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Traditional Greek Spirits, Ouzo

Aegean islands ● Greece ● Lesvos ● Mitylene ● 13 July 2016

Ouzo the king of Greek spirits

Greek ouzo

Ouzo is known as the national spirit of Greece. Except Greece it is also consumed in Turkey where it is known as raki. Some people compare it with absinthe and it has also a similar flavor with tsipouro, another Greek spirit which is produced with different method. Today its name and origin is protected by EU laws which ensure that it can be produced only in Greece.

This spirit is a mixture of alcohol, water and a variety of aromatic herbs (coriander, fennel, anise) with most dominant the anise. Sometimes it is produced from grape distillation but this is very rare. According to legislation, the grape based ouzo cannot surpass the 20% of the whole production.

The distillation is done in special kettles, which are made of copper. After the mixing of the ingredients follows the boiling process, which is done more than once. The final product has 40% to 50% alcohol by volume.

Ouzo with seafood

Ouzo has it's origins in ancient Greece, it was called "Lesvios Oinos" which means wine from Lesvos. It was also very popular in the Byzantine empire. The production and consumption of ouzo went on during the Ottoman period and it was a very popular drink in areas of contemporary Turkey and the Middle East. After the liberation of Greece its production rose in different areas of the country.

After the catastrophe of Smyrna in 1922, it found its home in Mitylene, Lesbos. Its heyday came in 1967 when 17 producers created the hellenic cooperative of ouzo producers which brought ouzo in every greek home and exported it all over the world as a P.D.O. product.

A well-balanced ouzo may contain 46% alcohol in order to be able to travel all over the world without being by the weather conditions so to preserve its aromatic and flavor properties. Ouzo with anise is consumed with or without ice, with nuts but it best accompanies as an appetizer, seafood.