Metaxa and Ouzo: An inside look at the world of Greek Liqueurs PDF Print E-mail

We all know that Greeks love to party, they love to relax, they love to eat, and they love to smoke. Each of these (in moderation) – give or take ones preference – pretty much sums up how we pass the time. Throw in a coffee here and a visit to the beach there, and you’re complete.

However, one might argue that something’s missing; something that can be combined with all of the above (with the exception of coffee). What’s lacking is a shot of LIFE! And that shot of life comes in the form of an alcoholic beverage.

The world has its rums, its vodkas, its ryes, and its gins, but what about the palliative pleasures that come straight from Greece. Greeks enjoy them, and so should everybody else. There’s a reason why Hellenes make a toast to a healthy life with every sip they take. It’s because you never know what tomorrow will bring, so it’s important to celebrate each day to the fullest and be thankful for all that you have. And what’s the best way to express that? By taking a sip from a glass: “Stin Ygeia Mas!” or “To A Healthy Life”.

Here’s a deeper look at two traditional Greek liqueurs that we're sure you’ve heard of. We have provided some information, statistics, and history for each of them, along with a few videos that are very interesting.


Alcohol content: 38-40%
Invented in 1888 by Spyros Metaxas.
Where is it originally from? Kefalonia
Best served neat, on ice, mixed with tonic, cola, lemonade, soda water or fruit juice.
Did you know the label on the Metaxa bottle shows an Ancient Greek Salamina fighter who was carved on a coin from the period where the first factory was excavated from back in 1888?

Metaxa is the most famous of all Greek brandies. Invented by Spyros Metaxas back in 1888, the unique blend of brandy and wine is made from sun-dried Savatiano, Sultana, and Black Corinth grapes. It is then mixed with an aged Muscat wine from the Greek islands of Samos and Lemnos. This recipe gives it a rich sweet apricot taste, combined with potent aromas consisting of dried fruit, lavender, white roses, and various spices. Today it is exported to over 60 countries worldwide, and is available in five different varieties: Three Stars, Five Stars, Seven Stars, Twelve Stars, and the Grand Reserve.

In 2008, Metaxa launched a limited edition 'Aen Metaxa' to celebrate 120 years of the brandy. It is composed of blends aged between 20 and 80 years and is said to be the oldest product ever released by Metaxa.

Packaged in Crystal de Sevres decanters with a gold painted stopper only 1,888 decanters of Aen Metaxa are available worldwide. Certain online shops show a retail price of 900 Euro which is $1,265 Canadian dollars per bottle.

Here’s a look at how to create a popular cocktail made with Metaxa called the Metaxa Sidecar. And try not to get creeped out by the dude in green:

And now for a Metaxa commercial that was recently released advertising their new Five Star brandy. Touch the sun!

Next we have OUZO...

Alcohol content: 37.5-46%
Invented in the 14th century by monks living in a monastery on the holy Mount Athos.
Where is it originally from? Mount Athos and Lesbos.
Best served neat, on ice, or mixed with cold water.
Did you know Ouzo bottles have sported over 370 different labels since the 19th century?

Ouzo is considered the national drink of Greece by many people around the world. Depending on who you ask, the drink was said to have been invented by 14th century monks who lived in a monastery on the holy Mount Athos. However, there are also those who claim that the drink comes from the island of Lesbos, and that it was invented there during the 19th century. Ouzo is an offshoot of another Greek beverage known Tsipouro. The main difference between Tsipouro and Ouzo is that Ouzo does not include any fermentation or multiple distillations. Today, Lesbos is the number one producer of the anise-flavoured beverage, which is traditionally served with a side of olives, sardines, or feta cheese.

Ouzo is not the only anise-flavoured drink in the eastern Mediterranean area. The reason is that anise is a native plant in those regions, where the soil is light and well drained.

Some alcoholic products with anise flavour include: Sambuca (Italy), Absinthe and Pastis (France), Arak (Lebanon, Syria), and Rakia, or Raki (popular in Turkey and other Balkan countries). Not to be confused with the Greek Raki popular in Crete, the Turkish Raki tastes like Ouzo.

Here’s an old traditional song titled “Ouzo”. Turn up the volume and pour yourself an ounce or two as you give it a listen! Opa!

Last but not least, we found this very creative Ouzo commercial that must have taken a while to shoot:

Hope you found some of these facts, statistics and videos interesting. Feel free to add your two cents in the comment section below!

Please drink responsibly

By Staff Writer – Jonathan Bliangas

Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jbliangas