Wine Importing and Marketing Services

Ouzo 101: An Introduction to Greece’s Celebratory Spirit

Aerial View of Ouzo

Although it has existed for centuries, ouzo reigns as one of the most enigmatic spirits. Blame it on the movies: fictitious weddings portraying plate-smashing with celebratory shots going down faster than the new in-laws’ judgmental opinions. Opa?

Jokes aside, ouzo does require some explanation. It remains a popular Greek drink because of its timeless simplicity, which is itself a cause for celebration. Without exotic mixers or garnishes, this traditional Greek spirit should be sipped (not chugged) with friends and food.

To break down other misconceptions, we reached out to Brettos, the renowned and oldest distillery standing in Athens. Owner Arianna Papadonikolaki says ouzo production does not involve grapes at all, but aromatic grains, botanical herbs and anise added to a rectified wine base. Because Greek distilleries are often family-run for generations, closely guarded ingredients often yield unique flavor profiles distinctive to their locations. Yet, the magic is in the distilling: The more the better. Formulated with a special recipe dating back to 1909, Brettos Black Label is 100 proof and distilled four times, resulting in a smooth velvety taste.