Ouzo, Watermelon and Mint Granita Recipe 

The anise flavour of ouzo and the sweetness of watermelon come together in this granita to make the perfect after-dinner digestif that’s best served on a warm summer’s night. 

Serves 4


-230 g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar

-50 ml (13/4 fl oz) freshly squeezed lime juice

-1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) watermelon, peeled and roughly chopped

-80 ml (1/3 cup) ouzo 

-large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped, plus extra leaves to serve


-Place the sugar and lime juice in a saucepan over low heat, bring to a simmer, stirring, for 5–6 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

-Meanwhile, place the watermelon in a blender and blitz until smooth. Strain the juice through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring jug (you will need 600 ml/201/2 fl oz of juice) and pour into the lime sugar syrup, along with the ouzo and chopped mint, stirring to combine.

-Pour the granita mixture into a 1 litre (34 fl oz) capacity shallow tray and freeze for 1 hour. Use a fork to scrape the mixture from the edges of the tray into the centre, then spread out again. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes and repeat the process until the granita is completely frozen into a sandy texture of ice crystals.

-To serve, scoop the granita into glasses and top with extra mint leaves.

This recipe has been shared with IN+SIGHTS GREECE courtesy of Helena and Vikki Moursellas.

You can find this recipe and many more Greek feast ideas in their new book Peinao, out now. 

Best Greek Wines for Your Easter Table

Easter is nearly upon us once again and as with any holiday it sets new conundrums for wine pairing. It seems that no sooner has the dust of the busy Christmas and New Year period settled, we are again arranging for our Easter festivities and deciding on menus and most importantly, wine lists; just how are we going to pair these for our celebratory table? 

During childhood, Christmas is easily everyone’s favorite season. And why not, there’s Santa Claus and gifts; traditional desserts, reindeer, and snowmen. But as one grows older and wiser, it dawns on every Christian that Easter is indeed the core event of the Christian experience.

The very foundation of Christianity revolves around the Holy Week (which starts on the Sunday preceding Easter). Unlike Christmas, which has become more about offering gifts than commemorating the humble incarnation of Christ, Easter still retains the very essence of the faith. After the 40-day period of Lent, which includes abstinence — from meat, fish, dairy, alcohol, and smoking — and days of fasting and prayer, Easter is celebrated with a feast.

Insights Greece - Best Greek Wines for Your Easter Table
Santorini of Argyros Estate

Lent fasting ends on Holy Saturday with the Resurrection where we all gather at home to crack each other’s red-dyed egg and enjoy a dish of the hearty, viscous and sweet-smelling magiritsa, which is a Greek traditional soup whose main characteristics are the aromas of fennel, dill and the sour taste, that match respectively to a glass of wine with good acidity and rich aromas.

Personally, I would choose an Assyrtiko from the beautiful island of Santorini, which affords some of the best and most notable versions of the grape. The “Santorini” of Argyros Estate with its full body and “aggressive” acidity, will penetrate the greasiness of the dish, refreshing the mouth and balancing at the same time the lemonish character of the soup. Alternatively, the “Santorini” of Sigalas Estate or the “34” of Karamolegos Winery will fit with our magiritsa ideally. 

The lunch table on Easter Sunday consists mainly of lamb or goat cooked in the oven or grilled and kokoretsi. Kokoretsi consists of lamb or goat organ meats like intestines, lungs, liver and sweetbreads. All the above dishes call for wines with a rich body, intense acidity to break down the fattiness of the meat and noticeable tannins to bind to the protein.

Insights Greece - Best Greek Wines for Your Easter Table
Chateau Julia Agiorgitiko from Domaine Costa Lazaridi

“Chateau Julia Agiorgitiko” from Domaine Costa Lazaridi is a rich and elegant wine. There is cassis, sour cherry, chocolate, baking spices, and cedar on the nose. The palate is straight-up fruit with a sleek balance between flavor and feel. It is a carefully crafted medium-bodied wine with a long finish. It will match perfectly with the kokoretsi dishes.

