Ratafia – Sweet Vodka of Noblemen

In this day and age, even some distillery industry experts don’t know about ratafia, also known as sweet vodka, but 200 years ago this drink had been made in every noble distillery. Despite it being quite strong, this sweet vodka was considered an exquisite ladies’ drink among noblemen of that time. This article will get you acquainted with a classic ratafia recipe, which can be easily replicated at home, as long as you have ethanol. You can use all sorts of fruits as the raw material: raspberries, cherries, apricots, currants, etc.

Ratafia is a type of fortified alcoholic drinks (40-45% ABV) obtained by infusing ripe fruits with clean ethanol followed by the addition of sugar. Ratafia’s technology is pretty similar to liqueur technology, but it’s different in a way that it has higher alcoholic content and lower sweetness.

Rumor has it that ratafia was first made about a millennium ago in an Italian region Andorno. The drink was named after the Latin saying “Rata Fiat,” which translates to “this is signed.” It was used by Catholic priests during wedding ceremonies. Thus, ratafia may well be a wedding alcohol.

The second birth of ratafia happened in Russia during the rise of the serfdom law. It was then that this infusion got its “sweet vodka” name. Many landowners held their own small distilleries specifically for ratafia. Upper-class people really enjoyed the mild and sweet flavor of this delicious drink.

But by the 19th century, the knowledge of ratafia started fading away. There were two reasons for this: the complexity of the technology and features of Russian cuisine. To make ratafia you need high ABV alcohol.

A fractionating column was invented in 1868. Prior to that strong distillates were obtained by running numerous moonshine distillations, which is quite difficult. Besides at that time, Russian cuisine started developing towards hot and sour dishes. Suffice to say sweet alcoholic drinks don’t mix well with them.

Ratafia Classic Recipe

Nowadays making sweet vodka is much easier since obtaining ethanol or medical alcohol is not a problem. Many find the raspberry ratafia the tastiest.


  • Ripe raspberries – 1 kilo
  • Ethanol (70-90%) – 0.5 liter
  • Sugar – 6 teaspoons


  1. Fill a glass container (bottle, jar or decanter) to the brim with ripe raspberries. 2. Top them off with ethanol.
  2. Seal the container and leave for 1 month in a warm place or in the sun. Shake it once a week.
  3. Decant the infusion and strain it through cheesecloth, gently squeezing the pulp.
  4. Pour some infusion in a separate kitchenware and add sugar in an amount of 10-12 teaspoons of sugar per 1 liter of ethanol. Heat up the liquid on the stove until the sugar dissolves, then pour the resulting syrup back into the original container.
  5. Stir the mixture well, bottle and seal it. Your raspberry ratafia is ready.

Homemade ratafia can be stored in a fridge or cellar for a few years. 45-60% ABV.

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