Ouzo has its roots in tsipouro, which is said to have been the work of a group of 14th-century monks on Mount Athos. One version of it was flavoured with anise. This version eventually came to be called ouzo.
Modern ouzo distillation largely took off in the beginning of the 19th century following Greek independence. The first ouzo distillery was founded in Tyrnavos in 1856 by Nikolaos Katsaros, giving birth to the famous ouzo Tyrnavou. When absinthe fell into disfavour in the early 20th century, ouzo was one of the products whose popularity rose to fill the gap; it was once called "a substitute for absinthe without the wormwood". In 1932, ouzo producers developed a method of distillation using copper stills that is now the standard method of production. One of the largest producers of ouzo today is Varvayanis (Βαρβαγιάννης), located in the town of Plomari in the southeast portion of the island of Lesbos, while in the same town Pitsiladi (Πιτσιλαδή), a variety of high-quality ouzo, is also distilled.
Ouzo is often served with a small plate of a variety of appetizers called mezes, usually small fresh fish, fries, olives and feta cheese. Ouzo can be described to have a similar taste to absinthe which is liquorice-like, but smoother.
On October 25, 2006, Greece won the right to label ouzo as an exclusively Greek product. The European Union now recognizes ouzo, as well as the Greek drinks tsipouro and tsikoudia, as products with a Protected Designation of Origin, which prohibits European makers other than Greece and Cyprus from using the name.
The origin of the name "ouzo" is disputed. A popular derivation is from the Italian "uso Massalia"—for use in Marseille—stamped on selected silkworm cocoons exported from Tyrnavos in the 19th century. According to anecdote, this designation came to stand for "superior quality", which the spirit distilled as ouzo was thought to possess.
During a visit to Thessaly in 1896, the late professor Alexander Philadelpheus delivered to us valuable information on the origins of the word "ouzo", which has come to replace the word "tsipouro". According to the professor, tsipouro gradually became ouzo after the following event: Thessaly exported fine cocoons to Marseilles during the 19th century, and in order to distinguish the product, outgoing crates would be stamped with the words "uso Massalia"—Italian for "to be used in Marseille". One day, the Ottoman Greek consulate physician, named Anastas (Anastasios) Bey, happened to be visiting the town of Tyrnavos and was asked to sample the local tsipouro. Upon tasting the drink, the physician immediately exclaimed: "This is uso Massalia, my friends"—referring to its high quality. The term subsequently spread by word of mouth, until tsipouro gradually became known as ouzo.
- —The Times of Thessaly, 1959
Ouzo production begins with distillation in copper stills of 96% alcohol by volume (ABV) rectified spirit. Anise is added, sometimes with other flavorings such as star anise, fennel, mastic, cardamom, coriander, cloves, and cinnamon. The flavoring ingredients are often closely guarded company "recipes", and distinguish one ouzo from another. The result is a flavored alcoholic solution known as flavored ethyl alcohol, or more commonly as ouzo yeast—μαγιά ούζου in Greek—the term for "yeast" being used by Greeks metaphorically to denote that it serves as the starting point for ouzo production.
The ouzo yeast is then distilled. After several hours of distillation, a flavored distillate of approximately 80% ABV is produced. The spirit at the beginning of the distillation (heads) and end (tails) is usually removed to avoid light and heavy alcohols and aromatics. The heads and tails are usually mixed and distilled again. The product of this second distillation can be used to produce a different quality ouzo.
This technique of double-distillation is used by some distillers to differentiate their products.
Makers of high-quality "100% from distillation" ouzo proceed at this stage with water dilution, bringing the ouzo to its final ABV. But most producers combine the "ouzo yeast" with less expensive ethyl alcohol flavored with 0.05 percent natural anethole, before water dilution. Greek law dictates that in this case the ouzo yeast cannot be less than 20 percent of the final product.
Sugar may be added before water dilution, which is done mostly with ouzo from Southern Greece.
The final ABV is usually between 37.5 and 50 percent; the minimum allowed is 37.5 percent.
Ouzo production itself does not include fermentation.
In modern Greece, ouzeries (the suffix -erie is imported from French, like in Boulangerie or Pâtisserie) can be found in nearly all cities, towns, and villages. These café-like establishments serve ouzo with mezedes—appetizers such as octopus, salad, sardines, calamari, fried zucchini, and clams, among others. It is traditionally slowly sipped (usually mixed with water or ice) together with mezedes shared with others over a period of several hours in the early evening.
