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 

All you need to know about Ouzo, Greece’s Most Famous Spirit  

Combining Mediterranean herbs with a traditional process- dating back thousands of years- Ouzo is by far Greece’s most famous spirit. Exclusively produced in Greece, once you try it and consume it the right way, you will understand why it’s a major part of the Greek lifestyle!

Colour: Clear spirit, which becomes opaque when water is added.

Region: Ouzo is a PDO product and can only be produced in Greece. Although it is made in many regions, the most popular brands are based on the island of Lesvos. The latest figures show there are over 300 Ouzo producers in Greece and half of those are located in Lesvos.

Made from: Grapes and anise.

How it’s made: The difference between Ouzo and other aniseed-flavoured spirits is the way it is produced. To make Ouzo, the aromas are naturally created by distilling the seeds together with water and alcoholic solution.

Insights Greece - All you need to know about Ouzo, Greece’s Most Famous Spirit  

ABV (Alcohol by Volume): Minimum 37.5 % ABV and normally at 40% ABV.

Fact: Over 65% of Ouzo production is exported.

Other flavours used: Apart from aniseed, other flavourings include mastic, cinnamon, fennel, star anise, cardamom, coriander, cloves and mint.

Most popular Ouzo brands: Ouzo 12, Metaxa, Plomari, MINI Mytilinis, Pilavas, Barbayannis.

Taste: Ouzo is a particularly strong drink and not for the faint-hearted. It’s also an acquired taste and has a lovely flavour when sipped slowly and accompanied by the right food.

Best pairings: It can be best enjoyed with salty, savoury, and spicy mezze (appetizers). You will find on the islands locals prefer to drink their Ouzo with seafood, such as anchovies, mackerel, sardines, fried calamari and grilled octopus, whereas on the mainland they will enjoy a glass of Ouzo with loukaniko (Greek sausages), homemade pickles and local cheese. The classic way is to serve it with bread, olives, cheese, tomatoes and cucumber.

How to serve Ouzo: It’s best served with water, rather than straight up. The perfect ratio is one part Ouzo and two parts water, which gives it the right texture and enhances its aromas.

Top tip: Don’t put ice cubes in your Ouzo, it alters the taste. The correct way to drink Ouzo is to mix it with very cold water.

Don’t forget: Ouzo is not a drink to be heavily consumed, it is meant to be sipped slowly and in moderation. With the right mezze, Ouzo can be an amazing experience that will help conjure up fond memories of the Aegean sun, sea, and Greek life!

*All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)