It Started With An Ouzo

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Greek Spirits can be confusing: Welcome to Tsipouro, Tsikoudia, Raki and Ouzo | ELLOINOS

About Stavros Allanopolis. Stavros Allanopolis.

  • Set Me Free;
  • Stranger Lurking in the Shadows.
  • Huge portions and a shot of ouzo! - Akropolis;

Books by Stavros Allanopolis. Mastic, widely known since ancient times for its beneficial and therapeutic properties, is an aromatic resin offered to us by the mastic tree, a shrub flourishing exclusively in Southern Chios. The liqueur known as Masticha of Chios is produced on the island and is the outcome of the distillation of genuine mastic , a process that distinguishes it from a plain mastic liqueur. It is traditionally and exclusively produced in Greece, on the island of Chios in particular. This traditional Greek liqueur shows enormous potential in the international market, particularly after its exclusive production in Greece was secured by EU legislation.

For new visitors this happens usually after your first dinner in a restaurant or taverna.

There's More to Greek Liquor Than Just Ouzo

Cretans wait patiently for this period to come, they are gathering to special places with pots, where the distillation takes place and during the process they celebrate, with lots of food, drink, song and dance. During the Turkish occupation of Crete the name raki was given to the local tsikoudia, since there were some similarities.

Now both names are used in Crete equally. The Turkish raki has a history going back years. But it all started much longer ago: famous coppersmiths from Armenia and the Pont, who made nice decorated distilling vessels, confirmed the deep knowledge of distillation in all the Byzantine empire. Wine is the most ancient Greek alcohol and Greece is the first wine-producing territory in Europe. According to Greek mythology wine started in Greece when Dionysus, the half-man half-god son of Zeus, lived in the mountains and learned the wine making process.

Dionysus brought the art of wine making to humans when he taught Icarus, the king of Athens, how to make wine.

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In ancient times, as trade in wine became extensive, it was transported from end to end of the Mediterranean; Greek wine had especially high prestige in Italy under the Roman Empire. On October 25, , Greece won the right to label ouzo as an exclusively Greek product. There is an ouzo museum [4] in Plomari , Lesvos. The origin of the name "ouzo" is disputed. A popular derivation is from the Italian "uso Massalia"— for use in Marseille —stamped on selected silkworm cocoons exported from Tyrnavos in the 19th century.

According to anecdote, this designation came to stand for "superior quality", which the spirit distilled as ouzo was thought to possess.

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During a visit to Thessaly in , the late professor Alexander Philadelpheus delivered to us valuable information on the origins of the word "ouzo", which has come to replace the word "tsipouro". According to the professor, tsipouro gradually became ouzo after the following event: Thessaly exported fine cocoons to Marseilles during the 19th century, and in order to distinguish the product, outgoing crates would be stamped with the words "uso Massalia"—Italian for "to be used in Marseille".

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One day, the Ottoman Greek consulate physician, named Anastas Anastasios Bey, happened to be visiting the town of Tyrnavos and was asked to sample the local tsipouro. Upon tasting the drink, the physician immediately exclaimed: "This is uso Massalia , my friends"—referring to its high quality. The term subsequently spread by word of mouth, until tsipouro gradually became known as ouzo.

Anise is added, sometimes with other flavorings such as star anise , fennel , mastic , cardamom , coriander , cloves , and cinnamon. The flavoring ingredients are often closely guarded company "recipes", and distinguish one ouzo from another.


The ouzo yeast is then distilled. The spirit at the beginning of the distillation heads and end tails is usually removed to avoid light and heavy alcohols and aromatics. The heads and tails are usually mixed and distilled again. The product of this second distillation can be used to produce a different quality ouzo. This technique of double-distillation is used by some distillers to differentiate their products. But most producers combine the "ouzo yeast" with less expensive ethyl alcohol flavored with 0. Greek law dictates that in this case the ouzo yeast cannot be less than 20 percent of the final product.

The final ABV is usually between It is traditionally slowly sipped usually mixed with water or ice together with mezedes shared with others over a period of several hours in the early evening.

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In other countries it is tradition to have ouzo in authentic Greek restaurants as an aperitif, served in a shot glass and deeply chilled before the meal is started.