9 best Greek drinks

What alcoholic drinks to try in Greece

Greek alcoholic beverages

In Greece, alcohol is not just an element of the feast. And no matter whether it is a casual lunch or a festive dinner, alcoholic beverages are necessarily present on the table.

Getting to know the national alcohol is made all the more interesting by the fact that there are several unique varieties of liquor in the country. They are not produced anywhere else in the world. The most famous are considered to be such Greek strong alcoholic drinks as ouzo, tsipuro and raki.

A simple distillation technique of ethyl alcohol is used to create the product. The moonshine obtained after distillation is infused with anise with the addition of cloves, almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, other herbs and spices.

Ouzo, a strong drink

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Uso homeland is recognized as a small town Plomarion in the southern part of the island of Lesvos. Since 1989 the alcoholic drink with such name and composition can be produced only in Greece.

The composition and combinations of additives differ depending on the region of the country. But what remains constant for the preparation of the famous Greek alcoholic beverage is the use of anise seeds. Anise “nectar” has a mild and rich flavor, as it is traditionally distilled twice.

It is recommended to drink it as an aperitif chilled to a temperature of +20°C. It is better to savor in small sips, enjoying how the notes of the used spices slowly unfold. And if you’re a little afraid of the strength of alcohol – 50 degrees! – you can dilute the ouzo with cold water in the ratio of 1:1.

The traditional Greek liquor is sold in any store at a price of 5-7 € per bottle (0.5 liter). The undisputed market leader is the brand Plomari Isidoros Arvanitis.

Tsipuro and crayfish

Two other national alcoholic drinks, tsipuro and crayfish, are made in Greece with the same technology as ouzo. To make the first of them fermented grape cake is used, the distillate is mixed with ethyl alcohol and infused with anise, the same as for ouzo. Not only grapes can be used to make raki, but also melons, quinces, plums and apples. Anise is not used in such fruit and berry mixes.

The strength of raki varies from 35 to 47 degrees. The way of drinking and serving is identical to serving ouzo – in small chilled shot glasses of 50 ml. Traditionally, tsipouro and crayfish are accompanied by meze (Greek Μεζέ) or grilled seafood.

Tzipouro alcoholic drink

Tsipouro is worth sampling in the many tsipuradiko taverns on the mainland. And for a taste of real raki, it is best to go to Crete. It was here, in 1920, that the first official permission to produce drinks by distillation was given by the local authorities.

Popular strong drinks in Greece are sold everywhere and are relatively inexpensive, 3-4 € per bottle of 0.2 liter. Among the many brands, Tsipouro Tsilili or Tsipouro Tirnavou Katsaros are worth special attention.

Metaxa

Another Greek national alcoholic beverage worthy of attention is Metaxa, 40 degrees of strength. Its production was established in 1888 by Spyros Metaxas. Essentially, the idea behind the recipe for this Greek drink is a mixture of cognac and wine.

Alcoholic drink methaxa

The method of creation is based on mixing distillates of three grape varieties. They are infused in oak barrels with small pores for at least three years. The secret of cognac lies in the combination of herbal extracts that are added to the barrels. The proportions of the plants are kept in the strictest of secrecy and the softness of the Greek strong alcoholic drink is given by the nutmeg wine. That is why the taste of Metaxa is unique and the product occupies a large volume in the export policy of the country.

Traditionally, the alcohol is consumed pure (with ice) and is used as the main ingredient in many cocktails.

Beginning in 1895, Metaxa won many awards, first in Europe and later in the Americas. World War II made some adjustments to the question of whether the drink should be considered cognac or brandy. The French manufacturers patented the name “cognac,” which is not allowed to be used for other alcoholic products.

On the other hand, given the peculiarities of the manufacturing method, local entrepreneurs refused to use the word “brandy” either. And they were not mistaken. Metaxa is known far beyond the region for its unsurpassed taste qualities and does not need to be specified by class. The cost of the national alcohol varies from 13 to 30 € depending on the number of stars .

Masticha

Masticha is a spicy Greek liqueur with the addition of mastica resin. The drink is unique in that the shrubs of the pistachio tree species, from which the resin is extracted, grow only on the island of Chios. The tradition of making the liqueur goes back in time, when the resin was used to make a sweet Greek delicacy.

Spicy Mastiche Liqueur

The process of harvesting the resin is done by hand in early summer. The bark of the mastic is lightly incised and further production consists of waiting for the containers to be filled with resin. It is cleaned, mixed with alcohol, and “stewed” in tanks over low heat. The result is a thick alcoholic beverage with a strength of 30 degrees and a delicate aroma of pine forests.

