Ouzo is very much Greek, and every Greek I know loves ouzo. We are currently living in a special place when it comes to this national drink as Lesvos claims to be the origin of where ouzo all began. Lesvian ouzo (smile) is preferred all over the world for its unique flavor, but don’t ask me because I think they all taste like sweet licorice, blah. I have tried on several occasions to taste various types, with fish and without, with ice and without, it never fails that I squish my face and regret my decision. Regardless, ouzo is truly a unique liqueur and everyone should try it once or twice.
A shot of Plomari ouzo above, it is naturally clear but when ice or water is added it becomes white and cloudy.
Ouzo is traditionally distilled in a copper boiler and flavored with some unique herb combinations, commonly including aniseed and fennel. Each distillation process lasts 9 hours, and it is said “the longer it takes, the better it becomes”.
The process begins by boiling the liquid and capturing the steam, the steam is then cooled and this condensed liquid is distilled again in handmade copper boilers. The “head” and “tail” (first and last portions) of the ouzo are always discarded to ensure the best consistent quality.
“The Ritual of Ouzo” is as follows:
1. It is traditionally served with mezedes (small appetizers)
2. It must be drunk face to face, meaning with friends and company
3. The flavors accompanying ouzo should be contrasting: sour/salty, sweet/bitter, spicy/refreshing
4. One from one, eating meze are to produce enjoyment, not always fulfillment
5. Best if served with ice and water to bring full flavors
6. Simplicity is essential – just enjoy yourself
While I may not enjoy ouzo, you very may well. It is genuinely an indescribable taste that I imagine you either love or hate. If you are interested in trying some, try to find ouzo from Lesvos… maybe even Plomari specifically.
Check out the Plomari ouzo site if you are interested in ordering or learning even more information, click HERE