In Greece, ouzo is not just a drink but is way of life; an anise flavored alcoholic aperitif that all Greeks enjoy.
As real scotch is made only in Scotland, as real champagne is the sparkling wine that comes only from certain regions of France, so ouzo is made only in Greece; and no drink made outside of Greece and Cyprus is permitted to be called ouzo.
Though the word ouzo is derived from the Turkish ‘uzum’, which means grapes, this is not a grape based drink. The thing to watch out for with ouzo is that it has a kick like a mule, but one that is not instantly obvious.
Its alcohol content is not all that high, but it is the sugar content of the drink that can be misleading. So at first you may think that the drink is not hitting you but it does later because the alcohol takes time to get absorbed into the blood stream.
Here is some ouzo etiquette you may want to keep in mind if visiting the beautiful country of Greece:
- Though you can have it neat, it is recommended that you dilute it with some cold water and ice. When water is mixed into the ouzo it will turn milk white or cloudy because of the presence of the oil of anise.
- It is poor form to drink Ouzo ‘dry hammer’, or without eating anything, because this will get you tipsy quicker, and getting drunk may not be as well tolerated in Greece. Eating slows down the rate of intoxication so it is best to eat along with your ouzo.
- It is also a terrible idea to mix ouzo with other alcoholic drinks; it could have disastrous results.
- The idea with ouzo is to get into a good enough mood to relax and unwind and perhaps philosophize about life in general. And if you get into an argument about philosophy with a Greek person and they shout at you; it probably means they like you!
- Don’t ask for double ouzo in Greece; their measures are far more generous than at other places.
- It is an aperitif and is best had before a Greek meal; it will clear the palate without overpowering the subtle flavors of the food.
- To avoid hangover and dehydration, make sure you drink water along with your ouzo. The alcohol can quickly dehydrate you; this is particularly important on a hot day.
Photo Credit: sifis