Oct 09, 2023
When travelling through Greece you will no doubt come across the famous Greek drink Ouzo. But there is another alcoholic drink on the block, that rivals Ouzo. Tsipouro.
While eating at a taverna, usually a shot of ouzo is offered at the end of the meal. But! Before ordering your drinks for your meal, take a look around. If there are Greek people are the taverna, you will notice they will be drinking small glasses filled with a clear liquid (and sometimes ice). They are drinking ouzo or tsipouro with their meal. Not after.
The reason they are drinking ouzo / tsipouro with their meal, besides it tasting great, is that it helps with digestion.
So skip the beer (well maybe start with one), then order a 200ml bottle of ouzo or tsipouro for the table. I usually have it on ice, I do not attempt to drink either one neat, thats way too hardcore for me!
What is Ouzo?
Ouzo is made from grape must. What is grape must I her you ask? Grape must is unfermented juice remnants pressed from grapes for winemaking.
The grape must is added to alcohol and anise is added for flavour.
More often than not ouzo will be made with grapes, but can also be made from figs and other natural products found on a farm.
Anise is the main spice added to the alcohol and grape just, but different regions of Greece can add other herbs and spices for a unique flavour.
Once the mixture has been distilled (up to 3 times), you are left with a 95%-100% ABV. So it can be consumed water is added which then creates a drinkable alcoholic drink, usually around the 35% ABV mark.
What Does Ouzo taste like?
Ouzo has a very distinct taste, which divides a lot of people on whether they want to try it.
Ouzo, as it is made with anise, tastes a lot like liquorice. But on steroids. I love liquorice, can eat it all day every day, but a glass of ouzo is hard for me to finish.
How To Drink Ouzo
As ouzo is drunk out of a small glass, sometimes a shot glass, it is drunk slowly throughout your meal.
Having a shot of ouzo, is asking for trouble! Take it slow and enjoy sipping it during your meal.
What Food Is Eaten With Ouzo?
Small plates of food are eaten with ouzo. The small plates, or mezes range from all types of dishes, such as sardines in brine, beans, pork chop, Greek salad, dips such as fava or tzatziki and of course bread.
All the meze plates are shared with everyone at the table, along with the ouzo!
Why Does Ouzo Go Cloudy When Water Is Added?
The combination of water and the oils from the spices (especially the anise) causes the clear alcohol to react and go cloudy. Do not fear, this is normal! In fact, adding water to your ouzo allows for the herbs and spices to be released, letting our some beautiful aroma's while drinking your ouzo.
So that is the ins and outs of Greeces most popular spirit, trusty old Ouzo. Now we move on to Ouzo's stronger cousin. Tsipouro.
What is Tsipouro?
Tsipouro or Tsikoudia in Crete, is another clear Greek spirit that packs a huge punch when drunk. Tsioupro is made from the leftovers from the wine harvest. It was originally made just for Greek households, and was illegal to sell. It was not until 1988, where the sale of tsipouro was allowed.
Tsipouro is a grape distillate. The grape pomace is left to ferment for a around a month or until the sugars of the grape mash becomes alcohol.
More often than not, the trispouro is distilled once, it is then mixed with water to lower the alcohol ABV to around 40%-45%.
What does Tsipouro Taste Like?
Tsipouro is a strong drink, similar to grappa. It has a slight grape taste, but unlike ouzo, most version to not contain any anise or spices.
There are version of Tsipouro that do contain anise, but the more traditional versions are straight up alcohol.
How To Drink Tsipouro
Load a small glass up with some ice and pour some tsipouro over it. Tsipouro will stay clear in colour. Let the ice melt a bit, then take your first sip.
Just the same as ouzo, do not shot Tsipouro. Doing so could end in trouble!
What Food Is Eaten With Tsipouro?
As with ouzo, Tsipouro can be drunk with meze food. As there is no anise in the alcohol, you will get a different taste when combining it with your food.
This magical tree can make 100 and 1 things, including a delicious drink called, you guessed it mastiha. It goes well with basically any cocktail or can be drunk straight!