- Food and Cooking
Greek Ouzo: Drinking with the Gods
Ouzo, The World-Famous Greek Aperitif
Ouzo is an alcoholic drink of exclusively Greek origin with a characteristic anise flavour.
Age-old techniques are employed for the preparation of the liquor, and the art of its consumption has evolved through time to include particular rituals of serving, drinking and accompanying ouzo with the appropriate plates called mezÃ¨ (or mezÃ©des, in plural).
Ouzo consumption has also a social aspect. People don't drink alone; they do so in company of people they want to share with. Cordial conversation ensues and treats to friends are always a possibility. Because gifts of the Earth are just passing by the hands of man, a Greek fares better by knowing he has handed out to his fellow men.
The gathering of men at the coffee shop kafeneio or at the local taverna is a scaled informal reenactment of the ancient Agora, where citizens gathered to get informed, talk about the latest & hottest, make acquaintances, and debate political matters.
That is why we say people would love to learn how to drink ouzo the Greek way.
Ouzo - The Mediterranean Spirit - Anise-Flavoured Drinks: Greek, Italian, Turkish, and more
Ouzo is a typical Greek product, although it is not the only anise-flavoured drink in the eastern Mediterranean area. The reason is that anise is a native plant in those regions, where the soil is light and well drained. Man is always inventive, and mostly so with what pleases him. Peoples dwelling around the Mediterranean Sea have, from very early times, discovered how to incorporate the seeds of the said plant in their spirits and liquors recipes.
Some alcoholic products with anise flavour include the sambuca (Italy), the absinthe and pastis (France), the arak (Lebanon, Syria), and the rakia, or raki (popular in Turkey and other Balkan countries).
We ought to make a distinction here: we must not confuse the Greek rakÃ¬, or tsikoudiÃ , which is a typical product of Crete and traditionally not anise-flavoured, with the rakia, which is the Turkish equivalent to ouzo.
Bartender's Companion - Add Water, Drink as a Shot, Mix Into Cocktails: How to Drink Ouzo
A collection for party animals. Or for plain ol' people who just want to have some fun on a sunny afternoon.
Ray Foley is a former bartender, now editor of Bartender Magazine and author of several bartending and cocktail recipe books.
I'd never dream of mixing metaxa brandy with ouzo and grenadine, as the so-called Agean (oh dear! it's Aegean) Shooter does. I would consider though trying the African Violet (hint: name probably inspired by the colour).
Little book for little glasses.
Vodka, Rum, Gin, Whiskey, Drambuie, Liqueurs, Martini, Ouzo (of course!) & other stuff I don't know anything about, because I drink ouzo on one little rock of ice ;-)
343 pages - soft, wipe dry cover
1,300 cocktail recipes, in alphabetical order within drinking categories
Home Bar section, also for party planning
History of Ouzo - When and Where did Ouzo Appear? -- Born in slavery, Grown to reach a world-wide status
The precursor of ouzo is tsÃpouro, a spirit produced by distillation of the skins and stalks of grapes (called tsÃpoura, pl.), along with small quantities of must, that remain in the wine-press. Tsipouro used to be distilled during the Byzantine era and throughout Ottoman times and, according to tradition, it was the pet project of a group of 14th century monks living in a monastery on holy Mount Athos. One version was flavoured with anise, and it is the one that eventually came to be called ouzo.
During the days of Ottoman Empire, ouzo was quite widespread in several regions of the country that today we call Turkey, as well as in other regions of the Middle East.
Modern ouzo distillation largely took off in the 19th century following Greek independence. The island of Lesvos, in the north-east Aegean, was and still is a major producer and lays claim to the invention of the drink. The island of Chios, located in the same general area, is another major producer.
When absinthe fell into disfavour in the early 20th century due to its hallucinatory properties, ouzo gained in popularity. As a matter of fact, it was once called "a substitute for absinthe without the wormwood".
Since 1989, the European Union recognizes ouzo as a product with a protected designation of origin, thus prohibiting makers outside Greece and Cyprus from using the name.