In other countries it is tradition to have ouzo in authentic Greek restaurants as an aperitif, served in a shot glass and deeply chilled before the meal is started. No water or ice is added but the drink is served very cold, enough to make some crystals form in the drink as it is served.
Ouzo can colloquially be referred to as a particularly strong drink, the cause of this being its sugar content. Sugar delays ethanol absorption in the stomach, and may thus mislead the drinker into thinking that they can drink more as they do not feel tipsy early on. Then the cumulative effect of ethanol appears and the drinker becomes inebriated rather quickly. This is why it is generally considered poor form to drink ouzo "dry hammer" ("ξεροσφύρι", xerosfýri, an idiomatic expression that means "drinking alcohol without eating anything") in Greece. The presence of food, especially fats or oils, in the upper digestive system prolongs the absorption of ethanol and ameliorates alcohol intoxication.
Ouzo is a clear liquid. However, when water or ice is added, ouzo turns a milky-white colour. This is because anethole, the essential oil of anise, is completely soluble in alcohol at approximately 38% ABV and above, but not in water. Diluting the spirit causes it to separate creating an emulsion, whose fine droplets scatter the light. This process is called louching, and is also found while preparing absinthe.
Similar aperitifs include oghi (from Armenia), mastika from Bulgaria and North Macedonia, rakı from Turkey, pastis (France), and arak (from the Levant). Its aniseed flavour is also similar to the anise-flavoured liqueurs of sambuca (Italy) and anís (Spain) and the stronger spirits of absinthe (France and Switzerland). Aguardiente (Colombia), made from sugar cane, is also similar. The Italian drink Pallini Mistra, named after the Greek city of Mystras in the Peloponnese is a version of ouzo made in Rome that closely resembles Greek and Cypriot ouzo.
Anethole (also known as anise camphor) is an organic compound that is widely used as a flavoring substance. It is a derivative of phenylpropene, a type of aromatic compound that occurs widely in nature, in essential oils. It contributes a large component of the odor and flavor of anise and fennel (both in the botanical family Apiaceae), anise myrtle (Myrtaceae), liquorice (Fabaceae), camphor, magnolia blossoms, and star anise (Illiciaceae). Closely related to anethole is its isomer estragole, abundant in tarragon (Asteraceae) and basil (Lamiaceae), that has a flavor reminiscent of anise. It is a colorless, fragrant, mildly volatile liquid. Anethole is only slightly soluble in water but exhibits high solubility in ethanol. This trait causes certain anise-flavored liqueurs to become opaque when diluted with water, the ouzo effect.Apéritif and digestif
Apéritifs () and digestifs () are drinks, typically alcoholic, that are normally served before (apéritif) or after (digestif) a meal.Arak (drink)
Arak or araq (Arabic: ﻋﺮﻕ) is a Levantine unsweetened distilled spirit (≈40–63% alc/vol or ≈80–126 proof) in the anise drinks family. The alcohol content may get as high as 95% if it is homemade according to Syrian, Israeli, and Lebanese traditions. It is a translucent white anise-flavored drink.Kafenio
A kafenio (everyday Greek καφενεíο, literary Greek καφενεῖον kafenion; plural kafenia) is a Greek café.
A kafenio typically serves various types of Greek coffee, including Greek coffee and frappé, as well as beer, retsina, and ouzo. Most kafenia provide meze or free snacks and rarely serve full meals. Kafenia were traditionally family-run businesses and furnished simply. The walls are often whitewashed. Kafenia often serve as social centers of the villages and islands where they are located. People socialize after work or play a game of cards. In previous centuries, the kafenio was a place where women were not welcome but now kafenia are frequented by girls and women.Kefalotyri
Kefalotyri or kefalotiri (Greek: κεφαλοτύρι) is a hard, salty white cheese made from sheep milk or goat's milk (or both) in Greece and Cyprus. A similar cheese Kefalograviera, also made from sheep or goat milk (or both), is sometimes sold outside Greece and Cyprus as Kefalotyri. Depending on the mixture of milk used in the process the color can vary between yellow and white.A very hard cheese, kefalotyri can be consumed as is, fried in olive oil for a dish called saganaki, or added to foods such as pasta dishes, meat, or cooked vegetables, and is especially suited for grating. It is also used along with feta cheese in the vast majority of recipes for Spanakopita, where many recipes say to substitute with Romano or Parmesan if kefalotyri cannot be obtained. This is a popular and well-known cheese, establishing its roots in Greece during the Byzantine era. It can be found in some gourmet or speciality stores in other countries. Young cheeses take two to three months to ripen. An aged kefalotyri, a year old or more, is drier with a stronger flavour, and may be eaten as a meze with ouzo, or grated on food.Lesbos
Lesbos (, US: ; Greek: Λέσβος Lesbos, pronounced [ˈlezvos]) is an island located in the northeastern Aegean Sea. It has an area of 1,633 km2 (631 sq mi) with 320 kilometres (199 miles) of coastline, making it the third largest island in Greece. It is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait and in late Palaeolithic/Mesolithic times was joined to the Anatolian mainland before the end of the last glacial period.
