Greece is a place where you can find rich culture, beautiful nature, and a diverse range of drinks. From wines to liqueurs, Greece offers diversity in traditional drinks as well.
If you wonder “What do Greeks drink?”, you’ll find the answer in the guide about Greek drinks below.
Traditional Drinks in Greece
Ouzo is the first Greek national drink that comes to mind when you ask about a traditional Greek drink. Since the time it was made in Thessaly in 1856, ouzo has been being consumed by many people.
It’s a distilled drink made with anethol oil in anise, anise oil, fennel seeds, and some other local herbs. It’s a grain or grape-based drink. Greek alcohol ouzo is especially popular in summer. You dilute the aperitif ouzo smell by adding water and ice to ouzo liquor, making its color turn white. People usually accompany ouzo alcohol with Greek mezes such as sardines or grilled octopus. Ouzo alcohol percentage is 37.5 percent.
You can find hundreds of brands that sell ouzo in Greece.
Tsipouro is another Greek alcohol that is very similar to tsikoudia and raki. Their difference from ouzo is their being grape distillates. It’s believed that tsipouro was first begun to be consumed in the 14th century in Mount Athos. Then, it spread to Macedonia and other parts of Greece after that period. The alcohol percentage is higher than that of ouzo, being around 40-45 percent. Tsipouro is also accompanied with mezes, however, it’s drunk straight.
There are tsipouros made with and without anise. You usually wait for tsipouro in the freezer before consuming it.
Raki vs Tsipouro
There are some differences between tsipouro and raki although some people confuse them with each other. Both Greek spirits are made from grapes. Raki comes from Crete while tsipouro is from mainland Greece. In addition, the alcohol percentage and inclusion of aniseed are another difference between these two popular drinks in Greece.
Tsikoudia is another Greek drink that Cretans and locals call raki. In mainland Greece, it’s also called tsipouro. Tsikoudia is distilled from grape pomace. The grapes are obtained from the leftovers used for winemaking. For this reason, you’ll find that many wineries in Greece also produce tsikoudia. Usually, people in Greece drink tsikoudia with ice or from the freezer. Some restaurants also serve tsikoudia as complimentary Greek aperitif served with fruits. So, if you wonder what to drink with Greek food, tsikoudia can be a good alternative.
Metaxa is another famous Greek drink that is produced only in Greece. Its name comes from Spyros Metaxas who, in a way, created this drink in 1888. Metaxa is made with a combination of wine distillates and Mediterranean botanicals in oak barrels.
Greeks usually drink it straight or with one ice cube. You can know the quality of Metaxa through the number of stars that corresponds to the number of years it’s aged. There are five, seven, or 12 stars labeled on Metaxa bottles. Greek cocktails made with Metaxa include Greek tycoon, coffee royale, and harbor light.
Tentura of Patras
Tentura is a Greek liquor that originated in the city of Patra, in the east of Peloponnese. It dates back to the 15th century. It’s named after the Italian word “tincture”. It’s usually served in small shot glasses on the rocks. You can also add tentura to cocktails or coffee.
The ingredients include cinnamon and cloves, alcohol, nutmeg, citrus fruits, and sugar. The base alcohol inside this drink is usually brandy or rum. People usually serve tentura as a Greek after-dinner drink because of its digestive quality.
Kitron is another type of Greece liquor. The original place of production of kitron is the Greek island of Naxos. The base of kitron’s taste is the leaves of the citron tree. Producers of this Greek drink collect the leaves and soak them in alcohol and water. Then, they distill it a few times to get Kitron distillate. Sugar and water are added after this step.
What is the oldest alcoholic beverage in Greece? Apparently, mastiha, or masticha, was started to be produced 2,500 years ago. It’s made from the resin of mastic trees on Chios island. The hardening drops of resin are called the tears of Chios. The drink is produced in a very limited area suitable for production. It is in the south of the island.
People usually drink Mastiha liquor on the rocks or as an aperitif. Some mixologists also produce several cocktails with Mastiha. You can find such cocktails, especially in Athens. You need to store the drink in the freezer.
Popular Greek Wines
Wine is also an important element of Greek alcoholic drinks. Two special Greek wines are especially popular in Greece: Retsina wine and Vinsanto wine.
Retsina is a wine combined with Aleppo pine resin. You can best try retsina wine in a taverna. In Athens, bars also serve the wine with soda, making it more affordable.
The name Vinsanto comes from Vin di Santorini (wine of Santorini). It’s made with sun-dried grapes. It’s endemic to this island, and its cultivation dates back to the 12th century. You can best consume this wine with fruits and desserts. It has an amber color.
Vinsanto wine was even granted a Gold Medal in the Challenge International du Vin 2019 in France. In Santorini, wineries provide educational tours and wine tasting sessions for visitors as well.
Finally, the beers… In Greece and on its many islands, you’ll find over 70 different types of beers. Many micro-breweries have even won international awards. These include Nissos on Tinos and Septem on Evia. The popular Greek beer labels are Fix and Mythos, Fix being the first to be produced in 1864. Both beers are bought out by Heineken and Carlsberg.
Some popular breweries in Greece include Zeos, Santorini Donkey, Corfu Red, Lesvos Sigri, and Voreia.
So, drinking in Greece is fun, and you’ll learn many types of drinks in this way.