Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ouzo - The Greek's Favorite Pre-Dinner Drink

Ouzo is an an anise-flavored drink usually consumed prior to a meal or during mezzes (small, Greek appetizer-size plates)  - and a favorite of the Greeks!  Many say it has a licorice-type taste, and be aware - it's a pretty strong drink! Because of it's higher sugar content, drinkers of ouzo typically feel it's effects early-on.

It can be consumed straight-up, or mixed with water. Often compared to it's similar, but stronger French counterpart, absinthe - ouzo can also be prepared by louching - which is when it's emulsified with water or ice. If you add water or ice to ouzo, it  will turn milky white - because the essential oil in the anise is not soluble in water.

In modern Greece, it's found all over the country, even in very small towns and villages; and a common aperitif in the cafes and Greek restaurants. It is meant to be sipped slowly, together with mezzes or before the meal, and shared with others over a period of several hours in the early evening.

So before you order your ouzo, make sure you're planning to eat a bit, stay a while - and enjoy the atmosphere.

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