The hot Mediterranean sun smothers the harbor towns of Greece in the afternoon. The cafes fill with villagers quietly sipping the most Greek of all drinks – ouzo. This is the instant connotation in one’s mind when they hear the word “ouzo”. Or perhaps we think of that scene from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in which John Corbett’s in-laws get his parents sick-drunk on the stuff.
But times change and ouzo is not just a traditional drink sipped with mezes anymore. This time, ouzo- a purely Greek concoction- goes a step further and evolves from a traditional-almost dated- drink to a hip ingredient for trendy summery cocktails.
From Santorini to Mykonos bartenders saw a new challenge in Greece’s national spirit. They left aside the most classic way to serve ouzo mixed with water, and showcased highly creative interpretations of the Greek anise based liquor, making it the new must-cocktail-ingredient for summer 2011.
Combining technical perfection with subtle showmanship and an eagerness to experiment, bartenders around Greece created Ouzo Mojito, Ouzo Margarita, Ouzo Bloody Mary, ouzo with orange jam and mushed strawberries and green apple and basil and lavender. Ouzo with citrus juices, cranberry juice, banana, and mint.
Ouzo’s not-quite-sweet, licorice flavor blends nicely with all these summery fruit and herbs. You can even try it mixed with sour cherry spoon sweet. The essence of anise mixed with sour cherry or lavender brings back childhood memories from endless Greek steamy summers.
It combines the new with the old, making ouzo the new hot ingredient for “vintage” cocktails with a modern twist. Try some experimentation yourselves, just remember that ouzo has a very strong licorice flavor, so pair flavors accordingly.
Go on, forget the crisis. It’s summer. Sweeten your life a bit- the Greek way.
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