The main dish of the Easter menu meal is the lamb of course either roasted in an oven or grilled on a charcoal barbecue. Lamb meat is juicy, fatty and spicy. The wine of choice to accompany it should be exuberant and full of aromas of fruits and spices, in order to match the intensity of the meat, as well as the spicy character of the entire dish. That would be a wine with intense tannins for spiciness and good acidity to balance its greasiness. The choices of Greek labels are countless and concern the personal taste of each one. From the red varieties, I would choose Xinomavro and Syrah while from white, nothing else than Assyrtiko. 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Wines for Your Easter Table
Diaporos of Kir Yianni Estate

A beautiful blend of 87% Xinomavro and 13% Syrah makes a very nice lamb pairing, no matter how you have chosen to cook it. “Diaporos” of Kir Yianni Estate is a classic example of the Naousa region, which is known for reds dominated by Xinomavro. This medium-bodied wine reveals a bright red fruit bouquet alongside flinty minerality and chewy, gripping tannin structure reflecting a profile similar to Italy’s Nebbiolo-based wines. Syrah adds some spicy notes. It cuts through the fattiness of the lamb, and the result of the combination is impressive and slightly rustic, highlighting the best of both.

Insights Greece - Best Greek Wines for Your Easter Table
Nykteri from Hatzidakis Winery

If there is a white wine that pairs beautifully with lamb, it’s Assyrtiko. Assyrtiko’s traditional place of origin is Santorini, but vilifications are found all over Greece. This white grape has searing acidity that cuts through the high-fat savor of lamb. It also has plenty of lemon flavors to match the lamb roast with lemon potatoes. A full-bodied Assyrtiko, like those aged in oak barrels, is the best choice. “Nykteri” from Hatzidakis winery is an oaky full-bodied, creamy version of Assyrtiko expressing more elements of lemon custard, fresh pineapple, crème brûlée, and some baking spice. A complex wine that will pair nicely with our roast lamb.

Insights Greece - Best Greek Wines for Your Easter Table
Muscat of Rio Patras from Parparousis Winery

Although the Easter table includes intense dishes in terms of flavor and fat, there is always room on it for a variety of desserts, mainly syrupy ones. One of my favorite sweet Greek wines is the “Muscat of Rio Patras” of the Parparousis winery. It has aromas of apricot, bergamot, lime, orange peel, honey and elegant notes of lily and jasmine. Concentrated and complex, in the mouth, but without tiring as it has enough acidity that gives it balance and elegance. It will fit ideally with cheese platters but also with sweets that contain syrup or are based on pastry, cream and fruits.

I leave you with my best wishes for a HAPPY EASTER HOLIDAY.

For more wonderful wine explorations, follow George on Instagram @george.winestories

Tsipouro, Best Way to Warm up on Cold Winter Nights

Tsipouro, a clear distilled alcohol – 40-50%! – is made from grapes (the pulp, leaves and skins) and has been around since ancient times. Warning: it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Indeed, in the olden days, tsipouro was diluted in water and consumed by hardy labourers, enjoyed as a sort of poor-mans wine. Essentially a pomace brandy, the spirit has become increasingly popular over the last three decades in Greece (it was commercially unavailable until 1990), and in more recent years the country’s trendy mixologists have gained global award-winning reputations for cocktail concoctions based on the drink.

How Tsipouro is Enjoyed

Insights Greece - Tsipouro, Best Way to Warm up on Cold Winter Nights
Metaxa 2, Athens

Traditionally, and we’re talking callous handed farm lords at the village kafeneion here, tsipouro is drunk in small glasses and never alone, neither in terms of company nor in terms of other consumables. Because of its suddenly hitting potency, it is normally accompanied by at least two meze dishes. In modern times creative and entrepreneurial new generation Greeks have tapped into the tapas concept and have generated an entire drink-dining industry around this factor nationwide, with Volos as a centre point. True tsipouro aficionados in the know to go to Volos, under Mt. Pelion and at the shores of Pagasetic Gulf, where there are by now over 600 places honouring the drink. Head there to savour the largest and most palate-pampering variety of tsipouro brands in combination with near-gourmet mini dishes on the side (see some must-visit suggestions below). Another important tip for how to enjoy tsipouro comes in several forms of one-word advice: Slowly. Wisely. Happily.

History of Tsipouro

Paradoxically, we can thank the monks at the reclusive religious peninsula of Mt Athos for the tsipouro recipe. Since the 14th Century, the large community of monks on the holy peninsula mastered the then-secret art of making this purified spirit by first fermenting and then distilling the grapes to create the imbibable result. The drink was minimally enjoyed during special events such as major religious holidays.

