Ouzo Liquor & 11 Awesome Ouzo Cocktails

ouzo drinkOuzo, the anise flavored spirit that is simply fun to say. Try it. It sounds like “ooze” but ends with an “o.” All together now, ouzo! Wasn’t that fun! Try shouting it at the bar the next time you order a shot.

So aside from sounding like a celebratory Greek toast, what is ouzo? What is anise? What is the meaning of life? These are the questions we all want the answers to! I can’t tell you the meaning of life, but I can tell you what anise is, and I’ll damn sure give you the skinny on ouzo. Stick with me long enough and I’ll give you 11 tasty cocktails to impress your next bar guest, or houseguest if you like to entertain at home like I do.

What does Ouzo Taste Like?

Ouzo’s main flavoring ingredient is anise. What is anise? Pimpinella anisum, aniseed, or anix most commonly known as anise, is a flowering plant. The aroma and flavor that we get from its seeds are easily recognizable. If you don’t like licorice, you may not like anise. It’s closely related to some other familiar herbs and spices like star anise, dill, tarragon, and fennel. Anise is widely cultivated in the Mediterranean and used to flavor just about everything.

Do you feel so much smarter now? There are probably fifty pages of anise facts that I could bombard you with, but this blog is about booze, not anise. All you need to know is that anise has a sweet flavor profile that is slightly spicy and herbaceous. Ouzo has been widely used for thousands of years and can be traced back to ancient Egypt. It’s medicinal. It’s used in essential oils and it’s totally rad. Also, it can help with your upset tummy.

How is Ouzo Made?

How does anise get into the ouzo, you ask? Well, allow me to enlighten you. Anise is steam-distilled for approximately six hours for the best yield of the essential oil extract. After the oil is extracted it’s added to the grappa-like drink made from wine grape remains. Boom, there you have it, ouzo.

What is Ouzo?

Ouzo is a Greek liqueur made from wine grape remains and anise. The first distillation produces a grappa-like spirit. Then the oil extract from the anise is added during a second distillation to produce a clear spirit with the notable flavor profile that ouzo is known for. It comes our around 80 proof and tastes delightful. It has sweet subtle notes of spice and herbs that are reminiscent of licorice, coriander, clove, and fennel.

Aside from being delicious, ouzo is the national drink in Greece. A common way to drink it, like many other anise-flavored spirits, is to add a little water. It turns a milky color, like in Bram Stoker’s Dracula when the Count prepares absinthe for Mina by pouring water over a sugar cube. If you didn’t see it, you should. It’s a classic. Anyway, I digress. Ouzo is fairly young as spirits go. The first distillery was opened in the mid 1850’s. Then in 2006 the Greek government ruled that it can only be made in Greece. Took ‘em long enough.

11 Ouzo Cocktails That Will Tickle Your Tongue

Next time you’re in the liquor store or at your favorite bar get yourself some ouzo! Since in all likelihood the bartender won’t have a clue what to do with it in a cocktail. Therefore, I’m going to help you out. Here are 11 recipes to annoyingly present them with so they can stop in the middle of the Friday night rush to make you a delicious drink that everyone will then want. Of course they will run out of the one bottle that’s been sitting on the back bar for the last three years, and it will be all your fault. Ouzo!

The Greek Tragedy

  • 3/4 oz Ouzo
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 berry liqueur
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice

Directions:

Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Fine strain into a Champagne coupe and garnish with a lime wheel (dehydrated if you wanna be fancy).

Glass: Coupe

Greek Orange

  • 1 oz Ouzo
  • 1 oz fresh OJ
  • 4 oz Prosecco

Directions:

In mixing tin with ice shake ouzo and orange juice briefly and fine strain into Champagne flute. Add Prosecco and express an orange peel then garnish with the orange peel.

Glass: Flute

Mediterranean Float

  • 1 oz Ouzo
  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  •  1 egg white

Directions:

Add all ingredients in empty mixing tin. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Fill mixing tin with ice and shake vigorously again. Fine strain into a coupe and garnish with a star-anise.

