Wine&more Team

What to drink on summer holidays in Croatia? Do it as locals

Croatian Summer Drinks AnimationCroatian summer drinks combined with a delightful sensory experience of a holiday in Croatia, provide both refreshment and nourishment. As we wander the sun-drenched Adriatic coast or explore the historic towns, the local drinks become an integral part of our cultural immersion. Croatian summer beverages, ranging from herbal-infused spirits to fruity wines, reflect the country’s rich heritage and the joy of its seasons.

In our cafés and along the pebbly beaches, we find ourselves reaching for a glass of something chilled – perhaps a spritz made with local Maraschino liqueur or a refreshing gemišt, a simple yet thirst-quenching traditional mix of white wine and sparkling water.

We understand the importance of toasting to health and happiness with families and friends, hence rakija, an aromatic brandy typically homemade from fruits like plums or grapes, finds its place at the heart of social gatherings. This spirit and the flavors in Croatian summer drinks tell a story as captivating as the country itself, inviting us to sip and savor every drop of the season.

The Culture of Drinking in Croatia

In Croatia, sharing a drink is both a cherished tradition and a vibrant part of our culture, reflecting centuries of history from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Historical Overview

Traditionally, we Croatians have celebrated wine-making as an integral part of our cultural identity. Dating back to the Greeks and Romans, who first introduced viniculture to the region, we’ve nurtured vineyards across the Dalmatian Coast, Istria region, and the continental parts of the country. 

Winemaking in Croatia is a storied practice, carrying on and blossoming with the indigenous varieties and richness of flavors we cherish today. Notable native grape varieties like Plavac Mali, Graševina, and Malvazija have placed Croatian wines on the map.

Cultural Significance


Drinking in Croatia is more than just consumption; it’s a ritual binding us together. We place great importance on socializing around a table filled with friends, family, and an array of beverages that signify our unity. Tables often feature:

  • Rakija: A fruit brandy we commonly indulge in as an aperitif.
  • Beers: From local breweries with distinct Croatian character.
  • Wines: Many of which follow traditional practices passed through generations.

We celebrate festivals and holidays where drinks like Prošek, a sweet dessert wine, punctuate the joyous moments. Communal gatherings reinforce our age-old belief that sharing a glass solidifies relationships and keeps our traditions alive.

Yet, no birthdays, anniversaries, or other celebrations are necessary as we need no excuse to simply enjoy our time. A time for relaxing during a summer holiday, or during a business lunch, drinking is customary and culturally conditioned. Drinking does not mean overconsumption. On the contrary, drinks are part of the dining experience, not intoxication.

Popular Local Summer Beverages in Croatia

As we venture through the warm Croatian summer, let’s immerse ourselves in the local beverage culture, which is rich with delightful wines, beers, and spirits perfect for the season.

Croatian Wines

Croatian-Summer-Drinks-Graševina-by-the-poolCroatia’s wine heritage is all about diversity. Yet, there are many similar customs for enjoying the summer season. Summer wine in Croatia is more than a local tradition. Local food with local wine is a combination that simply works. And that is the case in every country with a winemaking tradition, especially Croatia.

Notably, red wine aficionados must try Plavac Mali, a robust variety with deep roots in the coastal regions. Meanwhile, white wine enthusiasts can savor the Graševina, Malvazija, or Pošip, both offering a refreshing zest.

  • Plavac Mali: Full-bodied red, often tannic
  • Graševina: The most important Croatian variety
  • Malvazija: Aromatic white, primarily from Istria
  • Pošip: Full-flavored white, originating from Korčula island in Dalmatia

Croatia offers many light-bodied refreshing summer whites made out of indigenous varieties, such as:

  • Žlahtina
  • Kraljevina
  • Debit
  • Kujundžuša

These varieties are known to be ideal for making light-bodied, low-alcohol white wines. However, plenty of different Graševina, Malvazija, and Pošip wines are made as refreshing whites. That includes varieties traditionally known for more powerful and aromatic whites, such as:

  • Grk
  • Maraština
  • Vugava

All of these different varieties are often made in a lighter style, with an almost playful character, making it a perfect companion for seafood and summer salads.


Graševina, known as the king of Croatian continental wines, is cherished for its versatility and pleasant refreshing quality. This grape variety is predominant in the regions of Slavonia and Danube, where it’s often enjoyed alongside light summer dishes. But it is also essential in Croatian Uplands, a region historically inclined toward Graševina.

Although Graševina can be made in any style from sparkling to dessert wine, it is mostly appreciated as a refreshing dry white wine.

