At The Bar with DNA Distillery founders Monique Sutevski and James Projcevski

Keeping it in the family made sense to cousins Monique Sutevski and James Projcevski who have opened the first Australian rakija distillery in Sydney. They elegantly bring back a family recipe handed down over five-generations and connects them to their Balkan and Slavic roots in Eastern Europe.

Enter DNA Distillery – where a secret recipe isn’t under wraps anymore. While the Italians choose grappa and the Greeks opt for ouzo, DNA Distillery is showing us how they do it other parts of Eastern Europe and deliver an alternative when it comes to what you drink next.

Rakija is made using fermented fruit; and while both Monique and James understood the basics by watching their grandparents create home-made rakija, they did consult with experts and consultants to bring this distilled new-age version to life.

“Rakija is the expression of our identity, our family, culture, and traditions,” says James Projcevski.

“It is a drink that represents life’s milestones, is a drink of joy; for celebrating with family and friends, for sipping between conversations. It has meaning – no matter who you are or where you come from,” he says.

Reviving a five-generations old recipe made sense to Sutevski, who swapped a career in law during the pandemic, for a shot in the booze lane.

“It’s something we’ve been surrounded by our whole lives, it felt familiar, it felt right,” says Monique Sutevski.

“Gin has had a renaissance, why couldn’t we do the same with rakija?”

“It feels weird to say, but it’s something that we just knew we had to do. We saw the magic that happens around [rakija] and wanted to share that with as many people as possible,” says Sutevski.


It’s where our families laid their roots and where our grandparents decided to build their lives when they migrated to Australia. It’s where we’ve spent our lives, have grown up and pursued our dreams.


Now, brace yourselves – McDonald’s. McDonald’s has been a constant presence in DNA. Our very first meeting as DNA was at McDonald’s. It’s where our brand was born. A note pad and a Big Mac.


Sydney’s The Baxter Inn. We went there to celebrate Monique’s admission as a solicitor when I asked her what she wanted to do next. Her answer was not typical. She replied by saying; “I want to make rakija”. I expected her to say she wanted to be a Judge. But no, she wanted to make rakija. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. We ended up at McDonalds the following Monday. And DNA was born.


James: Old Fashioned: I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy, love black & white movies and I don’t dress flashy and have pretty minimalist tastes, also I apparently post on Instagram like a dad so there’s that.

Monique – Spicy Margarita – I’m sweet, fresh and an ethnic that loves chilli.


James:  Sparkling water and sunlight – clean and simple.

Monique: – A cold can of coke – it just hits the spot!




James: Long Bar at Raffles Hotel Singapore. It’s full of history and you feel like you’re transported back in time when you drink there. It was the birthplace of the Singapore Sling and the place to drink when the Western World was connecting to the Eastern Word through Singapore.


Golden Fleece Hotel in South Melbourne feels like you’re holidaying in the Greek islands with its white carved walls and deliciously refreshing cocktails.


We both love a Sour, our DNA twist on the classic Amaretto Sour or Whiskey Sour is called a Rakija Sour. Swapping out the spirit for our Gold Rakija, it’s a perfect choice for any occasion.


Us. We’re about to change the way you drink.

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