Ouzo alcoholic beverage

The pride and heritage of Greece, the alcoholic drink of Ouzo is legally recognized as national drink and can only be produced in Greece

The origin of the name “ouzo” is disputed. The most likely the name is from the Turkish word «grapes» (“üzüm”): a product from which alcohol was obtained in the East. The question arises, why then the Greek word was not used? Our answer to this is because Greece was occupied by the Turks and it was they who gave permission for the preparation of alcoholic drinks to the Greeks in their own language: Muslims were forbidden to produce and sell alcohol, although they drank, perhaps even using this word for cover when buying, since the Koran forbade them alcohol consume.

Other versions are folklore ones: relate the origin of the name to historical anecdotes dating to the late 19th century, and it is hardly possible to imagine that such a widespread drink had no name or it was lost. On the other hand, it is known that the first distillery of modern ouzo was founded in 1856 in the Greek town of Tyrnavos; and they say that the name appeared there but in the late 19th century—the problem again.

Some questions remain open: who, when and where for the first time made the ouzo, and all the more so since the neighboring to Greece countries of the Balkan Peninsula produce successfully drinks similar in technology and result. In Turkey it is raki, in Italy sambuca and in Bulgaria mastika. This is not the complete list of alcoholic beverages similar in composition and taste.

Some people believe that ouzo first began to be produced during the Byzantine time, but this is only speculation. It is more likely that the beginning of this drink was laid in Greece nevertheless by the Turks during the time of the Ottoman Empire. It has really similarity with Turkish raki or Arabian arak.

Its production is most widely established on the island of Lesvos as well as in the areas of Kalamata—which has given its name to an excellent olive variety—and over mentioned Tyrnavos in small distilleries located right among vineyards. Greek anise vodka, made in private small distilleries, is valued much higher than a drink made industrially. It is clear that the old technology is observed here: only pomace and herbs are used as the starting material for the preparation of drink.

The production technology of modern ouzo is not intricate. Fermented mash is made from squeezed grapes that is combined with ethyl alcohol by volume strength 40% (according to the law, in a drink prepared industrially, there must be at least 20% of grape rectified). Herbs and plant seeds are immersed in this mixture: anise seeds are an indispensable component, and then a set of herbs is arbitrary: each producer has his own. It can include coriander, mastic tree bark, chamomile, fennel, almonds, cloves, etc.

All this is infused for several months. How much exactly is up to each manufacturer to decide. Therefore, you will not find an ouzo drink with the same taste. Then all this will be anew distillated: the producers use old copper cubes but the manufacturers due it in huge stationary distillation apparatuses. The strength of the original drink should not exceed 50% ABV. That’s the whole process. Thereafter, the drink is bottled and sent to vendors.

It remains to answer the question how to drink ouzo? In Greece there are taverns called ouzeris, where only this drink is served as alcohol, but they propose a great many snacks: mostly seafood and the famous Greek salad called “Choriatikos” (a peasant).

Unfortunately, many people cannot tolerate the smell of anise: whether it is just anise flowers, alcohol with it or any other products including this plant. Therefore, it remains for them to watch with envy the Greeks, “playing chemists” with their ouzo when add water and ice to ouzo and its color changes: in a couple of seconds, the crystal clear drink turns cloudy white.

Ouzo is drunk in piles pure or diluted with water in a 1:1 ratio. When diluted, as mentioned above, it becomes cloudy but much softer. It allows you to feel the complexity of the flavor composition. Undiluted ouzo burns.

Ouzo is very insidious. You can drink it and feel completely sober, but when you decide to get up to go, it turns out that you do not really own the body. You should be aware of this drink’s feature so as not to get into trouble.

Like any alcohol received national status, ouzo is considered to be an elite one in the world market. This is only why it is worth a try. Gourmets and taste collectors will not be able to resist a pleasure of a closer acquaintance with the legendary Greek vodka.

Why it is legendary? Because Greeks are the coolest inventors of myths and legends!

November 2020

The text is based on an article from the web-page: https://rua.gr/news/sobmn/news/27754-gordost-ellinov-uzo.html