Summer in Greece with Ouzo Plomari - Travel in Greece Goes Hand-in-Hand with a Glass of Ouzo
Ouzo Plomari (by Isidoros Arvanitis) is one of the most popular ouzo brands in Greece -- one of my favourites too.
This short commercial takes us from the car-filled streets of a busy capital, carries us through picturesque greek villages, golden fields and rural whitewashed churches overlooking the waves, until it gently lays us down across a little table for two, sipping ouzo at the edge of a golden Aegean beach.
Not a bad little fantasy, is it? (sigh)
Why Ouzo Turns White
Mixing Ouzo with Water and / or Ice
When water or ice is added to ouzo, which is clear in color, it turns milky white; this is because anethole, the essential oil of anise, is soluble in alcohol but not in water. Diluting the spirit causes it to separate creating an emulsion, whose fine droplets scatter the light.
Some people maintain that ice gives ouzo an ideal agreeable temperature for consumption. According to connoisseurs though, ouzo must be diluted with water only; thus, the taste remains unadulterated and the potable "cools" smoothly and equably, while gradually unlocking its aromas in their full intensity.
One more detail: some say it is best to first add water and then the ice in order to avoid the formation of crystals. (I only add ice, and I haven't made the experiment yet.)
Kiss Me I Taste Like Ouzo
A Titillating Top to Remind You of Great Holidays (or to Tease You into Going on One)
I just loved it the minute I laid eyes on it!
Available by zazzle.com in many colours, sizes, and styles. (White and yellow for me, thank you.)
A T-shirt would wear well on both male and female ouzo lovers, and a long-sleeve would be great on an occasional breezy night. (See Page)
Most of all, it will remind you of carefree afternoons under the bright blue sky of Greece or of endless ouzo-sopping parties at islands bars.
Either way most enjoyable, I hope.
Traditional Ouzo Production Process
From the Sun-Drenched Fields to Your Glass
When the plant of anise reaches full maturation, it is harvested, tied in small sheaves and left to dry in shadow, so as to maintain its green colour. The next phase is the "drimÃ³nisma," in which the seed is manually and with utmost care separated from the stalks.
Before distillation, the seeds are drenched in sacks made of plant fibres for a day in order to soften and render their full aroma during the process; they are then mixed with pure alcohol (96% vol) from pressed grapes or molasses and placed in special copper cauldrons (alembics).
Besides anise seeds, other combinations of herbs and spices may be used, i.e. various blends of fennel, nutmeg, cinnamon, mint, hazelnut, and/or mastic, sometimes even orange, tangerine, bitter orange, or citrus peels, creating varieties and brands with distinct and unique tastes and aromas for the pleasure of ouzo lovers.
The mixture will be distilled three times. The "head," that is the first fraction of the distilled product, along with the "tail," the end fraction, are put aside. Only the "heart," which is the central and best fraction, is put through the second and third phases of the distillation process. All the while, special attention is paid so as not to allow any sudden rises or drops in temperature. The central fraction of the last phase of distillation is called "adÃ³loto," and it is the heart of the heart of the ouzo making process, used in the production of premium, gourmet ouzos.
The "heart" is stored for a couple of days in large stainless-steel tanks to settle, so that the ingredients may "bond" and homogeneity of the mixture be achieved. The product of this process is a 100% ouzo extract and may be consumed only after having been mixed with clear water to reach 38Âº-48Âº vol (Gay-Lussac scale). The final product is then bottled or barrel-aged to attain a more mature, smooth flavour.
Today the law allows ouzo to be sold with a minimum of 20% pure ouzo extract content. The remaining <80% may consist of alcohol, water and essences, with anethole, the essential oil of anise, being the predominant one. In some cases sugar is also added. In any case, the product is labeled accordingly. The purest and best of all must read "100% distilled ouzo."
Treasure from the Greek Seas - Ouzo Plomari Meets The Unrivalled Blue of the Greek Islands Sea
Just watch at 0:10 !!!
The boat seems like floating on air.
At the end of the video, you may also see how a plate of olives and just one tasty, ripe, red tomato can be pretense enough to "grab a bite" and take the cork off an ouzo bottle.