Considering the main ingredient, mastiha undoubtedly has medicinal properties as well. It is believed that it has a beneficial effect on the nervous system, helps the stomach, is useful for colds.

It is served strongly chilled as an aperitif to the main Greek dishes or at the end of a meal with almond desserts. The most famous regional brand at the moment is Skinos Distillery.

For those looking for what to drink in Greece from more familiar to Europeans, the local beer is a must try. At lunchtime, you can see tables full of visitors with mugs of the heady beverage in cafes all over the country. Although Greek beer is little known in the world, there are unique examples in this category. In addition to Mythos, familiar to many beer lovers, the national brand Fix, one of the oldest in the country, is also worth a try.

Beer

The products of other local breweries deserve special praise: Nissos from the island of Tinos, Volcan from Santorini, Septem from the island of Evia (Evia). Each producer strives to make their products really tasty and original. A bottle of Greek beer costs not more than 1 € on average.

Greek wines are not as well known on the world market as strong national alcoholic beverages, but there are excellent examples among them as well. This is especially true of white wines produced from the following grape varieties: Assyrtico (Santorini), Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains (Peloponnese), Robolla (Kefalonia), Savatiano (distributed in many regions), Malagousia (Macedonia). In total there are about 10 regions in Greece, which have become the home of excellent white, red, rosé wines.

Greek wine

The rarest wine in Greece, which has no analogues in the world, is Recina. The drink is made from white grapes with the addition of Aleppo piney resin.

The most famous Greek wine brands are Boutari, Malamatina, Kourtakis, Achaia Clauss, Papaioannou, Megapanos and Cavino. The cost of a bottle, depending on the category and producer, is 7-20 € and more .

What to drink in Greece and what to take as a gift to your friends are strictly individual questions. It is best to find an opportunity to taste the drink and make sure of its quality before buying.

You should also remember how much alcohol you can take out of Greece. As such, there are no norms, so it is necessary to be guided by the rules of the state in which you arrive. For example, in Russia, one person can bring 5 liters of alcohol with a strength of less than 70 degrees for personal use.

If you come to Greece from another country and already have other national alcoholic drinks in your luggage, don’t forget how much alcohol you can bring into Greece. The limit of import is 1 liter (more than 22%) or 2 liters (less than 22%).

Drinks of Greece or a Sip of History

Greek coffee - the time-honored flavor of Greece

Coffee came to Greece from Turkey many hundreds of years ago and since then it has become one of the most favorite drinks. Ellinikos kafes Greek coffee, ellinikos kafes, is brewed on sand from heavily roasted beans, ground “to dust,” without the addition of spices. Hot and sweet, black coffee is usually infused with water, which is served with it. The sweetness and strength of coffee can vary, and depending on this, it is divided into:

  • Glikos: sweet coffee.
  • Metrios: medium sweet
  • Sketos: Strong coffee without sugar.

Frappe

The Greek drink is frappe.

On a hot summer day, Greeks prefer a cold frappe coffee. To make it, you have to whip instant coffee and some cold water with the frappe, a special mixer, until froth appears, then ice and cold water are gently added to the coffee. To taste the frappe, you need to drink it in small sips through a straw from a tall glass. If desired, cream and sugar are added to the coffee. Greeks prefer to drink their coffee leisurely, sitting in coffee houses, chatting with friends or playing board games. Often it is over a cup of coffee that important things are decided. But if you prefer to spend maximum time exploring the beautiful Hellas, you can buy take-away coffee (paketo), which is sold in special places and some cafes.

Kaymaki

In Greece any coffee must have a lush cap of foam – kaimaki. If it is lacking, a Greek can take it as an insult or even an insult! An old tradition informs us of the meaning of kaimaki. If a Greek bride wants to show her favor to her admirer, she will offer him coffee with foam, but if she does not like her date, she will give him a drink without foam. Traditionally, Greek coffee is accompanied by cold water, sweets or puffs. Coffee houses are often able to read coffee grounds in coffee grounds.

Tea: only natural

Mountain tea /tsai tu vounou/. Photo from www.cretavoice.gr

Of the traditional teas, Greeks prefer black tea with lemon. However, the most popular teas are herbal teas, the ingredients for which are carefully gathered in the mountains. Greeks like to brew sage, which in ancient times Hellenes called “the herb of longevity,” and chamomile. In Greece, herbal teas serve as cures for many ailments.

