Ouzo

The “all time proper” Greek aperitif

Ouzo is an exclusively Greek spirit drink. The word Ouzo cannot be translated. It is a name traditionally used to describe a spirit, the history of which is lost in the depths of time.

Ouzo is a mixture of ethanol (alcohol), water and various aromatic herbs, which always include anise. Other substances that can be used to aromatize it are fennel, star anise, mastic, cinnamon, clove, coriander, angelica root, linden blossom, cardamom, mint, etc.

Although there are no scientific studies regarding the effects of white spirits, most experts estimate that, in small doses (1-2 ouzo glasses) ouzo can have a beneficial effect to one’s health.

Ouzo “works” one’s appetite due to anethole, the essential oil that anise contains. Anise, which gives to ouzo its distinctive flavor, is believed to help in the absorption of iron in foods. Also anise has proved to calm contractions and has a mild, antiparasitic activity in the intestine. Moreover, ouzo causes vasodilation and reduces blood pressure.

Ouzo seems to have its origins in the Greek territory in the Byzantine era, but became widely known thanks mainly to Asia Minor refugees distillers. It is mostly distilled in Lesvos and Chios, but a long history of distilling ouzo has also northern Greece.

Serve “à la Greek” ouzo with ice and a little cold water in a tall glass before dinner, to “work” the appetite of your guests!

Ouzo is a recognized national product by the European Union, and the name “ouzo” cannot be used for similar European drinks.

MLGFB Tip:

Ouzo is a sweet but strong drink, so it’s better if you could accompany it with a meze:

  • The Authentic Greek Way to serve ouzo includes a small plate with olives, a slice of bread, a piece of cheese, a tomato cut in four and a slice of cucumber
  • In coastal areas it is served with small fishes and seafood, such as anchovies in vinegar or fried, sardines, octopus etc.
  • In mountainous areas the accompanying appetizers are more “fatty” and include pickles, sausages, spicy cheeses, etc.

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