Tourists who visit Greece should understand the unique drinking culture that exists in the country. The most traditional drinks are designed to be enjoyed with food, and it is rare for Greeks to drink alcohol without at least a little something to nibble on, even in bars. In the more rural parts of the country, complimentary small plates may be provided alongside glasses of beer or wine. A number of different traditional spirits exist in Greece, several of which have flavors that tourists may not expect, such as aniseed. Of course, Greece also has a rich wine and beer culture, along with some traditional nonalcoholic beverages. Some of the options that tourists may want to try include:
A product interwoven closely with the Greek lifestyle, “tsipouro” is almost always found on occasions of hospitality or entertainment. The spirit is produced by distilling grape marc, the fermented skins of grapes otherwise used to create wine. Individuals may serve tsipouro in a number of different ways depending on the season and time of day. Sometimes, tsipouro comes chilled as a form of refreshment while at other times it comes hot. Many people drink tsipouro instead of coffee or wine, and the flavors pair particularly well with feta, olives, ham, and other mezze, as well as desserts such as halva.
People who have not yet visited Greece may still be familiar with “ouzo,” as it has become a popular spirit around the world while remaining intimately connected to Greek culture. Ouzo has a very strong anise flavor and aroma. Frequently, people serve it with a bit of water and ice in a small glass, a preparation that turns the clear liquid to a cloudy white color. The slightly sweet flavor of the beverage means that it pairs very well with small fish, as well as fries and other appetizers.
Also known as “tsikoudia,” “raki” comes from the island of Crete. A strong spirit, raki usually contains between 40 percent and 65 percent alcohol by volume, so travelers should definitely keep this in mind when they try it. People who travel in Crete will undoubtedly find the spirit, but it has spread to other regions of the country. Usually, raki is offered as a sort of digestif after a meal in a restaurant or taverna. The annual distillation of raki in Crete has become a massive celebration complete with food, music, and dancing. Usually, this event takes place toward the end of October or the beginning of November, so this would be an ideal time to come to Crete. Tsikoudia is the Greek name for the drink, but the Turkish word “raki” has become more popular. The term raki come from a similar Turkish drink.
A uniquely Greek drink, “retsina” is a sort of wine cocktail that uses white wine or rose as a base and then adds the flavor of pine resin. The history of retsina stretches back thousands of years in Greece, and some say that the flavor profile comes from when Aleppo pine was used to seal amphorae and other wine vessels. The sealing process helped to keep air out while also adding the flavor of pine to the wine.
5. Greek Coffee
Travelers who have had Turkish coffee may think that the Greek variety is very similar. Unlike coffee from a lot of other places in the world, the Greek version is quite thick, as hot water is combined directly with very finely ground beans that are allowed to settle into the bottom of the cup. Individuals should be careful not to consume the grounds when they sip. What distinguishes Turkish from Greek coffee is the roasting process for the beans. Greek coffee uses beans that have not been roasted as long.
Many people around Greece drink Metaxa as a type of digestif after a large meal. The spirit tastes a lot like a sweet brandy. Unlike the other drinks on this list, Metaxa refers to a brand rather than a style. Produced in Athens since 1888, Metaxa has become one of the most widely exported spirits from Greece, so visitors may have seen it in other places around the world. The liqueur is made from white wine distillates aged in oak casts in an underground cellar before being blended with Muscat wine, rose petals, and herbs.
Another Greek after-dinner drink is “masticha,” which is created from the aromatic resin of the mastic tree that possesses therapeutic properties. The tree flourishes only in the southern part of Chios, and the liqueur is produced primarily on the island. The production process involves the distillation of mastic, which can only be undertaken in Greece, according to legislation from the European Union. The product has become available in a few international markets, but there is nothing like trying it for the first time in its homeland.