The anise-flavored spirit known as ouzo has long been a staple in Greek cuisine. Often paired with seafood dishes or mezedes (appetizers), ouzo has a strong flavor that can best be described as an "acquired taste". Jason Wilson, writer for The Washington Post, described his experience tasting different varieties of this clear liquor at the popular D.C. restaurant Zaytinya, which boasts a tempting menu of Mediterranean cuisine. He explained that ouzo, which is distilled from grape pomace and flavored with anise and other herbs, comes in a variety of qualities. The best brands of ouzo, according to Wilson, are those in which the grape pomace, anise, and herbs are all blended and distilled together, not mixed later in the production process. His recommendations, both from the island of Lesvos, were the brands Barbayanni and Plomari.
In Greece, ouzo is most commonly enjoyed by adding water to it. Wilson explained that the proper way to serve ouzo is in a tall glass with a carafe of water. Water is added to the ouzo until the mixture turns a white, opaque color. Only then can ice be added, otherwise a film is formed. While ouzo is sometimes seen served in a shot glass, it is meant not as a shot, but as a refreshing beverage to be enjoyed slowly so that one can appreciate the unique flavor.
Source: The Washington Post
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