Tsipouro-Making in Greece

The season for producing tsipouro is between October and December, and it can be a wonderful travel experience to visit producers and sample their freshly made fuel after observing the production process.

Insights Greece - Tsipouro, Best Way to Warm up on Cold Winter Nights
I Thessali, Athens

The Cretans are big fans of tsipouro, which unlike the rest of Greece they call raki or tsikoudia, and will gladly offer several glasses of it to even absolute strangers in their inherently hospitable way. Apart from Volos and Crete, other well-known tsipouro-making/drinking regions are Thessaly and Epirus.

Where to Drink Tsipouro in Athens

Metaxa 2 (Andrea Metaxa 2, Exarcheia)
In the heart of Exarcheia, this cooperative-café is ideal for vegan/vegetarian tsipouro-lovers wishing to eat ethical yet yummy meze dishes.

To Tsipouradiko tou Apostoli (Tron 43, Ano Petralona)
A broad selection of tasty meze dishes like fried calamari and several tsipouro brands to try at this Petralona classic.

I Thessali (Melinikou 2, Votanikos)
Tsipouro from the region of Karditsa in Thessaly, live music, many meze dishes and a youthful crowd who appreciate the reasonable prices.

I Avli (Ag. Dimitriou Square 12, Psyrri)
An out of the way spot that was a near-secret until it became a trendy hideout. Here you can enjoy your tsipouro with fried meatballs and chips.

Voliotiko Tsipouradiko (Ag. Dimitriou Square 19, Psyrri)

On the same street in Psyrri you will find one of the oldest tsipouradika in Athens. Set in a neoclassical building it also features a charming garden; perfect place to enjoy a few drinks and meze with friends in both winter and summer. 

Two Tsipouro Cocktails to Make This Christmas!

Insights Greece - Tsipouro, Best Way to Warm up on Cold Winter Nights
Tsipouro based Rajito

Pink Tsipouro Fizz

50ml tsipouro

5 ml bitter almond syrup

5 ml lime juice

pink grapefruit soda

strawberry slices

Mix first three ingredients, add ice then top with soda and serve with strawberry slices.


10 fresh mint leaves

fresh lime or lemon juice

2 tsp brown sugar

1 shot tsipouro

soda water

In a tall glass bash the mint with a small pestle or the handle of a wooden spoon, adding the sugar and lime juice while continuing to break the leaves and extracting their oils. Add crushed ice and pour in the tsipouro. Mix well while topping up with soda.

Main image: Voliotiko Tsipouradiko 

Greece’s GRACE-ful Gin

It took around nine months of experimenting with over 50 herbs and spices until an alchemical trio of Greek women came up with their award-winning gin, hand-crafted recipe. 

With a family background in distillation, sisters Hara and Katerina Katsou formed the ideal team with Lila Dimopolou in 2016, who had a broad experience from working with her Scottish husband in the global drinks industry.

Insights Greece - Greece’s GRACE-ful Gin

In its four years of existence, GRACE gin has already made a strong impact among international aficionados of the juniper-based drink. The bottle in itself is both stylish and playful, immediately revealing that this is a drink with a bold and sophisticated personality. Featuring three women in 18th Century-style clothes, one of whom is holding a Greek flag (with an owl on her shoulder), it stands out in appearance as much as in its flavour.

Although gin is not an alcoholic beverage one would normally associate with Greece – or
anything Greek for that matter, this particular gin, created by Avantes distillery in Evia, has a very strong Greek character.

The gin contains ingredients that are characteristically native, such as sea samphire (kritamo), the wild herb that grows on the craggy edges of sea-spritzed rocks, orange blossom from Evia and Schinos. The base spirit is a blend of botanicals such as juniper berries, angelica root, lemon and orange peels, cardamom, orris, coriander, cinnamon, and cassia bark.

But why gin of all things? Why not distill something more traditional like say, tsipouro? The graceful gin-makers answer that for them this very concoction, apart from the immense gin-savviness and encouragement it was infused with by Lila’s Scottish husband John, presented them with an exhilarating way of reflecting the varied aromas and flavour profiles of Greece’s multifaceted flora.

Insights Greece - Greece’s GRACE-ful Gin

Indeed, GRACE gin has been described and awarded for its taste factor by several international experts and sells very well to the US, Switzerland, England, Cyprus and Germany.