Lesbos is also the name of a regional unit of the North Aegean region, within which Lesbos island is one of five governing islands. The others are Chios, Ikaria, Lemnos, and Samos. The North Aegean region governs nine inhabited islands: Lesbos, Chios, Psara, Oinousses, Ikaria, Fournoi Korseon, Lemnos, Agios Efstratios and Samos. The capital of the North Aegean Region is Mytilene. The population of Lesbos is approximately 86,000, a third of whom live in its capital, Mytilene, in the southeastern part of the island. The remaining population is distributed in small towns and villages. The largest are Plomari, Kalloni, the Gera Villages, Agiassos, Eresos, and Molyvos (the ancient Mythimna).
According to later Greek writers, Mytilene was founded in the 11th century BC by the family Penthilidae, who arrived from Thessaly and ruled the city-state until a popular revolt (590–580 BC) led by Pittacus of Mytilene ended their rule. In fact the archaeological and linguistic record may indicate a late Iron Age arrival of Greek settlers although references in Late Bronze Age Hittite archives indicate a likely Greek presence then. The name Mytilene itself seems to be of Hittite origin. According to Homer's Iliad, Lesbos was part of the kingdom of Priam, which was based in Anatolia (present day Turkey). Much work remains to be done to determine just what happened and when. In the Middle Ages, it was under Byzantine and then Genoese rule. Lesbos was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1462. The Ottomans then ruled the island until the First Balkan War in 1912, when it became part of the Kingdom of Greece.Limoncello
Limoncello (Italian pronunciation: [limonˈtʃɛlːo]) is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy, especially in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi, and islands of Procida, Ischia, and Capri. It is also produced in Calabria, Abruzzo, Basilicata, Apulia, Sicily, Sardinia, Liguria, Menton in France, and the Maltese island of Gozo. In northern Italy, the liqueur is often referred to instead as limoncino. It is also a popular homemade liqueur, with various recipes available online and in print.
Although there is debate about the exact origin of the drink, it is at least one hundred years old.Limoncello has usually a slightly turbid appearance, which originates from the presence of small (approx. 100 nanometers) essential oil droplets suspended in the drink. The spontaneous emulsification of hydrophobic essential oils in alcohol/water mixtures is often referred to as the ouzo effect.Liqueur
A liqueur (US: , UK: ) is an alcoholic drink flavored variously by fruits, herbs, spices, flowers, nuts or cream combined with distilled spirits. Often served with or after dessert, they are typically heavily sweetened and un-aged beyond a resting period during production, when necessary, for their flavors to mingle.
Liqueurs are historical descendants of herbal medicines. They were made in Italy as early as the 13th century, often prepared by monks (for example, Chartreuse). Today they are produced the world over, commonly served straight, over ice, with coffee, in cocktails, and used in cooking.
