Wednesday

21st Feb 2018

Looking for cocktails in Croatia

The Croatian daily paper Jutarnji List sent me on a long trip throughout Croatia, as an incognito tourist, under strict instruction to sample the local specialities and hospitality and to be ruthless if I find that part of the country's reputation for high quality tourism is overdone, or unmerited.

Well, ruthless I am. From the start, I found that they are not very good at making cocktails, especially in Rovinj, on the Istrian coast, which has a reputation inside Croatia for being a kind of cocktail capital. One would think that it doesn't take much to make a Margarita cocktail. You throw into a shaker some tequila, a drop of triple sec and limejuice… you shake…. Or you can even dispense with the shaker... Just rub some salt on the glass rim.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Pula - James Joyce gave it a bad press a hundred years ago (Photo: European Commission)

Still, what a frustrating experience to arrive in Rovinj, after half a day of travelling by bus from Zagreb, and to drink a flat, warm Margarita. Let's see: at 45 kune (6 euros), the Margarita cocktail, at the Havana bar, on the Rovinj docks, close to a seafood restaurant bizarrely named Bavaria, manages to be both bland and tepid. Damn, it's my first day of real holiday in Croatia and I wanted it to be something of a festive experience.

Getting to Rovinj was tough. I had been taken to the bus station in Zagreb by a bandit taxi-driver, who, after asking for a bandit price in a bandit tone, suggested that I give him something extra "for tea," although his big red nose singled him out as a drinker of something much more substantial.

But back to the warm Margarita! I leave the Havana bar very disappointed and head for the old town on the island. (Rovinj was an island and this is still visible). At the Monte Carlo bar, I get another warm Margarita for 5 more kune (50 kune, probably because the glass is a little bit cooler), called here Margherita, like the pizza. At the Valentino bar, the same Margarita costs a staggering 70 kune, that's 10 euros, but you can drink it on the stones, with your legs in the water...

The severe and tattooed matrons who run the place come and mop up after every guest who emerges from the water onto the stones. Nothing personal, they say, it's just that the stones become slippery afterwards. Half naked people sip cocktails staring at passing boats. The whole Valentino thing is a nice mixture of old communist-style rigour and contemporary tolerance.

What's more, the ladies even bring receipts for every cocktail, presenting them to the unclad guests. I also realise with horror that in some restaurants there is a "couvert" surcharge of 49 kune for the use of the cutlery, which is something that tourists always hate. Forty-nine kune, that‘s the price of a cocktail!… Perhaps they wash their cutlery in cocktails.

After two days in Rovinj, I can barely wait to run to Pula. I'm a real Joyce aficionado, yes, I love the unreadable James Joyce, the one with the eye patch and the monstrously complex prose. He stayed in Pula for half a year, almost one hundred years ago, and he taught English to Austro-Hungarian naval officers (among them the future admiral Horthy, the war-time Hungarian dictator, who was to keep his title of admiral long after he could only navigate on the Balaton lake).

It was in Pula that Joyce wrote the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the book that practically created modern literature. Still, what did he have to say about Pula? A "naval Siberia," he said. And about Istria? Well: "Istria is a boring place wedged into the Adriatic, peopled by ignorant Slavs who wear red caps and colossal breeches."

I regret the absence of the red caps, although I spot a couple of colossal breeches, wrapped around some beer bellies. And there he is, my dear Joyce… His bronze statue at the terrace Uliks (well, Ulysses, yes, like the novel)… No, the nice waitress has not read "Uliks". Strange, I thought it would be required reading for working in such a place. And they serve a cocktail Joyce (with cherry liqueur and Martini Bianco), and even a cocktail Nora, after the name of Joyce's horrible wife!... Nora: Baileys, coffee liqueur, cream… disgusting. But I have to have it before embarking on a further trip. Some "Ulysses" indeed!

Interview

Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me

Vice-president of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen tells EUobserver that he did most of the talking during a beer with the former commission chief, who now works for Goldman Sachs.

EU taxpayers risk bailing out MEP pension scheme

An MEP voluntary pension scheme is running a €326 million actuarial deficit. The Luxembourg-based fund, set to manage to scheme, is said to have invested the money in controversial sectors like the arms industry.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs approve anti-smuggling bill on tobacco
  2. SPD members start voting on new Merkel-led government
  3. Barroso lobbied Katainen for Goldman Sachs
  4. Berlusconi's coalition ahead with 34.7% support
  5. Moscovici: Greece '99 percent' there to get new bailout
  6. Simone Veil to enter France's Pantheon in July
  7. German poll puts far-right AfD ahead of SPD for first time
  8. Commissioners poised to join EU-Mexico trade talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Climate ShowSupporting Start-Ups & SMEs in the Energy Transition. Tomorrow the Brussels Pre-Event
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  3. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  4. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  6. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  7. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  8. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  10. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  11. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  12. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February

Latest News

  1. Eastern states push back at rule of law conditions on funds
  2. Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me
  3. A European budget: securing a prosperous future for Europe
  4. Poland wrong to log in ancient forest, says EU lawyer
  5. EU taxpayers risk bailing out MEP pension scheme
  6. Commissioner Katainen confirms Barroso lobbied him
  7. Eurogroup chief pledge on transparency after meeting MPs
  8. Poland shows no sign of concessions to Commission

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?