GRACE Gin offers its fans some of its favourite recipes, ideal for a night in:


45ml Grace Gin

45ml Dry Vermouth

3 Dashes Cherry bitters

Glass: Martini

Method: Stirred

Garnish : 2 maraschino cherries

Tsipouro Distillery in Thessaloniki Making International Waves

Tsipouro is Greece’s famous ‘firewater’, known for its strong alcoholic taste. Distilled from grapes, pits, stalks, and skins of the fruit, the production of Tsipouro, is said to date back to around seven centuries ago in Mount Athos.

Dorodouli Distillery, which is located in Thessaloniki, is a family-run company specialising in the production of Tsipouro. They were inspired to launch their product in 2014, after many years of playing around with a secret family recipe, which goes back at least four generations. The popularity of their product is based on combining traditional, authentic, and ancient methods with modern techniques and sleek branding- which has seen their Tsipouro label rise to international fame. It has been very well received in many parts of the world – especially Switzerland, Germany, and Italy.

Not only is Dorodouli Tsipouro being exported overseas, but each year thousands of international visitors are making their way over to the distillery to learn more about the process of how this alcoholic drink is made and to discover the perfect food to pair it with.

Insights Greece - Tsipouro Distillery in Thessaloniki Making International WavesInspired by her ancestors’ traditions Lidia Dorodouli, who is a Spirit Sommelier and Creative Director of the company, spoke to IN+SIGHTS GREECE about the distillery which offers informative tours and taste testing all year round- teaching local and international visitors about this unique drink, while also sharing her tips on how to prepare luscious cocktails using Tsipouro.

Tell us about Dorodouli Distillery. When was it launched? 

We started in 2012 after we traced our tradition back four generations- that we know of. Then with respect to the tradition, we added new touches to the art of distillation. For two years we were dedicated to researching the techniques and analysed the old recipes, then we started creating our new, flavourful development. In order to achieve genuine distillates and innovative recipes, 120 different tests were conducted and studied. In 2014 our mission began and that was to elevate the traditional Greek distillate with three key values: Excellent raw materials, scientific controlled quality, and NO sugar, NO additives!

What makes your Tsipouro so special?

Well, the secret is in the recipes. We made the Classico collection specialising in grape distillation, seven different products with seven different characters. To create each recipe we blend different local varieties of grapes and then we distill Insights Greece - Tsipouro Distillery in Thessaloniki Making International Wavesit. The clear spirits rest for one year in inox vessels but the aged tsipouro remains for a total of two years in three different barrels. In the Classico Collection, you will find the elegant Tsipouro (Classico T)  the rich (Classico E), and from the aniseed (Classico G) to the botanic Tsipouro (Classico V). Also, for the whisky-lovers there (Classico X), for the cognac- enthusiasts (Classico C), and of course, my favourite Classico P, which you can enjoy in a cocktail or with tonic water.

Furthermore, our Nostalgia collection focuses on the flavours of Thessaloniki’s culture. It’s inspired by the gastronomy of our city, known as the crossroad of flavours. With two types of Tsipouro with and without anise, “Nostalgia Tsipouro of Thessaloniki” was created by three basic characteristics: fresh materials, rich aromas, and elegant flavors.

What do think makes Tsipouro so unique?  

It’s produced by distilling grape marc so like every other spirit in this category (grappa, pisco) you can find aromas and tastes like: fruits, blossoms, raisins, citrus and it is usually 40% ABV (alcohol by volume). This spirit can also be aged in barrels, giving a more woody, mature character with aromas and tastes like spices, vanilla, and caramel. But there are always exceptions because of the different grape varieties and methods used. Usually, Tsipouro is consumed in a taverna with seafood and mezedes, and of course with friends by the sea. It’s so popular in Greece because it is rooted in our culture and you can find it everywhere from amateur producers to commercial distilleries.

Till now our traditional distillate was so underestimated. Most people believed that Insights Greece - Tsipouro Distillery in Thessaloniki Making International WavesTsipouro is a secondary product because it uses the remains of wine production (in any condition). In our four years of research, we realised that the grapes skin and wine lees have to be from fresh and well-treated grapes so as to keep the amazing aromas and flavours and to avoid the harsh or sharpness in the spirit. As the Tsipouro is a premium distillate, it accompanies the fine dining experience nicely.

Where are your products stocked? 

Mainly, our products can be found in European countries like Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Greece of course. It’s easy to find them on our e-shop or from our partners’ e-shop for international shipping.