Ouzo Cocktail Recipes
Greeks avoid drinking ouzo as a shot or mixed in cocktails, and they have their reasons for doing so.
However, drinkers all over the world have acquired their own preferences, and bartenders (hopefully) are very inventive in their mixture recipes.
After all, as we say in Greece, everyone's entitled to his own taste ("peri orexeos, kolokythopita")
Here's a selection of cocktails, some of which even a naïve Balkan secluded in her mountainous corner of Europe (that's me, drama queen!) would consider having a taste of.
- the best ouzo cocktail #1
Yep, that's the one! This "touch of licorice flavor peaking out" from a wisely chosen mixture. Jamaica meets Greece. Stin ygeia mas!
- ouzo cocktail recipes
"Many thanks to the bartenders at the Proedreio in Arhanes, Crete, for sharing their knowledge and expertise." Be modest with the Greek Doctor (and with other Greeks hanging out at the page).
- great site about greece - page about ouzo cocktails
There you go! Extra gift: a useful site if you want to travel to Greece.
Drinking Ouzo the Greek Way
How to Drink Ouzo Safely and Savoury
Ouzo is traditionally served in small glasses or, most usually in the islands, in medium slim ones, which do not allow its characteristic aroma escape very quickly. The serving is always accompanied by cold water and ice to be mixed in the potion which thus acquires its cloudy white colour.
In American bars, ouzo is usually served in shot glasses and drunk all at once, but this is neither the most pleasant nor the most interesting way to drink it. Likewise, Greeks never mix ouzo with soft drinks or colas, as they tend to destroy its liquorice-like taste.
Ouzo is often considered a rather strong drink, although its alcohol content is not especially high compared to other liquor. The reason mainly lies in its sugar content, which delays ethanol absorption in the stomach. The drinker may be misled into thinking that they can drink more, as they do not feel tipsy early on. Then the cumulative inebriating effect of ethanol appears rather quickly and the drinker's head starts spinning uncontrollably.
Chech out the adventures of a reckless ouzo drinker:
Brilliant, after surviving his downfall!
Anyway, back to academics:
Through ages of drinking ouzo, Greeks have developed the art of consuming the potable without getting drunk. It is generally considered poor form to drink "xerosfÃ½ri" (literally "dry hammer"), an idiomatic expression that means "drinking alcohol without eating anything." The presence of food, especially fats or oils, in the upper digestive system prolongs the absorption of ethanol and ameliorates alcohol intoxication.
Ouzo is usually consumed as a relaxing afternoon interlude or as a pre-prandial aperitif. One may see people sitting in their neighbourhood tavernas sipping ouzo along with a snack of nuts or olives, engaged in small-talk, as ouzo time is, first and above all, a time for socializing. There are also specialty tavernas, the ouzeries, where the potable is consumed along with appetizer selections known as mezÃ¨.
Ouzo Shot Glasses - The Stylish, The Fastidious and The Funny
If, after all, you absolutely insist in drinking ouzo in shot glasses, here are some ideas for you:
The MezÃ¨ - Appetizers for Ouzo
Savouring away a sunny afternoon
The mezÃ¨ is never a main meal. It is not consumed in order to satiate, but to mitigate the ethanol effects and to stimulate the taste.
There's no need to have a multitude of plates laid on the table. The mezÃ©des must be small in size and replenished every once in a while, to be easily discerned on the plate and to be more easily offered. A few bites out of every plate should suffice.
The flavours may vary. Sour, salty, sweet, or bitter, they all match, setting off the specific flavour of ouzo.
A usual selection of mezÃ¨ includes local vegetables (such as tomatoes, cucumbers, fried zucchini, grilled sweet red peppers called FlorÃnis, etc) , fried balls (meatballs, vegetable balls), grilled octopus or squid, fried kalamari, raw or fried cheese, salted or pickled little fish like anchovy and sardines, as well as many others which the imagination of ouzo drinkers has created over the years.
Appetizers for Ouzo: Recipes
Tasty and easy meze recipes
This is not a page about cooking - but,as a Greek native and denizen, I cannot imagine drinking ouzo without a little something to accompany it. So, here are a few dishes that will fill your table with very little effort.
