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What is Traditional Greek Alcohol?

Traditional Greek alcohol includes beverages like ouzo, tsipouro, and retsina. Ouzo is an anise-flavored spirit often diluted with water and served as an aperitif. Tsipouro is a strong spirit made from grape pomace and is usually enjoyed after meals. More so, retsina is a white or rosé wine flavored with pine resin, offering a distinct taste. Read on for detailed information about these beverages and some other types.


Ouzo is a traditional Greek alcoholic beverage known for its distinct anise flavor. It’s a clear or slightly yellowish spirit that turns cloudy when mixed with water due to the natural oils in anise. Ouzo is typically enjoyed as an aperitif, often served in small glasses with ice and water, creating a milky appearance called the “ouzo effect.” It’s a popular social drink in Greece, often accompanied by small appetizers or “mezes.” 


Tsipouro is a robust Greek spirit made from the residue left after grapes are pressed for winemaking. This residue, which includes grape skins, stems, and seeds, is known as grape pomace. Tsipouro is a pomace brandy, and its production involves fermenting and distilling the pomace to create a high-alcohol spirit. It can be enjoyed as a potent drink, often served in small glasses. 


Retsina is a traditional Greek wine that stands out due to its unique flavor, which comes from adding pine resin during winemaking. Historically, pine resin was used to seal and preserve wine vessels, but over time, the resin’s flavor infused into the wine. This creates the distinctive taste that characterizes retsina. Retsina is often consumed in Greece as an accompaniment to food, particularly with traditional dishes like seafood, grilled meats, and mezes (small appetizers). 


Rakomelo is a Greek alcoholic beverage combining two key ingredients: raki (tsikoudia), grape-based pomace brandy, and honey. To make rakomelo, raki is mixed with honey and often infused with various spices and herbs, such as cinnamon, cloves, and citrus peels. This mixture is then heated or steeped to allow the flavors to meld together. The resulting drink has a sweet and aromatic taste, combining the warmth of the raki with the sweetness of honey.


Metaxa is a Greek brandy known for its distinct flavor and smoothness. It was created by Spyros Metaxas in 1888 and has since become a well-known and widely consumed Greek spirit. Metaxa is made from a blend of wine distillates, aged wine, and Mediterranean botanicals. This can include muscat wine from the island of Samos, along with rose petals, anise, and other aromatic herbs. The spirit is then aged in oak barrels, contributing to its rich and complex flavor profile.

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