A perfect example is one of the Croatian bestsellers – Trs No5, a 100% Graševina made by Enosophia winery in Slavonia.Croatian-Summer-Drinks-TrsNo5-sea-view

Crafted with meticulous attention, Trs No5 Graševina undergoes a carefully managed process. Sedimentation precedes a 12-day fermentation period at a controlled 16°C, encompassing both alcohol and malolactic fermentation. Following this, the wine matures gracefully for four months on fine yeast sediment, receiving intermittent stirring for refinement.

The result is a wine of enduring elegance and purity. Its aroma profile boasts fruity notes interwoven with the gentle fragrance of white acacia flowers, offering a delightful sensory experience that celebrates the essence of freshness and vitality. A gentle freshness permeates the wine, infusing it with vibrancy and a sense of lightness.

If the same meticulous approach is applied to the best Graševina grapes, this can result in an even more structured white wine. The Beef’s Head (Goveđa Glava Graševina) is the perfect example. 

Grapes are hand-harvested from a 33-year-old vineyard, reaching full phenological maturity without a hint of late-harvest elements. They undergo a delicate process, beginning with a six-day maceration at a gentle 20°C (68°F), followed by pressing and complete fermentation in 1000L wooden barrels crafted from Slavonic oak, accompanied by malolactic fermentation.

Post-fermentation, the wine rests on its lees without sulfur additions, receiving tender stirring. 30% of the wine transitions to barrique barrels, where it matures gracefully for six months before bottling. Nearly two years in the bottle allow the wine to evolve and mature further before its debut on the market.

The resulting wine is a testament to elegance, boasting a rounded, lively character accentuated by distinct notes of stone and candied fruit. This Graševina is curated for moments of indulgence, pairing seamlessly with smoked fish, aged cheeses, and a medley of nuts.

Croatian Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines in Croatia are gaining international recognition, with an array of options and more producers engaging in the sparkling winemaking process. These effervescent beverages serve as celebratory drinks or as an ideal refreshment during the Croatian summer.

Of course, some Croatian sparkling wines are perfectly suited to accompany the entire dinner. Much depends on the grapes used, but also on the technique.Croatian-Summer-Drinks-Today-Rose

For example, Graševina can be excellent as a Charmat method (Prosecco method) sparkling wine, or as a traditional method (Champenoise) sparkling wine. 

Earlier Harvested Graševina have higher acidity and lower sugar. It is ideal for making base wine. After pressing, fermentation is started lasting for a maximum of 14 days at 16 °C. After fermentation wine is preserved in fine yeast sediment with stirring once to twice a week till the end of November.

After that period, secondary fermentation starts in special (Autoclave) tanks for production by the Charmat method. Secondary fermentation also lasts for a maximum of 14 days at 16 °C. 

Today Blanc is the epitome of freshness! A palate cleanser that lasts longer than expected, bringing forward apple and lime fruitiness. Very clean and with just the right kind of tension that keeps you relaxed in the shade by the pool.

Local Beer Landscape

Croatian-Summer-Drinks-Beach-BeerOur local beer landscape is vibrant, with the likes of Osječko and Karlovačko paving the way. These lagers are among Croatia’s oldest beers, and with a number of craft breweries emerging, we have a thriving scene that complements any summer adventure.

In the matter of fact, beers are the most accepted refreshments during Croatian summer months, and no wine comes close. 

All styles of beer are present, but the traditional lager style is still prevailing.

Croatian Spirits and Liqueurs

Traditionally, rakija is our celebrated spirit, derived from various fruits like plums (šljivovica), grapes (lozovača), and herbs (travarica). These powerful spirits, often homemade, capture the essence of Croatian hospitality and warmth:

  • Rakija: Distilled spirit with a high alcohol content. Mostly made from plum or grapes, but also from pear, quince, peach, apricot…
  • Travarica: Herbal rakija, typically enjoyed as a digestive.
  • Pelinkovac: A Croatian bitter, traditional liqueur made with an infusion of wormwood herb.

Summer Cocktails and Mixed Drinks

Croatian-Summer-Drinks-Gin-TonicDuring summer, we indulge in a range of cocktails and mixed drinks that frequently incorporate local spirits. Due to the popularity of mixed drinks such as gin tonic or vodka-based cocktails, more and more quality Croatian-made gins and vodka are being produced.

These beverages are not only refreshing but also an integral part of our modern drinking culture as we embrace global trends with a Croatian twist.

Popular Non-Alcoholic Drinks

In Croatia, we cherish our coffee culture and have a variety of beloved soft drinks that reflect our tastes and traditions.

Coffee Tradition in Croatia

Croatian-Summer-Drinks-coffee-with-a-viewWe take our coffee seriously, and it’s more than just a drink—it’s a leisurely pastime. Enjoying a coffee in Croatia often means a prolonged affair, where we savor and socialize. From the bustling streets of Zagreb to the Adriatic coast, you’ll find us at all hours indulging in our favored ritual. One can’t walk past a café without noticing the omnipresent scent of freshly brewed espresso, which is the go-to for most of us here.

