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Volos: Greece’s Capital of Tsipouro

Volos tsipouro
Τhe city of Volos is the capital of tsipouro. Credit: Hajotthu/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Nestled between the stunning slopes of Mount Pelio and the Pagasetic Gulf in the Aegean sea, Volos is a picturesque city known for its local restaurants that also serve tsipouro.

These establishments are called tsipouradika, and they serve up top-quality Greek tsipouro accompanied by gourmet plates.

The coastal city, an important port between Europe and Asia, is the sixth most populous in Greece, is situated almost halfway between Athens and Thessaloniki.

Volos is thought to be built on the ancient remnants of the city Iolcus, home to Jason, mythic leader of the Argonauts.

Along with its ancient history, stunning natural surroundings, and important port, Volos is famous around Greece for its traditional tsipouradika, where the Greek spirit tsipouro is served with local delicacies with the famous Greek generosity.

In the small city of just under 150,000 people, there are nearly 600 of these iconic tsipouradika!

volos tsipouro
Tsipouro. Credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Tsipouro is a strong Greek spirit made up of 40-45% alcohol. Born out of the poverty and ingenuity of rural Greeks, tsipouro is made from pomace — the stems, seeds, and skins of grapes that are left over from the winemaking process.

Tsipouro comes in two varieties — either flavored with anise, like ouzo, or plain.

Tips for the Tsipouradika of Volos

In the authentic tsipouradika that line the streets of the seaside city, guests usually never order any food.

Instead, patrons, always in a large group of friends and family, order however much tsipouro, anise-flavored or plain, that they would like.

As they receive their tsipouro, which is always served cold in small glasses, hungry guests are bestowed with a round of delicious small plates of savory cheeses, vegetables, or seafood. As they continue to order more rounds of the strong spirit, patrons are wowed by even more complex and filling dishes, all included in the price of the tsipouro.

volos tsipouro
A Christmas tree decorated with empty bottles of tsipouro in Volos. Credit: JohnTikis/Twitter

If you’re really hungry, resist the urge to order something off the menu at an extra price –the dishes that accompany the tsipouro are delicious and filling enough in themselves.

As the dishes are free only with tsipouro, it is best not to order a different kind of drink if you want to try the delicacies that accompany it.

The History of Tsipouradika

These tsipouradika, now synonymous with Volos, were founded by Greek refugees from Asia Minor who had fled to the city. These refugees, who had traditionally eaten small plates of delicious, savory snacks while drinking spirits, brought this tradition with them to Greece.

Local workers were in search of a place to have a drink and eat with friends after a hard day of work, and tsipouradika, which melded the delicious cuisine of Asia Minor with local flavors and offered endless amounts of tsipouro, were the perfect fit.

This tradition has carried on to this day, as residents of Volos flock to the city’s many tsipouradika in the evenings after work, enjoying delicious food, cold tsipouro, and the company of their friends.

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