Friday, August 7, 2009


Dear Friends,
For those of you who were not lucky enough to have been stationed at Iraklion Air Station on Crete, or may not have visited Crete, I need to provide you with a little background information about raki before proceeding any further. Raki is made from grapes, but it is not wine. Wine is made from fermented grapes; whereas, raki is distilled from grapes, much in the same way that whiskey is distilled. The closest thing that I could compare raki with is Tennessee moonshine. However, Tennessee moonshine pales in comparison when placed side by side with raki. As one who has sampled both (but not at the same time), I can attest that raki is much more potent than Tennessee moonshine.
I’m sure that many of you recall the effects that raki had on us when we were young and foolish, and were stationed at Iraklion Air Station on Crete. Just about any of us who tried raki also abused it (or did it abuse us?). Most of us, at one time or another, partook of large enough quantities of raki, that, if we had died then, our bodies would be have been pickled to the extent they would have outlasted ANY Egyptian mummy. And, I distinctly remember one young airman, whose cigarette lighter had run out of lighter fluid in the mountain village of Anogia, filling his lighter with raki and then successfully lighting it! It burned with an almost clear flame...much like pure grain alcohol. And, I also remember different airmen, huddled at the base of the porcelain god, begging that Death might come quickly, but, if spared Death, swearing that raki would never again cross their lips! And, I personally recall awakening the following morning after an evening bout with a bottle of raki, with such a severe headache that I felt as if I were having a cerebral hemorrhage! But, were you aware that raki possesses other uses and properties as well? What follows is an incomplete list (the list grows with each passing day):

(1) Raki has the ability to make grown men weep and beg for their mommies.

(2) Any surplus raki that has not been consumed just prior to the new grape harvesting season, is purchased by the Greek Air Force and used in their fighter jets as aviation fuel.

(3) Raki, when taken with Viagra and Rogain, will cause one’s hair to stand straight up and then wave back and forth.

(4) If applied directly to the skin, raki will repel all mosquitoes, most other insects, and some people.

(5) If infants are bathed in raki, it will cause them to behave until they are five years old.

(6) Raki can lower one’s I.Q. from imbecile to genius.

(7) Raki can make one think that every word out of his mouth and every thought out of his head is brilliant.

(8) Lawyers love to drink raki – it makes them see everything in triplicate.

(9) When consumed while on the beach, raki will make one think that his skin is impervious to the rays of the sun.

(10) The following morning, a very large glass of raki is a great antidote against the effects of sunburn.

(11) Raki, when expelled from the body and ignited, can be used as a flamethrower.

(12) The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes the furtherest “hurler” as one who used raki as the propellant.

(13) The longest non-powered flight was attributed to an airman on Crete who had been drinking raki for a day and a half. Someone accidently lit a match near him while he was expelling gas, and he wasn’t seen again until he landed in a wheat field in the middle of Kansas.

(14) Raki can make one think he can fly.

(15) Raki can make one think that he can think.

(16) Raki has been known to cause airmen to leave the Airmen’s Club on I.A.S. crawling on their hands and knees like a pack of dogs. These same airmen were known to have been given a police escort, complete with flashing lights, as they crawled on their hands and knees behind the patrol car back to their dormitory.

(17) Raki was used in Vietnam as a backup to Agent Orange.

(18) When poured into your riding mower, it can make you exceed the speed limits on ANY interstate.

(19) Raki can make one think he is a race car driver.

(20) Raki can make one think he can write funny jokes about raki.

(21) And lastly, remember: isn’t just for drinking anymore!

O.K., O.K., you guessed it! I have been sitting here drinking raki and now I'm trying to find the keys on my laptop. Actually, I’m trying to find my laptop.

Take core, stay weel, and keep in torch...

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,
Bob Armistead


Anonymous said...

Whew! I watched a show on how they make the stuff. If I remember right, you have to get permission (or some sort of license) to make it and they handed down the process from father to son through the generations. Anyway, never tried it and, thanks to your post, I don't think I will!

Anonymous said...

Bobby, I remember raki very well! Was on Crete 76 to 78 with a wife and two kids. We all really enjoyed our time there. We experienced raki in a special way. Our local neighbors in Hersonosis took us up to their home village in the mountains. Have no idea where it was or what it was named, but it was very primitive. The people were warm and friendly. They treated us like royalty. They even fired up the raki still so we could see how it was done. The keeper of the still was ancient and toothless. When we got there, he proudly showed us his still and how it worked. He took a small glass and wiped it on his shirt sleeve, dipped it into the olive oil can with the top cut off that was collecting the raki dripping out of the still, handed it to my wife and said drink. She did, then I did and we tried very hard to keep it down. It was like drinking fire. I plan to follow your blog. Thanks for doing it. Corky Bingham

William said...

Bob, glad to see you're back for an encore. You did a great job last year. You allowed a lot of folks to revisit Crete, through your eyes and words. You done good, keep it coming. and Enjoy!!
Bill "Hair" Simmons Crete 68-71(Charlie Flt)and 74-78(Dog Flt and Daze - with Corky from the above post).

Pete said...

In my six or so years (62-64, 70-74) I only tried it once and, needless to say, never again. Switched to Metaxa and Coke and never looked back.
Pete Wroblewski

mac said...

Hey Pete,try a Zorb's kiss.Metaxa and orange juice or Raki and orange juice..
Bob keep the posts comming.How hot is it there now?100F here

Bob Armistead said...

Mac, The temperature here has been surprisingly mild. The first couple of days after my arrival on August 2nd. were in the mid to upper 80's. Now, the high tempertaures are usually in the low to mid-80's! LIFE IS GOOD...VERY GOOD!!!

Bob Armistead

Tom said...
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James Gill said...

Call my friend Manos for a visit and some of his "world famous raki!" He and I can go through an entire water bottle of the stuff after dinner! I have to sleep till 1pm the next day. My wife hates when we do it!
james gill 88-90

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