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Aug 11
Last Updated on 22 September 2011

Ouzo

 

Ouzo is the traditional Greek drink and the island of Chios, known as the cradle of spices and aromas, produces a special variety of soft and smooth ouzo. The traditional ingredients include glykanissos (aniseed) combined with maratho (fennel), koliandro (cilantro) and the unique mastic. When mixing Ouzo with water, it turns whitish and opaque.

Its production starts with the mixture of grape skins or other local products with herbs and other spices such as star anise, coriander, cloves, angelica root, and even cinnamon and lime blossom. This mixture is then boiled in a copper still (kazania) and regulated by a taster. The resulting liquid is cooled and stored for several months before it is diluted to about 80 proof or 40 percent alcohol. However, homemade ouzo can be a deliriously strong 80 percent alcohol.

The Chian ouzo has been produced since many years ago and, as happens with many traditional drinks, it played a special role in the social life of the island. Although first it was only a men's beverage, it soon became a sign of happiness and good luck and it was hence served during special occasions as well as an aperitif before dinner. From a culinary point of view, its usual combination with seafood results in a rich and delightful taste.

Today it is still served as an aperitif and it is used in mixed drinks and cocktails. Accompanying mezedes such as ktapodaki (octopus), atherina (whitebait), throumba elia (a special kind of olive), toursia (pickles), tyri (cheese), the Chian ouzo is the perfect drink to enjoy the crystal deep blue sea or the embracing starry sky either during the day or at night.