Insights Greece - Tsipouro Distillery in Thessaloniki Making International WavesTell us about your actual distillery. Can people visit all year round?

Yes of course. We have specific tours ‘flights’ based on different themes where visitors can see the distillation process in the production area, and they learn about the art of distillation in the information architect hall. Here you can also experience the concept of food pairing through with spirit tasting. Also, for the more adventurous I would invite them on a “cocktail experience” flight with me, where fun and creativity take place.

What kinds of taste testing and tours are there?

Every flight- tour is so interesting. In the Signature ‘flight’, you can find out about the process of distillate-making and have a basic degustation with a food pairing of Greek flavours. If you would like to explore more, then the Hidden secrets experience is perfect for you. And of course, my favorite, the Crystal Melody ‘flight’ where all the senses meet to travel you to another world, as it combines special bites, carefully selected melodies, and storytelling with premium spirits. Last but not least, the luxurious Bold Blend ‘flight’ where a premium degustation and our brandy in the Alchemestes private club with our Master Distiller is a must.

You are a Spirit Sommelier and a bartender. What are your favourite spirits to work with?

My favorite spirit for cocktails is Alchemestes No.6- this sour spirit has such a unique character. With this, I created our signature cocktail ‘6th Plaza’. This cocktail was a very special recipe to create, as I was inspired by my trip to Italy some years ago.

Insights Greece - Tsipouro Distillery in Thessaloniki Making International Waves What food do you recommend to pair with your Tsipouro?

I have so many recommendations, usually, it depends on what you are craving. The idea is that every dish has a matching spirit, which we highlight in our food pairing map. I would start with a seafood mezze (appetizer) like Scallop with Lemon Sauce, Red Pepper Florinis, and Rosemary and that would be paired with the Classico T. Next would be a salad like Green Salad with Strawberries, Manouri, Walnuts and Balsamic, paired with Alchemestes No.7. For the main course which is based around Classico X, I would recommend Smoked Tuna with Celery Roots, Apple, and Crithmum. For dessert- this is a must- Black Chocolate, Espresso, and Alchemestes No.9.

Doroudouli Distillery

It’s Vintage But Still Religiously Slurped: Why is Frappe So Adored?

Greek Frappe is famous worldwide. But what is this coffee which Greeks drink with so much pleasure?

By Maria Athanasopoulou

It’s a cold instant coffee with foam on top and you will find it on the menu of every cafe throughout the country. Invented by accident in 1957, it was created by Dimitris Vakondios from Thessaloniki.

Insights Greece - It's Vintage But Still Religiously Slurped: Why is Frappe So Adored?Its great success is due to its addictive flavour- plus the fact that it can easily be prepared in your own kitchen- which has made it a hit in Greek households.

A simple shaker is the only utensil required to make a Frappe. Sugar, coffee (Greece’s Nescafe), and a quarter of a glass of water are poured into a shaker, and after shaking it well you add several ice cubes, more water and some milk (optional). Your Greek Frappe is ready. Remember to always serve it in a tall glass.

Today, a Freddo Cappuccino is also very popular (the younger generation by far prefer this style) but the Greek frappe is still the most well-known cold coffee not only in Greece but amongst Hellenes abroad who can order it in Greek-owned cafes anywhere in the world and are also able to make it at home. In recent years it has been introduced in other countries too, mostly by those who have spent time in Greece during summer, had a taste of the Greek Frappe, loved it, and took the concept back home.

One of the most “classic” scenes defining a relaxing getaway in Greece over the warmer months, is catching large groups of people at seaside cafes, enjoying the sun, sea, and sand, with a tall glass of Frappe in hand. This beverage really has become synonymous with beach culture and warm weather. If you have already tried it, regardless of whether you love it or not, you have most likely been fascinated by its unique taste- as it truly is an original cold coffee concept. If you have not tried it yet, then I recommend you do so, and discover what this popular type of Greek coffee is all about!

Maria Athanasopoulou is the founder of the tourism marketing company Respond On-Demand, co-founder of the non-profit company Top Tourism, Chairwoman of the World Food Travel Association, Ambassador in Greece of Evintra and Ambassador in Greece and Cyprus of World Gourmet Society. She likes exploring new places and cultures and loves discovering unexplored tourism destinations. During her trips, she does her best to find out and present the most interesting aspects of the destination she has just visited.