Water: the secret of longevity

Like other inhabitants of hot countries, the Greeks are well aware of the value of water, “nero” in Greek. You can be sure that in Greece water is offered everywhere – in a café with coffee, in a restaurant with dessert, when you are visiting a Greek you must have it, otherwise he will be considered an inhospitable person. Even Hippocrates wrote about the benefits of clean drinking water. The Greeks continue to adhere to this golden rule to this day. Perhaps it is in the drinking of water in large quantities and lies the key to the Greek longevity.

A refreshing drink: How to quench your thirst

It is not uncommon for Greeks to quench their thirst with soft drinks. In addition to such strongholds of globalization as Fanta and Coke, local brands of lemonade can be found here. The lemon drink is called Lemonada and the orange drink is called Portokalada. However, more popular in Greece are freshly squeezed orange juice (fresh) and homemade lemonades.

Beer: tasty and inexpensive

Greek beer. Photo from www.anindatepki.com

“What is Greek beer like?” , tourists who have recently arrived in the country are asking themselves. Not so long ago, one could say that traditional Greek beer was Heineken or Amstel, as the vast majority of beer was imported. Recently, however, there has been a development of the local beer brand Mythos, which is not inferior to imported beers in quality. Beer is one of the cheapest Greek drinks. A bottle of beer in a bar will cost you 2 – 4 Euros.

Wine: a drink from Olympus

When the word “wine” we think of France and Italy, but not Greece. Though it was the Greeks who in antiquity learned how to make and appreciate this drink. They made it in huge vessels – pithos. After fermentation, the wine was fortified with honey or raisins. The ancient Greeks preferred thick red wine, but nowadays white, dry wine is more valued. The best wines are said to be produced on the islands of Rhodes and Samos. The wines of Lesvos and Chios are also appreciated. The tart wine made from grapes grown on the volcanic soil of Santorini Island is also famous. There is no water on the island, drinking water is imported. The vineyards are irrigated with morning dew.

Greece’s wines are divided into four categories

Ονομασία προελεύσεως ελεγχόμενη (ΟΠΕ) : these include branded sweet wines, such as Mavrodaphne, Moschato, Glico. Their quality is controlled and guaranteed by the state.

Ονομασία προελεύσεως ανωτέρας ποιότητας (OPAP): these are wines of the best quality and origin. Only 20 brands belong to this category and they can use the name of the region in the wine’s name. OPAP wines: Zitsa, Amynteo, Goumenisa, Naousa, Rapsani, Kantzas, Mantinia, Nemea, Rombola, Paros, Limnos, Rodos, Santorini, Arkhanes, Peza, Sitia, Dafnes and the wines named after the hills and valleys of Halkidiki Peninsula

Greek wines, like all others, are divided into white (Λευκό), rosé (Ερυθρωπό (ροζέ)) and red (Ερυθρό). Depending on the “effervescence,” wines are non-carbonated (Ησυχο), half-carbonated (Ημιαεριούχο), carbonated (Αεριούχο), half-flavored (Ημιαφρώδη) and foamy (Αφρώδη). Lovers of sweet wine are better off with the one with Γλυκό written on it – dessert wine. Those who like dry wine should choose Ξηρό. Bottles of semi-dry and semi-sweet wine will say Ημίξηρο and Ημίγλυκο respectively.

Retsina

Retsina. Photo from – oldworldmarket.blogspot.com

Greece’s most famous and most unique wine is Recina. Its peculiarity lies in the aroma and flavor of the resin of the Aleppo pine tree. This is linked to the fact that in ancient times the wine was stored in open amphorae, where it quickly spoiled. To preserve it, the Greeks sealed the vessel with a mixture of gypsum and resin.

Nowadays, when it is not necessary to seal the wine in this way, the resin is specially added at the fermentation stage, and then it is removed by filtration. The aroma of the resin should complement the aroma of the grape wine; too pungent a resin odor is inherent in low-quality recin. In general, it would be more correct to call recina a beverage, not a wine. Its strength is 11.5%, and it belongs to the category of white wines. Another wine with a light resinous taste and aroma is the red-pink Kokkineli.

The island of Samos and wine

The island of Samos makes its namesake Muscat wine, one of the best in the world. The island also makes sweet wines of medium quality and excellent upscale liqueurs, bearing the name “Samos”. Samos is not a well known dry light wine, but it has an exquisite aroma and a pale yellow color. Greece also produces an excellent white wine, Robola, the bottles of which are wrapped in burlap casks.

