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ALCOHOL

ouzo
Greece is famous for at least three national drinks - ouzo, Metaxa and retsina - plus the more secretive tsipouro. And then there's Amstel.

Ouzo is derived from the anise seed and is traditionally served in a small glass, accompanied by a tall glass of water. Sometimes the water is added to the ouzo; sometimes it’s consumed after each sip. Legend has it the best ouzo comes from Mytilene (Lesvos). Tsipouro / raki / grappa is the original version of ouzo – real firewater! Locally produced tsipouro, when available, is very inexpensive - and potent: it can have the strange effect of making the ground rush up to meet you.

If you want to give 'going native' a try you can buy tsipouro (and ouzo) miniatures in the local mini-markets and at periptera - and discover why a lot of the locals prefer a good whisky (give me tsipouro any day) - or, in the tavernas and bars see if you can find tentoura, a potent brew from Patras made from fermented spices and citrus fruits. Another acquired taste, similar to the cough mixture your mum gave you when you were a kid.

Metaxa is the brand name of the leading koniak (cognac) and, according to Alec Gilroy (ex-landlord of the Rovers Return), it’s the “nectar of the gods” (and who am I to disagree?)

Seven Star is the most palatable and expensive of the 'regular' koniaks; Five Star is quite drinkable, Three Star is probably best consumed with a mixer. Look out for the special editions in replicas of ancient painted amphora – a nice gift (especially if for you!).

Retsina is the traditional Greek wine. According to legend, the best retsina comes from the Attica region around Athens. Like ouzo, an acquired taste - however, there are many other very good Greek wines available, some of which, such as Robola, are mentioned in the Wine section.
metaxa
There's no mistaking Metaxa

fix Fix was the original Greek beer, established in 1864 by a close friend of the newly-appointed King Otto and, for around a hundred years, the only beer widely available in Greece. Going back to the happy, hippy years of the sixties, when long haired, penniless young people fell in to the hippy trail to Constantinople (and ended up on the Greek beaches), Fix was the Greek beer… hence the saying ‘get my daily fix’ ?

Continental beers started to appear during the sixties and, following the demise of the Fix brewery, Amstel enjoyed something of a monopoly. Although Amstel is now owned by Heineken the Amstel you buy in Greece is brewed in Greece. Amstel, of course, are one of the main sponsors of the Champions League… and very good it is too. Especially when you can relax and watch it with a glass or two of Amstel.

Mythos, a relatively new Greek beer, has become very popular since its introduction although some prefer

virgina



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