The Greek Ouzo is a traditional alcoholic beverage that is widely known and enjoyed both in Greece and internationally. It has a distinctive anise flavor and is often referred to as Greece’s national drink. Here’s a short history of ouzo:

The origins of ouzo can be traced back to the late 19th century. It is believed to have been inspired by other anise-flavored spirits like arak from the Middle East and absinthe from France. However, ouzo has its unique character and is deeply rooted in Greek culture.

The production of ouzo involves the distillation of alcohol with various herbs and spices, with anise being the dominant flavoring ingredient. Other botanicals such as fennel, coriander, and mastic are often added to enhance the taste. The exact recipe and production methods can vary between distilleries, contributing to the diversity of ouzo flavors available.

The city of Plomari on the island of Lesvos is particularly renowned for its ouzo production. In the late 19th century, the Tsipouro spirit, a precursor to ouzo, was popular in this region. Ouzo gained prominence when a local entrepreneur named Nikolaos Katsaros started commercial production of the spirit in the early 20th century. Katsaros developed high-quality ouzo using copper stills and the pure water from the springs of Lesvos, which helped establish ouzo’s reputation as a superior Greek spirit.

Over time, ouzo became immensely popular throughout Greece, and its consumption spread to other parts of the world as well. It is often enjoyed as an aperitif or a digestive and is commonly served alongside meze, a selection of small dishes. Ouzo’s distinctive white color becomes milky and opaque when mixed with water or ice, a process known as the “ouzo effect.”

In 1989, the European Union established regulations defining ouzo as a unique Greek product. According to these regulations, ouzo must have a minimum alcohol content of 37.5% and be flavored primarily with anise.

Today, ouzo is not only produced by large commercial distilleries but also by smaller artisanal producers who often craft unique and flavorful variations.

Still, Plomari is the Ouzo Capital of the world. The drink continues to be an integral part of Greek culture, enjoyed during social gatherings, celebrations, and tavern meals.

In summary, the Greek ouzo is an alcoholic beverage with a rich history that dates back to the late 19th century. Its distinct anise flavor and cultural significance have made it a beloved drink in Greece and beyond.

Savor Greece visited Plomari and you can watch the episode #22 of season Two on July 23rd 2023 here

Full list of Savor Greece Season One here