Glass: Coupe

cocktail in coupe

Greek Goddess

  • 2 oz Ouzo
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  •  3/4 oz honey syrup

Directions:

Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake it like a seizure. Fine strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel…or a regular one if you’re not feeling bougie.

Glass: Rocks

 Ouzo Lemonade

  • 1.5 oz Ouzo
  • 1.5 oz fresh lemon juice
  •  1.5 oz simple syrup
  • 8-10 fresh mint leaves

Directions:

Add all ingredients in mixing tin filled with ice and shake until mint leaves are finely shredded. Fine strain into collins glass over fresh ice and garnish with a luscious bouquet of fresh mint leaves and a lemon wheel.

Glass: Collins

 Paradise Bay

  • 1 oz Ouzo
  • 1 oz rum
  •  2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz grenadine
  • club soda

Directions:

Add ingredients in mixing tin filled with ice and shake. Strain into hurricane glass over fresh ice and top with soda. Garnish with large toasted pineapple wedge.

Glass: Tulip

mojito

Milos Mojito

  • 2 oz Ouzo
  • 1 oz rich simple syrup
  • 6 large lime wedges
  • 8-10 fresh mint leaves
  • club soda

Directions:

In a mixing tin, combine and muddle rich simple syrup, lime wedges, and mint. Add ouzo and ice. Roll and pour into Collins glass. Top with soda. Garnish with lime wheel and fresh mint.

Glass: Collins

 Greek Cider

  • 1 oz Ouzo
  • 1 oz rye whiskey
  •  3 oz hot apple cider
  • 1/2 oz honey cinnamon syrup

Directions:

Build in Irish coffee mug and stir. Garnish with dehydrated apple slice and cinnamon stick.

Glass: Mug

syrup: 2 parts honey, 1 part water – steep several cinnamon sticks in very hot water overnight, then stir in honey until dissolved

Aphrodite’s Elixir

  • 1 oz Ouzo
  • 1 oz botanical gin
  •  1 oz cranberry juice
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz cardamom syrup

Directions:

Add all ingredients in mixing tin filled with ice and shake vigorously. Fine strain into martini glass and garnish with a cranberry speared by a rosemary sprig.

Glass: Martini

syrup: 1 cup sugar, 5 tbsp cardamom seeds, 4 cups water – boil and reduce to syrup consistency

smoked rosemary cocktail

Smack in the Face

  • 2 oz Ouzo
  • 1/2 oz spice syrup
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

syrup: Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar with some star anise, cinnamon, clove, fennel, and rosemary – add water and boil until reduced to a thick syrup

Directions:

Prepare rocks glass by torching several rosemary sprigs and placing glass upside down over the smoking sprigs. Combine ingredients in shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Fine strain over large cube in prepared rocks glass. Garnish with fennel sprig and dehydrated lemon wheel.

Glass: Rocks

Ouzo A-la-Carte

  • 2 oz Ouzo
  • 4 oz water
  • 1 sugar cube
  • cardamom bitters

Directions:

Pour ouzo into absinthe glass. Soak sugar cube in cardamom bitters. Place sugar cube on absinthe spoon on top of glass. Slowly pour water over the sugar cube. Enjoy.

Glass: Absinthe

You now know the best ouzo drinks. What next?

Now that you are armed with the secret ouzo knowledge and a barrage of cocktails to challenge your favorite bartender with, go out and have a drink! Or if you’d rather, you can step up to the home bar and make them yourself for all your friends. But before you do, let’s review some key points to remember so you don’t sound dumb and embarrass yourself.

  • Ouzo is the national drink of Greece.
  • Ouzo is made from distilled wine spirits and anise.
  • Ouzo is an apertif and is good for digestion.
  • Ouzo can be enjoyed by itself or in a cocktail.
  • Ouzo is about 40% alcohol by volume (abv) or 80 proof.
  • Ouzo is fun to say…ouzo.

How Much Does Ouzo Cost?

If you are wondering how much it will cost you to enjoy all things ouzo, a 750 ml bottle of the real stuff costs 15$-25$ depending on the distiller. At 80 proof you get great value from a 750 ml bottle of this deliciously spiced liqueur.

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