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 

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