What You Need to Know About Greek Ouzo

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Ouzo is an apéritif that is consumed extensively throughout Greece. This anise-flavored drink tastes like raki, pastis, arak, and sambuca. If you’re looking for a drink that will give you a taste of Greece, you’ll want to try ouzo. Here’s what you should know about ouzo. Here’s more information about ouzo, its history, and how to drink it:

About Ouzo

Ouzo is an anise-flavored drink that is popular throughout Greece. It is a clear liquid, but when water or ice is added, ouzo becomes a milky-white color. This change in color is due to anethole, which is an essential oil of anise. Anethole is soluble in alcohol of 38% or greater ABV, but not in water. Diluting ouzo causes it to separate and create an emulsion. The tiny droplets then scatter in the light resulting in the milky-white color. Ouzo is made from the by-products of grapes that were used to make wine. After ouzo is distilled, spices and herbs are added to create a unique flavor.

History of Ouzo

It is thought that ouzo was created by monks of Mount Athos during the 14th century. Ouzo has its roots in tsipouro. During the beginning of the 19th century, modern ouzo distillation began. The first distillery was founded in 1856 by Nikolaos Katsaros in Tyrnavos. This distillery is still in operation today. Ouzo become more popular when absinthe, a highly alcoholic drink, became less favorable in the early 20th century. In 1932, the current standard of ouzo production that involves copper stills was developed. As of 2006, ouzo can only be made in Greece thanks to its importance in Greek heritage. Ouzo received an EU-approved PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).

The origin of the name ouzo is not known for certain, but it may come either from the ancient Greek word “ozo,” which means smell or the Turkish word “uzum,” which means grape. Major Greek dictionaries derive ouzo from Turkish, so this may hold some water.

How to Drink Ouzo

Ouzo is a drink that is sipped not gulped. You’re not going to do shots with ouzo. The alcohol content in it would leave you with a nasty hangover. Ouzo is the type of drink that you can enjoy with mezedes such as squid, shrimp, grilled octopus, or cheese, veggie, and meat platters. It’s a very strong drink, so always drink it with a bit of food. Instead of refrigerating ouzo, pour it over a couple of ice cubes in a small glass.

If you’re not a fan of ice cubes, you can substitute a splash of ice cold water. Drinking ouzo is meant to be a relaxing experience. You can sip it while you nibble on your mezedes and enjoy good company and conversation. You might be surprised to learn that ouzo doesn’t complement traditional Greek entrees, so it usually isn’t served with dinner, before dinner (aperitif), or after dinner (digestif), despite it being considered an apéritif. Ouzo is usually enjoyed in the late afternoon or early evening.

If you’re going to drink ouzo, drink it the Greek way to get the full affect! It will remind you not only of delicious Greek food, but also of the country itself.

Here’s a look at some recipes that include Ouzo:

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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