Rakija is a powerful brandy made from the distillation of almost any fermented fruit each with its own specific rakija name. Slivovica (plum rakija) is the most popular and the strongest and is used to make vruca rakija. But you can find apricot, peach, grape, fig, quince, and even juniper. Each has its own flavor that can be subtle or in your face. Rakija is to South Slavs as vodka is to Poles or Russians. It’s especially popular in Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro, and it's creeping its way into the hearts of non-Slavic nations like Romania, Albania, and others.

The best rakija is homemade. Serbians take great pride in making their own and, we can attest, it's far superior to bottled rakija which often contains preservatives. If you want to try the real thing, get your hands on a batch of homemade hooch.

The alcohol content is typically 50 to 80 percent but many like to produce it as high as 90 percent. After a night of drinking rakija or other potent potables, many Serbians swear by a strong cup of Turkish coffee. But burek and a cold glass of kefir also are hangover cures


  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups plum brandy, slivovitz

  • 3 cups water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Serbian hot brandy
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  2. In a medium, heavy-bottomed stainless-steel pot, sprinkle in the sugar. Allow the sugar to melt, stirring occasionally, until it is completely liquid and a nice brown color, watching it constantly.

    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  3. When brown and caramelized, but not burned, immediately remove from heat and carefully add the slivovitz and water.

    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  4. Return to heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil and the sugar is completely melted.

    Return to heat
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  5. Be careful that this does not boil over. It requires constant watching.

  6. Serve hot and enjoy!

    Serve hot
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic