Do you believe in fairies? Maybe the question is awkward given the fact we are talking about special drinks in small mountain place of Lokve. But, Vid Arbanas, a charismatic owner of Kotač manufactury does. He often finds the spiritual in Gorski kotar forests, which we might call elves, fairies, dwarves, etc. The point is – nature gives us everything; cure, relaxation, meditation. And if you forget this while visiting Lokve, a big wooden statue of an elf in front of the tasting room will remind you whom you are visiting.
Mr. Arbanas will welcome you in warm mountain way, often dressed in white old-Slavic cloth. You might be invited to visit a photo-exhibition that is regularly part of the experience. Very soon after that you can start trying the wonderful and tasteful products made in this place.
First stop – Mountain herbal liqueur San Hubert, an aperitif made from fifty-seven herbs and seven berries, based on vine brandy. It makes your circulation vivid, balances your metabolism. Bitter-sweet taste resembles an excellent Jägermeister at first, but after a few sips we decided San Hubert is far better. A bear is pictured on the bottle, which is in fact a reminiscence of the name itself – San Hubert is saint patron of hunters, which dwell in beautiful Croatian mountain forests.
Ideally, all these drinks should be accompanied by food. This is so as digestif Papra is best felt if your stomach is full. The name Papra comes from pepper, but the name could be misleading. It is not hard drink at all, but only if you know how to drink it. Thirteen herbs and four roots, out of which some are secret, make the substance of this drink based on muscat vine brandy. First you sip a bit of Papra, roll it over your mouth and then drink it. You will have sharp feeling in your mouth and warmth in your stomach. Then, after two minutes, your mouth will have velvet-like feeling, like you have brushed your teeth. This is probably the best known drink of Mr. Arbanas, a sensation also rooted in the history of Gorski kotar. The label on the bottle shows devil in woods, with burning trees behind him, and with a subtitle Hortus Diabolicus – The Devil’s Garden. This was the name of old Romans who couldn’t traverse Gorski kotar and were fearful of its mountains and people.
For the end of your experience you must try Blueberry Liqueur Plava Mrča. It is sweet drink based on blueberries and four types of herbs, based on Vranac wine. Vid Arbanas also makes natural herbal drink made from wild rose, with basis of Muscat vine brandy. The suggestion is to use 2 dcl of Schweppes Bitter Lemon mixed with 0,5 dcl of wild rose and two cubes of ice as a refreshing cocktail.
And if you are supporter of stronger drinks, do not despair. There is also something for you, Hajdučka travarica or Hero’s Brandy. It is a strong herbal brandy made of fifteen different herbs, with emphasis on yarrow (hajdučka trava or stolisnik). The label here shows the famous obelisk in end (or beginning) of Louisiana road, an old Imperial road from Karlovac to Rijeka, which tells a quite special touristic story in Gorski kotar.
Rudolfa Strohala 127, Lokve
Tel +385 51 831 211; mob +385 98 96 59 156