Nearly 10,000 bottles of Serbia’s beloved fruit brandy known as rakija will be used to disinfect a hospital in the central city of Krusevac, the local Red Cross said Monday.
The bottles of Viljamovka, a variety of the drink made from pear, have been sitting in a state depot since 2005 after failing an inspection.
Under the Red Cross initiative, they will be processed into 70 per cent alcohol to provide extra disinfectant for the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic, said Emina Todorovic, the organisation’s local secretary.
“We have another wave of the coronavirus looming, so extra disinfectant will be of benefit,” she told AFP.
The popular fruit drink, which can also be made from plum, grapes, quince and other fruits, is everywhere across the Balkans and according to lore, a “cure” for all kinds of ailments.
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic faced criticism in February when he downplayed the danger of the virus by joking that it wouldn’t “grow wherever you put alcohol”, adding that the pandemic was just another reason to hit the bottle.
Only a few weeks later, Serbia faced a shortage of disinfectants and has since processed almost 350,000 litres of wine from a bankrupt distillery into 70 per cent alcohol for hospital use.