Photograph: Geography Images/Common Photographs Group through Getty Photographs
Welcome to Gateways To Drinkery, the place The Takeout gives an entry-level course on our favourite libations, and a few ideas on the place to begin consuming them.
The lowdown: Within the vastly underrated romantic comedy My Massive Fats Greek Marriage ceremony, the quiet, non-Greek dad and mom of the groom get their first rowdy introduction to Toula Portokalos’ household and Greek tradition over photographs of ouzo. “Mmm, licorice,” Bruce Grey’s Rodney Miller remarks as he knocks again the primary of a number of photographs. For first-time ouzo drinkers, they certain do swallow the very robust, anise-flavored Greek aperitif with ease.
The primary ouzo distillery opened in Greece in 1856, however the drink’s place in Greek historical past goes again to the 14th century, when its predecessor tsipouro was first made by Greek Orthodox monks on Mount Athos in Macedonia. Thought of Greek grappa, tsipouro is a distilled spirit comprised of pomace, the residue left behind on a wine press. Tsipouro continues to be poured throughout Greece and is available in two flavors: pure or anise. Although its anise variation is comparable in style to ouzo, the bottom spirit used to make ouzo is increased in alcohol content material than with tsipouro, so all of it comes all the way down to a slight distinction in manufacturing.
Nikolaos Katsaros based the primary ouzo distillery in Tirnavos—within the Thessaly area of Greece—shortly after Greek independence. By the 20th century, absinthe, which is analogous in style to ouzo, was beginning to be labeled as harmful, addictive, and psychoactive. European international locations and the U.S. began banning absinthe, and ouzo bought its second. France, particularly, noticed an increase within the recognition of ouzo, which can be just like France’s anise-flavored pastis.
In 2006, Greece acquired a European Union-approved Protected Designation of Origin standing for ouzo, permitting Greek ouzo-makers to label the product as solely Greek. To this present day, ouzo can solely be produced in Greece and Cyprus (in the identical means champagne comes solely from Champagne, and known as glowing wine in every single place else). It’s thought of greater than a drink in its dwelling nation; ouzo has turn into a practice intrinsically tied to Greece’s meals and beverage tradition.
The style: As you’ve most likely gathered by now, ouzo is extraordinarily anise-forward. However identical to the very menthol-forward fernet, there’s extra complexity happening after the preliminary style. In contrast to fernet, there’s a refined sweetness to ouzo. It’s a little bit minty, clean, refreshing. Hints of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and fennel can come by means of, relying on the model.
Anise-flavored aperitifs are in style all around the world, and ouzo is similar to France’s pastis, Italy’s sambuca, Turkey’s raki, and Scandinavia’s aquavit. For those who don’t like black licorice, you’re higher off skipping ouzo altogether, though some fancy cocktail bars in Greece mix ouzo with sufficient different flavors that the anise turns into a refined layer. Ouzo and limoncello style excellent collectively.
Attainable gateway: Don’t make the identical mistake because the Millers in My Massive Fats Greek Marriage ceremony by beginning off with straight photographs of ouzo. The most effective, and commonest, solution to get pleasure from ouzo is over ice with a little bit water added. Water combined with ouzo creates a cloudy microemulsion, which has come to be known as the “ouzo impact.” All the time drink it chilly.
Although known as an aperitif, ouzo ought to at all times be consumed with meals, not earlier than it. In Greece, ouzo historically accompanies mezedes, small plates of meals. It’s frowned upon to drink ouzo with out some type of meals pairing, even when it’s simply nuts and olives. To go full conventional, drink it with grilled octopus or prawns.
A number of the frequent manufacturers of ouzo to search out within the U.S. are Barbayanni and Ouzo 12. If you wish to ease into ouzo, attempt Plomari, which is barely extra delicate than most conventional ouzos, interesting to a extra delicate pallette.
Brettos bar and distillery in Athens (Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Photographs)
Subsequent steps: There’s truthfully solely a lot ouzo exploring you are able to do within the U.S. To get the total cultural expertise of ouzo, you need to make the journey to Greece, the place even small bars and tavernas supply an unlimited vary of various ouzos. You may nonetheless go to the unique ouzo distillery in Tirnavos. Brettos, Athens’ longest-running distillery which opened in 1909, is a must-go spot for any alcohol fans visiting Greece (along with the ouzo, attempt their brandy!). Lesvos is without doubt one of the finest islands for ouzo consuming and is dwelling to many small, family-run ouzo corporations.
Discuss like an professional: Toasting is an enormous a part of Greek consuming tradition, however don’t say “opa!” once you’re served ouzo. As a substitute, say “yamas!” which extra precisely means cheers (however actually interprets to “well being”).