1. Walnut Skordalia
Skordalia is the Greek word for garlic paste. There are many ways to make skordalia, be it with mashed potatoes, bread, or a combination of bread and walnuts, which is the tastier of all.
Peter G is an Australian chef and photographer of Greek descent, owner and author of a delicious blog named Souvlaki for the Soul, in which he shares many fantastic recipes - Greek and non-Greek - and photos of foods and places.
Without further ado, enjoy the sharp taste of walnut skordalia to dip in while sipping your ouzo.
2. Cheese Saganaki
Ivy is a Greek-Cypriot blogger with vast experience in the kitchen. Her blog, Kopiaste...to Greek Hospitality is a sight for sore eyes and for empty stomachs :-))
Cheese saganaki is one "must" among ouzo appetizers, and Ivy gives us many information and some delicious recipes for making it. Be sure to try out the Cypriot cheese haloumi, which is a unique delicacy with a mild, somewhat creamy, slightly salted taste. Original haloumi is made of a blend of sheep and goat milk (not cow's milk), so be sure to check the label before buying.
3. Bekri Meze
"Bekris" is the drunkard. So, bekri meze is supposed to be the appetizer for a person who drinks: hot enough to make him thirsty, juicy and meaty enough to fill his stomach, fatty (pork) to provide the necessary fat that will delay alcohol absorption. Drinkers have their tricks, don't they?
Check out this recipe for bekri meze and you'll get what I mean.
Cooking With Ouzo Recipes #1 - Classic Summer Food - Greek Shrimp and Feta with Chef Nic
That's how we do it. Honestly! Just not in that kind of oven.
The syrtaki music is an unfortunate cliché, but then it's not my video to tamper with.
I hope to treat you with some great greek music in the near future.
Oh, one more thing: Lighting up the cooking pan, though quite spectacular, is not "the traditional way" of cooking on our islands or mountains. Sorry, chef Nic!
Food sure tastes deliciously, though.
Greek Cuisine - Appetizers and Meals to Accompany a Glass of Ouzo - Cooking for the Symposium
It's no hard task preparing a little something to pick at during an ouzo session.
Some fried graviera cheese, a tomato and cucumber, a slice of bread, some olives, a few spoonfuls of tzatziki, and the table is set.
It doesn't have to be so frugal, though. And you don't have to make moussaka to impress your friends and family -- there are plenty of savoury and simple dishes to provide for a multitude of occasions.
Loving reviews by its users.
Classic recipes from the Greek kitchen, "adapted to healthier, lower fat and salt levels to give you simple, fresh, flavorful food"
Structured book, with interesting details about the foods and food-related traditions of the country.
The author is indeed knowledgeable about her subject.
From an awarded chef of Greek origin, Iron Chef of America 2005, president and founder of Chefs for Humanity, who recently launched the restaurants CCQ at Macy's in Costa Mesa, California, and Kouzzina at Walt Disney World.
Oh! and a mother of four - cheers to you, CC!
Cooking With Ouzo Recipes #2
We make ouzo. We drink ouzo. We eat ouzo.
There are plenty of english-speaking cooking blogs paying homage to the traditional Greek spirit.
Here's one version of another popular recipe using ouzo:
And a few more preparations in which the aromatic quality of ouzo offers a particular touch:
1. Ouzo Crispy Breadsticks
250 grams (8.5 oz) whole grain flour
625 grams (21.1 oz) all-purpose flour
1+1/2 teaspoon salt
1+1/2 teaspoon sugar
440 grams (14.9 oz) olive oil
330 grams (11.1 oz) ouzo
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ammonium bicarbonate
sesame or black sesame seeds
Put the flour, salt, sugar, and oil into a bowl.
Dilute the baking soda and ammonium bicarbonate into ouzo and add to the bowl.
Knead hard and long. If the dough is not firm enough, add some flour.
Let the dough "rest" for 30'.
Roll the dough to a rectangular layer, thick as your index finger, and cut into 0.6 inch stripes approx. Or, you may take small pieces of dough and shape them into strings of the same size.
