Ouzo, Tsipouro and Meze
Ouzo has its roots in tsipouro (aka raki or tsikoudia) which is said to have been the work of a group of 14th-century monks on Mount Athos. It is flavored with or without anise. Gradually the production was spread in various parts of Greece, but its standardization started only the last decades of the 20th century. The production is based on the distillation of the mass that remains following the compression of the grape pulp to produce wine. A similar drink is also produced in other Mediterranean countries known under other names such as grappa or arak.
Ouzo is traditionally mixed with water, becoming milky white, sometimes with a faint blue tinge, and served in a narrow long and tall glass with ice cubes. Ouzo or tsipouro can also be drunk straight from a shot glass.
Ouzo or tsipouro is traditionally served with a small plate of a variety of appetizers called meze, usually small fish or seafood (octopus, sardines, calamari, clams), olives, sharp yellow cheese and/or feta cheese, slices of tomatoes and cucumbers fresh or pickled, dolmas rolled grapeleaves stuffed with rice, spicy sausages, and a wide variety of other snacks according to availability and choice, often served with toothpicks instead of forks. Meze is not a meal course like an appetizer (though meze dishes can be served as appetizers), but rather a dish, hot or cold, spicy or savory, often salty, that is served as a separate eating experience to complement and enhance the taste of the drink and to provide the backdrop for a social gathering. Unlike appetizers (orektika in Greek) which are intended to whet the appetite for the meal to come, it is common for groups of family and friends to gather or go out for meze, share several of these delightful dishes, between drinks, conversation, and laughter. The little plates are shared by everyone at the table, which not only provides a wonderful variety of flavor and texture sensations but also creates the kind of happy, convivial (perhaps noisy) atmosphere for which Greeks are well known.
|Athens Twilight with Drinks and Meze DishesSmall Group Tour |
Athens at night can transform even the most skeptical romantic. Come experience a completely different side to the city as you walk through its historical center and bustling neighborhoods after dark. Listen to urban stories and myths, sample the best local spirits, and try mouthwatering finger food, in an Athens only known by locals!