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Ouzo

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Ouzo

Ouzo is an anise-flavored aperitif,widely drunk in Greece and a symbol of Greek culture. It is claimed that it was first produced by a group of 14th century monks living in a monastery on Mount Athos although modern ouzo distillation largely took off in the beginning of the 19th century following Greek independence, with production centered on the island of Lesbos, which claims to be the originator of the drink and remains a major producer. In 1932, ouzo producers developed a method of distillation using copper stills that is now the standard method of production.

Ouzo is traditionally mixed with water, becoming cloudy white, sometimes with a faint blue tinge, and served with ice cubes in a small glass and is traditionally served with a small plate of a variety of appetizers called mezes, usually small fresh fish, olives and feta cheese.

On October 25, 2006, Greece won the right to label ouzo as an exclusively Greek product and the European Union now recognizes ouzo, as well as the Greek drinks tsipouro and tsikoudia, as products with a Protected Designation of Origin, which prohibits European makers other than Greece and Cyprus from using the name.

Ouzo is often referred to as a particularly strong drink, although its alcohol content is not especially high compared to other liquor. The reason mainly has to do with its sugar content. Sugar delays ethanol absorption in the stomach, and may thus mislead the drinker into thinking that they can drink more as they do not feel tipsy early on. Then the cumulative effect of ethanol appears and the drinker becomes inebriated rather quickly. This is why it is generally considered poor form to drink ouzo in Greece without eating anything The presence of food, especially fats or oils, in the upper digestive system prolongs the absorption of ethanol and ameliorates alcohol intoxication.


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