Locals say the best ţuică comes from canteen-shaped bottles, doled out in quiet villages. Sometimes, it’s sold on the side of the road. Romanians produce over 300,000 tons of plums every year, and most of them end up in a glass of this clear brandy.
Despite being little known in other countries, this signature liquor is a source of Romanian pride. Across the country, raised glasses are filled with the plummy spirit—served cold in summer, hot in winter. Families and friends toast with it at social gatherings or take a shot before a meal as an aperitif, meant to kickstart the appetite and aid in digestion. When visitors first arrive in a new home, they’re offered a glass of ţuică.
After distillation, ţuică can be left to age in oak barrels for up to 10 years. Other times, it’s consumed immediately. The final product can range from 20 to 60 percent alcohol. Whether it’s at a Romanian wedding, baptism, wake, hunting party, religious celebration, or just a meal, attendees ensure the ţuică gets finished.