Domestica

One of the best Greek wines is Domestica, which belongs to the red dry wines. Domestica is made from those old varieties that are not on the modern list of varietal grapes. The tart fruit flavor and unique aroma of the wine comes from varieties like Mavrudia and red Malvasier and the calcareous soils on which the vineyards are located.

If you’re drinking wine in the company of Greeks, remember that pouring wine into glasses is a great privilege and it’s usually taken in turns. If it’s your turn, fill everyone’s glass first and then your own. You should not pour wine to the brim, but it is considered bad form to have a long talk over an empty glass.

Strong drinks: for those who like hotter drinks

As you begin your journey through Greece, you’re unlikely to see drunk or tipsy locals. “Drink but don’t get drunk,” is the motto of the Hellenes and their contemporaries. In Greece, drinking alcohol is a true art. It is tasted, enjoyed, but not drunk. Unlike some other nations, the Greeks perceive alcohol as a pastime and an attribute of socializing with friends and not as a way of forgetting and escaping from everyday problems.

Ouzo. Photo from – greece.greekreporter.com

The national strong alcoholic beverage is ouzo. It can only be made and called as such in Greece. Ouzo is a distillate of ethyl alcohol and aromatic herbs, among which aniseed is a must. The alcohol content in ouzo is 40 to 50%. Ouzo produced in Southern Greece contains sugar, the inhabitants of Northern Greece prefer a bitter and strong drink. Uso from Lesbos is considered the best. Interestingly, on the island of Lesvos is probably the only Uzo museum in the world, where you can not only learn the steps of making Uzo, but also try this drink. And in the city of Mitilini every year takes place the Festival of Uzo. In Greece, you can find special restaurants called “uzeri”. As you have already guessed, the emphasis in them is on ouzo. Here you can taste different variations of this drink in combination with all kinds of snacks. Ouzo is served in tall glasses with cold water and ice.

Tsipuro

Tsipuro. Photo from www.agrigate.gr

Another favorite drink of the Greeks is tsipouro, also called raki. According to legend, tsipouro was invented by Greek monks back in the 14th century. In Crete they produce a stronger version of this drink, called tsikoudia. The drink, containing from 40% to 70% alcohol, is made from the squeezed grapes. Sometimes other fruits and berries, such as quinces, strawberries, apples, and figs, are also used in its preparation. Greek raki should not be confused with Turkish raki, the two drinks have different tastes. Tsipouro is especially common in the northern part of Greece. It is usually drunk from a shot glass. You may feel a burning sensation in your throat after drinking it.

Metaxa

Metaxa. Photo from – www.gopixpic.com

A favorite drink in Greece and beyond is Metaxa. It is often referred to as cognac, although it is actually a brandy. Methaxa is made from wine that has been stored in oak barrels for 3 to 30 years, it is mixed with a herbal infusion, a year of muscat wine and rose petals. Then the methacce is aged for another six months. All this results in a drink that takes on the aroma of vanilla, oak and fruit and the mild taste of grape brandy. The number of stars and the taste of the methacs depends on how long the methacs has been aged in oak barrels.

Classification of methacs

  • METAXA PRIVATE RESERVE : has a refined aroma and a balanced rich taste. It is produced from distillates of 20-30 years of aging. You can buy Metaxa Private Reserve only in Greece. ‘
  • METAXA 5*: this is a classic drink of velvet and honey color with a light fruity flavor and unobtrusive vanilla – tobacco flavor.
  • METAHA 7* : it is the most popular brandy in the world. This brandy, aged for seven years, has a rich flavor and aroma of nutmeg wine.
  • METAXA DRY : matured for 12 years, it has no sweetness and its flavor can be called masculine.
  • METAXA GRAND OLYMPIAN RESERVE: this brandy is 8-15 years old. It is made of slightly dried grapes. The taste of the drink is austere, with light vanilla notes, and the aroma is very delicate.

Racomelo

Among all strong alcoholic drinks the youth of Greece give preference to rakomelo – a heated mixture of raki (tsipuro), cloves and cinnamon, with honey added.

Not only do Greek drinks taste great, but they are also unique! It was probably these drinks that the ancient Greek gods drank on Mount Olympus. And now every guest of sunny Greece has a possibility to treat himself to strong coffee, aromatic wine or tart methacs. We wish you do not miss this opportunity!

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