Along with a tasty meal from Greek cuisine goes a Tsipouro drink- and that’s a given for many. Everybody weighs the options in terms of food and drinks before visiting a place. However, not everybody comes across the best of them at the right time. The Tsipouro drink has a long history, and people from all the corners of the world that tried it might take a sip or two- and decide to buy a bottle for their dear ones at home. Sharing is caring, after all.
History of the Tsipouro drink
- Short introduction
Tsipouro is a traditional Greek alcoholic drink and it’s among the strongest ones, with a percentage ranging from 36 to 45. Around the 14th Century, Tsipouro was born at the Holy Mountain Athos. The monks religiously perfected their conventional method of wine-making, until they created Tsipouro, by fermenting and then distilling the grape skin and juice. They say that the monks used to give this drink to the poor.
- How it’s made
The raw material for this drink is leftovers which resulted in the process of wine-making, by pressing grapes. It has to contain the skin, grape seeds, pulp, and stems. The leftovers from grapes during the wine-making period are put into an alembic, which is used for distilling. In other words, it’s a specially designed boiler. The technique resembles that used for making French cognac.
- How it’s served
Tsipouro is either pure or anise-flavored. When it’s pure, it’s not served with ice or cold water. However, in its anise-flavored version, adding water or ice will make it more similar to Ouzo, another distillate widely appreciated. Tsipouro with anise is served with appetizers, known as meze, mezze, or Mazza in Greek, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cooking. Depending on the part of the country, the mezes vary considerably. Usually, they range from olives, types of cheese, sausages, and meat, to fish, moussaka, octopus, in the part closer to the sea.
- How strong is Tsipouro?
They say for great results, start early. But the alcohol connoisseurs might think twice before applying the rule when it comes to Tsipouro, as its percentage ranges up to 45% alcohol. So, it might be better to drink it later, not right after you woke up, in case you don’t want to go back to sleep.
- Tsipouro: With or Without Anise?
Drinking comes in many shapes, sizes, flavors. Tsipouro is known to be of two categories, namely with and without anise.
What’s anise, first of all? Anise is an annual flavored plant, of the herbaceous family. The blooming period is June-September, and its leaves are rare. The flowers are small, white, and highly productive in dense umbels. The fruits are small and green, usually collected from the end of August to the start of September.
Very popular around the Mediterranean, anise is widely used in the making of alcoholic drinks and flavoring food.
Tsipouro, also known as Tsikoudia or Raki in Crete, changes its taste depending on the use of anise. The use of anise depends on the region as well: central and northern regions are most likely to use it.
Some recommend drinking Tsipouro without anise, so in its pure form, to enjoy its flavors. The anise is already strong, so mixing it with the drink might cover Tsipouro’s pure taste. But there is no accounting for tastes.
- Where to drink Tsipouro?
Widely used at social gatherings, Tsipouro is one of the most successful alcoholic beverages in the Greek tradition. Bringing people together over the centuries, Tsipouro can be found in any Greek restaurant. Sure, not on the first page of the menu, but certainly at spirits, among with Ouzo.
- What’s the difference between Tsipouro and Ouzo?
Many associate these drinks because of the anise, but there are some differences in terms of taste and flavor, as well. In contrast with Tsipouro, Ouzo contains a smaller percentage of grape distillation. However, these anise-flavored beverages have in common the tradition of being mixed with water.
- Best appetizers for Tsipouro
With a wide variety of meze to enjoy with Tsipouro, the Greek cuisine takes account of all the tastes: savory or spicy, hot and cold, there’s a meze for everybody. The small dishes consist of seafood, salads, meat, vegetables of all types. The most popular meze includes grilled octopus, garlic bread, beans, cheese, olives. Meze is not only served with Tsipouro, but with any distilled drinks.
- Do I have to mix Tsipouro with water or ice?
According to the Greek manufacturers, Tsipouro is best served out of the freezer. Fair enough- any distillate tastes better cold. While some dilute it with water, others simply add ice in the shot glass. Certainly, you’ll remember drinking Tsipouro for the first time. At least if you don’t drink too much of it.
Every country has a specialty and tourists willing to find out which it is. Exploring the realm of drinks or foods with its variety of flavors, ingredients, and techniques is one of the most enjoyable activities for people, and nobody can claim they don’t like to eat or drink. Sure, it’s a matter of taste what each of us would rather have for breakfast, dinner, or lunch. However, in terms of traveling, especially in places you’ve never been before, it’s worth trying more options.
We only live once, but once might be enough, if done right. So, if you have the chance to try new things, see new places, meet new people, do it with an open heart and mind. We should think of culture as something divided between countries not because one is better than the other, but because each has to provide something. It’s a certain balance. Same with a drink, for example, Tsipouro, by simply being divided into anise and anise-free. So, if you have the chance to go to Greece and give it a shot!
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