The most famous and well-traveled of all the Greek alcoholic beverages, ouzo is a drink that reminds most people of warm days by the sea (in Greece only hardcore ouzo lovers order it in the middle of the winter).
It is traditionally produced in copper stills, where alcohol is mixed with water, aniseed, and other herbs and spices like fennel, cloves, and coriander. To be called ouzo, at least 20% of the alcoholic content must be flavored by distillation. The finished product is a dry, aniseed flavored spirit that is great as an aperitif. When water or ice is added to it, the anise makes it turn a cloudy white color, which is how most people know it.
How to best enjoy a glass of ouzo
While usually diluted with ice and water, some argue that ouzo should be enjoyed straight. If, however, you prefer a less fiery drink, make sure you pour the ouzo into your glass first, and then slowly add the water and ice. This way, the spirit is chilled slowly, keeping all the flavors intact. Or so it’s said.
The perfect pairing for ouzo is seafood. Enjoy it at seaside restaurants with meze dishes such as grilled octopus and shrimp. When cooking seafood at home, ouzo is also an excellent ingredient (see recipe below).
Recipe: Squid with Ouzo
Pour the oil into a large non-stick pan over high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and the squid, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the squid is cooked through but hasn’t released it’s juices.
Add the ouzo and cook until evaporated.
Add the lemon balm and serve.
1 kg squid, cut into rings and pieces
1 1/2 shots of ouzo
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh lemon balm
5-6 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
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