Roll into sesame or black sesame seeds.
Bake in pre-heated oven (392 Fahrenheit) for 30'.
The following page is from a great greek cooking blog.
Don't let the strange script stop you!
You want to see the very nice photos of the breadsticks making process (those are with plain aniseed, not ouzo, but the steps are essentially the same)
and get a picture of what to expect when baking them.
2. Tagliatelle with Prawns and Ouzo
500 grams (16.9 oz) tagliatelle
1 kilo (2.2 lbs) prawns
3 medium onions, grated
1 kilo (2.2 lbs) tomatoes, cut in thick cubes
1 cup tomato juice
1 small wine-glass of dry white wine
1 small wine-glass of olive oil
500 grams (16.9 oz) feta cheese, cut in thick cubes
1-2 red hot chilli peppers (whole)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt, freshly-ground pepper
1 small wine-glass of ouzo
Boil water in a pot. Put in the prawns and leave for about 6'. Strain, let cool a little, and clean the prawns.
In a second pan, stir fry onions for 2' minutes, then add the tomatoes, tomato juice, wine, chili peppers, sugar, and salt. When the sauce starts to thicken, add the ouzo, then the prawns, and let simmer for 3'.
Prepare the tagliatelle. While they are still hot, stir in the feta cubes. Then reverse into the sauce pot and let simmer for 1', carefully swinging the pot to make ingredients blend together.
Grind some pepper on top and serve immediately.
4. Greek Deviled Eggs With Ouzo
I just discovered this recipe. Although I've never heard of it before and, frankly, it doesn't seem to be a traditional one, ingredients like parsley, black olives, ouzo, and mint are 100% greek natives and used in greek kitchen. As usual, don't overdo it with the ouzo - you want the liquor to add a delicate taste to the meze, without covering all the aromas.
Healthy Ouzo and MezÃ©des Consumption - Taking Care of Your Shape
Don't be afraid of mezÃ©des!
One can absolutely indulge in a few tasty plates of mezÃ¨ appetizers without suffering from remorses or nightmares of calories hunting him/her down the cobbled Greek island roads.
And remember, eating is a requisite for safe ouzo consumption. Just keep in mind the following general rules.
- Prefer salads and grilled dishes.
- Prefer fish and seafood; they contain omega-3 fats beneficial for the heart, skin, and vision.
- Consume fried mezÃ©des with moderation, because in restaurants foods are typically not fried in olive oil and that encumbers them with "bad" trans fats causing damage to the cardiovascular system.
- Do not consume large quantities of mezÃ©des with high content of cholesterol and of saturated animal fats, such as cheese, sausage, or pork ham. (Plus, they most probably will add extra inches to your waist!)
- For those paying special attention to their weight: A glass of ouzo contains 120-150 calories, depending on alcoholic content.
Drink To Your Health
Positive Health Effects of Ouzo Drinking
Even though there are no scientific studies on the action of white distillates, experts estimate that ouzo and tsipouro may benefit health, provided they are consumed in minor quantities (1-2 servings a day at most).
The essential oil of aniseed (anethole) contained in the potable whets the appetite. Aniseed, the plant that gives ouzo its strong characteristic aroma, is considered to improve iron absorption from foods. It also assuages intestine contractions, while acting as a mild antiparasitic in the area. Furthermore, ouzo dilates blood vessels, thus decreasing arterial pressure.
Ouzo has long been used as a multi-purpose home-made remedy.
Take the word of "an exiled Englishman, living in the beautiful Greek mountains, close to the ruins of Ancient Sparta" for how he used or he saw people using the alcohol.
So, what if you drink martini, or scotch, or that-central-african-stuff, or black tea, or whatever.
Ouzo Plomari stands for drinking responsibly and so do we.
I'd just like to know if you're happy with the toast; that is, if you found what you came for on this page, or if the information has offered an insight.
You may also propose your desired additions to the lens, e.g. something more that you'd like to know about ouzo, a poll of potential interest, a new angle on the subject, etc.
Thank you for staying with us!