Popular Croatian Soft Drinks

We also have a penchant for local soft drinks that are a staple in every household. 

  • Jamnica, sparkling mineral water, is a refreshing choice, particularly during the warm summer months. It is not only enjoyed on its own but often serves as a mixer in various beverages. One of the most notorious is the legendary “gemišt”.
  • Cedevita is traditionally the first that comes to mind as a hydrating refreshment in warm weather. Because of its balanced taste, it is a miracle that more children did not get hypervitaminosis from overconsumption.
  • Pipi is another Croatian favorite, a tangy orange-flavored soda that brings back childhood memories for many of us. Its vibrant taste and nostalgic appeal make it an indispensable part of our summer refreshment repertoire. Think of the famous Fanta, only better 🙂
Soft Drink Description Why We Love It
Jamnica Sparkling mineral water Refreshing, versatile
Cedevita Powdered vitamin drink Hydrating and refreshing
Pipi Orange-flavored soda Tangy, reminiscent of summer

Croatian-Summer-Drinks-Jamnica-sparkling-waterOur thirst for these non-alcoholic drinks is not only about staying hydrated but also about keeping our traditions alive and bonding over shared tastes. Whether you’re grabbing a quick espresso or sipping on a cold Jamnica, these beverages are an integral part of our summer experience.

The Role of Beverages in Croatian Cuisine

Croatian peka

In Croatia, beverages are not just a thirst-quencher; they are an integral part of our culinary tradition. Our tables are often adorned with drinks that complement the rich flavors of Croatian dishes.

Traditional Pairings:

  • Peka: We typically enjoy hearty red wines that can stand up to the robust flavors of meats cooked under the bell-like dome of the peka. Rubi Fusion wine is ideal to counter the greasiness of peka and add aromas to every succulent bite.
  • Sarma: A glass of full-bodied white wine (Traminac) or a lighter red (Frankovka) pairs beautifully with this savory dish of stuffed cabbage leaves.
  • Ajvar: This flavorful spread made from peppers is almost a side dish, and it complements white wines or a crisp beer.
  • Pršut: If not too smoked or aged, then a sparkling wine will accompany it beautifully. Our suggestion is Enosophia Rose Sparkling wine. If “pršut” is aged for two years or more, then a medium-bodied aromatic red wine, such as Lingua Franka is the best pair.
  • Štrukli: This beloved Croatian dish is made of dough and filled with cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, and butter. A savory pastry such as štrukli deserves a richer wine with balanced acidity. However, a touch of sparkle could be welcome. Sounds like the time for Memoria, a classic method wine from the Riesling variety, ripe and backboned.
Croatian Delicacy Beverage Suggestion
Peka Robust of Fruity Red Wines
Sarma Lighter Red/White Wines
Ajvar Crisp Beer/White Wines
Pršut Sparkling or a rose, or a balanced red
Štrukli Structured aromatic white or classic method sparkling wine

Beverages and food in Croatia weave a tale of regional diversity and tradition. We invite others to explore the nuances of our cuisine through the harmonious pairings of our foods and beverages.

Croatian strukli

Croatian Drinks in Social Context

In Croatia, drinks are more than just a thirst quencher; they’re central to social bonding and cultural traditions. Check out how these beverages fit into everyday life and special celebrations, as well as the vibrant café and bar scene.

From Everyday Life to Special Occasions

In our daily lives, coffee takes a special place. The morning routine often involves a leisurely ‘kava’ at a local café, reflecting the importance of relaxation and social interaction. It’s customary for us to enjoy prolonged coffee-drinking sessions where catching up with friends and family is just as important as the drink itself.

When it comes to special occasions, the variety of alcohol we offer becomes wider. A toast with a crisp glass of ‘živjeli!’—our way of saying ‘cheers’—is integral to celebrations, whether it’s with homemade rakija, a fine wine, or a refreshing beer. Our social gatherings, especially during the summer months, often blend traditional drinks and modern cocktails, revealing a harmony between respect for tradition and contemporary lifestyles.Croatian-Summer-Drinks-Matarouge-Rose

The Café and Bar Scene

The café culture in Croatia is renowned. Cities like Zagreb and Split buzz with the energy of numerous cafes that spill onto the streets, where the air is often filled with chatter over coffee cups. Tables are rarely empty; coffee is sipped, politics discussed, and relationships fostered. In the evening, these spaces transition seamlessly into nightlife hotspots.