In some areas of the United States and Canada liqueurs are also referred to as cordials or schnapps, though the terms refer to different beverages elsewhere.Mandolin Abstractions
Mandolin Abstractions is an album by American musicians David Grisman and Andy Statman, released in 1983.Additional tracks on the CD reissue included "Japanese Sunrise", "Blackie and Sunburst", "Crosby, Stills and Nash", "Song of the Dawg" and "Ballad of Ouzo".Ouzeri
An ouzeri is a type of Greek tavern which serves ouzo (a Greek liquor) and mezedes, small finger foods.Ouzini
The ouzini is a mixed alcoholic cocktail invented by the novelist Michael Paraskos as an alternative national drink of Cyprus to the ubiquitous Brandy Sour.Using only native Cypriot ingredients, including Cypriot ouzo, the drink was invented in response to a campaign launched in 2014 by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation to encourage restaurants in Cyprus to offer customers Cypriot cuisine. According to Paraskos the drink tastes "like liquid aniseed balls", referring to the traditional boiled sweet, and is "ideal for a hot Cypriot evening before dinner."The drink features heavily in Michael Paraskos's novel In Search of Sixpence.Ouzo effect
The ouzo effect (also louche or spontaneous emulsification) is a cloudy (louche) oil-in-water emulsion that is formed when water is added to ouzo and other anise-flavored liqueurs and spirits, such as pastis, rakı, arak, sambuca and absinthe. Such microemulsions occur with only minimal mixing and are highly stable.Pastis
Pastis (French pronunciation: [pa.stis] ; UK: or US: ) is an anise-flavoured spirit and apéritif from France, typically containing less than 100 g/l sugar and 40–45% ABV (alcohol by volume).Plomari
Plomari (Greek: Πλωμάρι) is a town and a former municipality on the island of Lesbos, North Aegean, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Lesbos, of which it is a municipal unit. It is the only sizable coastal settlement in the south, and the second largest town on Lesbos. The municipal unit of Plomari is the southernmost on Lesbos island and has a land area of 122.452 km² and a 2011 census population of 5,602. Its largest towns or villages are Plomári, the former municipal seat (pop. 2,996), Plagiá (529), Palaiochóri (314), Megalochóri (325), and Akrási (214).Rakı
Raki or rakı (, , , Turkish pronunciation: [ɾaˈkɯ]) is a sweetened, often anise-flavoured, alcoholic drink that is popular in Albania, Turkic countries, Turkey, Greek Islands and in the Balkan countries as an apéritif. It is often served with seafood or meze. It is comparable to several other alcoholic beverages available around the Mediterranean and the Middle East, e.g. pastis, ouzo, sambuca, arak and aguardiente.
In Crete tsikoudia is a pomace brandy that is sometimes called rakı but made from grapes. It is used to make rakomelo, which is flavored with honey and cinnamon. Rakomelo is served warm during winter months.SPL Princess Anastasia (1986)
MS SPL Princess Anastasia is a cruiseferry owned by Moby St Peter Line. Until September 2010, she was known as Pride of Bilbao, operated by P&O Ferries on their Portsmouth–Bilbao route. The vessel was built in 1986 as Olympia at the Wärtsilä Perno Shipyard in Turku, Finland for Rederi AB Slite, Sweden for use in Viking Line traffic. She was sold by Irish Continental Group to St. Peter Line in December 2010.Sambuca
Sambuca (Italian pronunciation: [samˈbuːka]) is an Italian anise-flavoured, usually colourless, liqueur. Its most common variety is often referred to as white sambuca to differentiate it from other varieties that are deep blue in colour (black sambuca) or bright red (red sambuca). Like other anise-flavoured liqueurs, the ouzo effect is sometimes observed when combined with water.Torshi
Torshi (Aramaic ܡܟ̇ܠܠ, :Arabic: مخلل mukhallal, Persian: ترشى torshi; Kurdish: ترشى Tirşîn, tirşî, trshin; Turkish: turşu; Greek: τουρσί toursí; Bulgarian: туршия turshiya; Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian: turšija/туршија ; Albanian: turshi Hebrew: חמוצים, khamutsim; Macedonian: туршија) are the pickled vegetables of the cuisines of many Balkan and Middle East countries. The word turşu is ultimately derived from Persian tursh, which means 'sour'. In Turkic languages such as Turkish and Azerbaijani it is spelled turşu.
Torshi is common in varieties of Middle Eastern cuisine such as Arab cuisine, Turkish cuisine, and Iranian cuisine. Iran boasts a great variation of hundreds of different types of torshi according to regional customs and different events. In some families, no meal is considered complete without a bowl of torshi on the table. In Bulgarian cuisine, the most popular types are tsarska turshiya ("king's pickle") and selska turshiya ("country pickle"). Toursi is a traditional appetizer (meze) to go with arak, rakı, ouzo, tsipouro, and rakia. In some regions the torshi water (turşu suyu) is also drinkable and very popular in Turkey.
Making torshi at home is still a widespread tradition during the autumn months, even in cities. Torshi is often served in restaurants or it can be bought ready to eat from supermarkets.Tsipouro
Tsipouro (Greek: τσίπουρο) is a pomace brandy from Greece and in particular Thessaly, Epirus, Macedonia, and the island of Crete (where Cretans call it tsikoudia). Tsipouro is a strong distilled spirit containing 40-45% alcohol by volume and is produced from the pomace (the residue of the wine press). It comes in two types: pure and anise-flavoured.