There are many different types of Greek alcohol, all of which have distinct flavor profiles. Discovering the ins and outs of each kind of alcohol can be an educational way to learn which types work best in various cocktails or how to pair them with a wide array of dishes. The five main types of Greek alcohol include Ouzo, Mastika, Tsipouro, Brandy, and Raki.
You can only learn about Greek alcohol by starting with the national drink! Ouzo is a licorice-flavored spirit created from alcohol, water, and anise seeds. Additional flavors are commonly added using coriander, fennel, or mastic. The resulting beverage is strong, sweet, and flavorful in all the right ways.
Ouzo is typically served chilled and mixed with water. The mixture creates a louching effect, essentially cloudiness due to the water’s inability to absorb the anise seed oil within the drink. Ouzo is usually consumed before or after a meal rather than alongside, though it is popular with appetizers. It is a crowd favorite for Greeks and tourists alike.
Mastika is an old beverage – historians believe it existed as long as 2,000 years ago! This beverage comes from a resin derived from the mastika tree, which is native to the island of Chios. The wax is gathered much like syrup: incisions are made in the bark and allowed to drip out before hardening. The resin is then washed and soaked in alcohol, creating a liqueur with a sweetness reminiscent of pine and aniseed. Typically, the beverage is served chilled, but it is also used in cocktails and mixed drinks.
The grape remnants from winemaking create Tsipouro, a clear spirit with a strong flavor. It is made by distilling in stills made of copper before being aged in oak barrels. The result is one of Greece’s most loved alcohols! Tsipouro is served chilled and by itself. Bartenders only commonly use it in mixed drinks.
Greek brandy is made from wine, particularly those made from the Savatiano grapes. It requires aging in oak barrels for at least three years and boasts a smooth, complex flavor. Many brands offer quality Greek brandy, including Metaxa, Idoniko Tsipouro, and Kourtaki. Each brand offers different types of brandy with slightly different flavors.
Like Ouzo, Tsikoudia is a licorice-flavored spirit that families or individuals commonly create at home. It is developed by distilling grape pomace and can vary in taste depending on the recipe used. It is also widely used in cooking or in shot glasses for celebratory events.