The bar scene is equally dynamic, especially in summertime destinations like The Garden in Zadar. Here, we mingle against the backdrop of the Adriatic Sea. Drink menus usually boast a variety of beers, from popular lagers to domestic craft ales. The atmosphere is laid-back and friendly, reflective of the Croatian spirit. These settings are not just about drinking; they are pillars of our social structure, where relationships are forged and memories created over glasses clinking in unison.Croatian-Summer-Drinks-Dubrovnik-Restaurant

International Influences and Fusion

As we explore Croatian summer drinks, it’s clear how global interactions have woven intricate flavors into our local traditions.

Melding Traditions

The marriage between Croatian and other cultures’ tastes creates a unique palate. 

We cherish our gemišt, a spritzer often made with white wine and Jamnica mineral water, but don’t be surprised to find versions that nod to Italian prosecco, enriched with local herbs.

traditional “gemišt”, Credits: Jamnica

Contemporary Trends in the Drink Scene

We’re seeing a renaissance in our bars where classic cocktails are reborn with distinctive Croatian elements. The Italian Negroni has inspired us to create variants using our own herbal liqueurs like Pelinkovac. It’s exciting to observe real users, locals, and tourists alike, relishing these fusion creations. Our bartenders are weaving Croatian stories into every glass, whether through the presentation or by infusing traditional flavors, making every sip an encounter with both history and innovation

Tips for drinking like a local in Croatia

When touring along the beautiful Dalmatian Coast, we’re enveloped by crystal clear waters and an array of excellent local foods that pair wonderfully with Croatia’s refreshing beverages.

Beachside Sips: Opt for “Bevanda“: We blend wine (in this case red wine) with still water, a perfect beachside refresher. Savoring a bevanda means keeping pace with the laid-back coastal vibe. The good news is it’s becoming more popular again, after a long time it was considered obsolete. 

Embrace “Gemišt” everywhere any way you like it: We often choose gemišt on a hot summer day, a mix of white wine and sparkling water. It’s light, effervescent, and even complements seafood dishes. Join the ongoing and neverending debate about which varietal wine is best suited for this ever-popular mix. Best to start with a half wine to half sparkling water ratio. 

Authentic Flavors:

  • We indulge in “Rakija” with locals, Croatia’s beloved spirit. Sipping this strong drink is a rite of passage, and it usually comes before or after our meal.
  • Taste “Maraschino”—a sweet cherry liqueur originated from Zadar, Dalmatia. Its unique flavor pairs well with desserts.

Local Customs:

Do Don’t
Do clink glasses and maintain eye contact during toasts. It’s a sign of respect. Don’t refuse a drink offered by a local— it’s seen as dismissive.
Do pace yourself. We relish our drinks and the company we’re with over a long meal. Don’t race to finish your drink. No one’s in a hurry here.

Where to Enjoy:

  • Cafes and Konobas: We love our local taverns and cafes. Find a seat, order a “kava” (coffee) and watch the world go by. Aim to strike up a conversation with the person next to you.
  • At a “Fešta”: During local festivals, dive into the communal energy. We celebrate with traditional food, drink, and dance.

Croatian-Summer-Drinks-sea-portBut don’t forget – Croatian wine is increasingly acclaimed by international juries. It would be a miss not to sample as much of the fine Croatian wine taste as you can. That is increasingly true for exploding quality sparkling wines made in Croatia.

By becoming aware of these nuances, we immerse ourselves in Croatia’s rich drinking culture, ensuring our experience is as authentic and enjoyable as it can get. Cheers or as we say, “Živjeli”!

Frequently asked questions

In this section, we’ll cover some common curiosities about Croatian summer refreshments that are perfect for anyone looking to enjoy the local flavors.

What is the popular drink in Croatia?

Croatian summers are best enjoyed with a chilled glass of local favorite, Bevanda. It’s a simple yet delightful drink that combines wine with still or sparkling water. On TasteAtlas, you’ll find Bevanda highly ranked among Croatian drinks. Moreover, it’s a drink that showcases our nationalist pride, offering a taste of tradition in every sip.

Our recommendation for Croatian summer would be either a Croatian sparkling wine or a light-bodied white wine, especially from Graševina variety. Graševina is by far the most important variety in Croatia.Croatian-Summer-Drinks-TrsNo5

Which alcohol is best in the summer season?

During the warm, sunny months, we don’t recommend sipping on high-alcohol spirits. Forget the rakija and indulge in a rose wine, sparkling or dry, or some refreshing white wine.

Beer is also customary, but there are numerous wines that offer different taste experiences suited to laid-back summer vibes.

Which wine is best in summer?

For wine lovers, the Croatian summer spells out the perfect time for a glass of crisp and cool white wine. Here’s a brief guide:

Wine Type Description Ideal Pairing
Pošip Fuller-bodied with notes of herbs Seafood and light pasta dishes
Malvazija Aromatic and mineral Sea fish and salads
Graševina Fresh and fruity, with a pleasant freshness Cold appetizers

These wines are just what we need to beat the heat and fully enjoy our summer feasts.

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