What is Ouzo?
Ouzo is an alcoholic beverage, flavoured with Anise, which is traditionally made and widely consumed in Greece and Cyprus. On October 26th 2006 the Greek government won the right from the European Union for Ouzo (and Tsipouro, see below) have a Protected Designation of Origin meaning that only Greek or Cypriot producers are allowed to use the name. Ouzo is, without doubt, the most popular alcoholic drink in Greece and is inseparably linked with Greek culture. There are innumerable a number of specialist bars across Greece, known locally as Ouzeries, where many types of Ouzo are available served with mezes, a wide range of small appetizers, think Greek tapas.
Ouzo Pelagos available at Fareham Wine Cellar
Ouzo can really be said to be a derivative of the Greek pomace brandy Tsipouro which is a Pomace Brandy, which is basically a brandy made from fermenting the must (grapes skins and pips) that is left over from the wine-making process. As such, Tsipouro has similarities to French Marc, Georgian Chacha and Italian Grappa. Tsipouro production can be traced back to the 14th Century when it was allegedly first produced by Greek Orthodox Monks on Mount Athos. Some Tsipouro was flavoured with Anise and this eventually became Ouzo.
To make Ouzo, fermented grape pomace is distilled in traditional copper, alembic stills and a clear white spirit with an alcoholic strenght of 96% is collected. At this stage the Anise flavouring is added to the neutral spirit and left to steep in the alcohol for many hours. After this maceration period the flavoured spirit is distilled again. After this re-distillation the final spirit is watered down to the desired alcoholic strength, which must, by law, exceed 37.5% abv. Each producer has a secret recipe which is a closely guarded secret and different producers may add other flavourings which can include other aromatics like cinnamon, cloves, coriander and cardommon. Each Ouzo producer’s, and there are over 300, product varies not only due to the type and proportion of aromatics in their secret recipe but also due to the different types, shapes and sizes of stills used in the distillation process.
How To Serve Ouzo?
As mentioned above Ouzo is traditionally served as an aperitif in the many Ouzeries where traditionalists will drink it with the addition of water or perhaps ice cubes.
Why Does Ouzo Go Cloudy?
When Ouzo mixed with water it becomes milky, cloudy white. This is because the essential oils (mainly anethole) that are extracted from Anise (or other aromatics) during the distillation process are soluble in relatively strong alcohol. However, when the Ouzo is diluted the oils become insoluble and emulsify producing the milky white drink. This is known as the ouzo effect and also the louche effect or spontaneous emulsification. A similar thing also happens with Pastis, Raki, Arak, Sambuca and Absinthe.
Other ways of serving Ouzo
Sometimes Ouzo is served ice-cold from the freezer in shot glasses whereby sometimes small crystals form. It can can also be used in a variety of cocktails and is also used as a cooking ingredient too.
Top up with Pepsi Cola
Mix in an old fashioned glass and top up with Pepsi Cola and ice if preferred. A popular drink in Canada.
1 measure Ouzo
Place three ice cubes in a glass, add the Ouzo and top up with grapefruit juice. Stir well.Invented by James Clippinger and named by Matt Calef.