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Raksi is strong.

A quick little story about drinking random stuff

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Raksi is a traditional Nepalese/Tibetan spirit made from distilled rice, kodo, or millet, enjoyed during religious ceremonies, but also consumed by the general public as they wish. Whilst trekking in Nepal, I’ve come across this drink many times, but only in Shika (pronounced see-kuh), a stop along the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, did I decide to try it.
It had been a long day of trekking, and Nathaniel and I were in a really nice little teahouse. There was a speaker, which Nathaniel played his music out of, the food was delicious, we had just bought a new supply of snacks (Snickers, Digestives, HobbNobbs, Twix, & a jar of peanut butter); we were in really wonderful moods, so on a whim, we decided to enjoy a glass of raksi to celebrate the completion of the Annapurna Circuit and the start of a new trek.
We ordered two glasses of the stuff, described (on the menu and through word of mouth) as “local wine.”
The teahouse owner brought out two glasses of clear liquid (our first warning) out, which Nathaniel and I raised, then smelled. It smelled strong (second warning)… But it was just local wine, so it couldn’t be too strong, right?
We clinked our glasses and tasted it. It burned when we sipped it, but it wasn’t unbearable. It even makes CNN’s “Top 50 drinks of the World” list. Even so, it wasn’t necessarily enjoyable, as there wasn’t a super strong flavor besides the alcohol (third warning). Then again, I’m no raksi connoisseur, so I don’t really know what taste you’re supposed to get.
I didn’t want to waste it, but I also didn’t really want to sip on it, either, so what did I do? I chugged it. The entire glass, gone in one loooOOOoong sip. Was that the smartest thing to do? Probably not. No, most definitely not.
Aaannnnd what did Nathaniel and I do after our glasses were finished?
Not the smart thing. We ordered another round. The teahouse owner came ‘round with a 2L plastic Coke bottle filled with the stuff and poured more into our glasses.
We were going to sip on the drinks until Nathaniel and I played odds, and I, of course, lost.
So I chugged the second glass.
I kid you not, less than ten minutes later, I was slumped over on the table. I was sleepy and feeling just slightly nauseous, so I lifted my head up from the table and told Nathaniel, “I think need to go to bed now.”
I stumbled up the stairs and then Nathaniel and I talked while I laid down. I left all packing up for the next morning, as I just could NOT have been bothered in that moment.
Apparently we were talking and I just fell asleep mid-sentence. On the bright side, best night’s sleep of the trek!!!!
Needless to say, I did not feel good trekking the next day.
Nathaniel felt worse. Although he wasn’t feeling the dwindling aftermath of drinking two cups of a strong spirit, the raksi was not so easy on his stomach.
We decided we were done with local wine.

Moral of the story: Don’t drink a lot. Especially if it’s something you don’t know well. Or homemade. I just learned that raksi is comparable to vodka, whiskey, gin, sake, and moonshine. MOONSHINE.
I’m not saying to avoid drinking local drinks! Do it! Enjoy local culture and immerse yourself in it! Just don’t drink two glasses of questionable alcohol at an unreasonably fast pace or you’ll be sad. Especially if you’re hiking the next day. Maybe avoid alcohol at an altitude too.
In the end, it was a fun experience and shout out to Nathaniel who made sure I made it upstairs alright xoxo thanks pal

Woman preparing millet for making raksi (photo by Greg Willis)

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