Top 10 Greek liquors: friends clinking glasses with various spirits

10 Rare Greek Liquors You Must Drink In Athens

What to drink in Athens, beyond ouzo and tsipouro? Ten uncommon Greek spirits and liquors that every traveler must know.

Last updated: 5 Nov 2023

Do you enjoy trying local drinks when you travel?

In Athens, you have the opportunity to sample not only the famous ouzo or Cretan raki but also domestic premium gin, various liqueurs, and even aged tsipouro!

In this article, I will show you which unique local spirits you should definitely try.


Where Can You Find Uncommon Greek Spirits in Athens?

Some Greek liquors are available almost everywhere; for example, most taverns and restaurants offer ouzo, various Greek beers, and wine.

Moreover, most of the bars in Athens serve well-known international brands that you will also find in other European capitals: from Gordon’s London Dry Gin and Smirnoff Vodka to Johnnie Walker Whiskey and Jose Cuervo Tequila.

However, more and more businesses decide to trust local labels and add them to their menus in recent years.

If you want to add a unique touch to your trip, consider seeking the following less common spirits for a taste test.

Most of these can be found in the less touristy bars in the city center.

A great place to sample them is at the top 10 Rooftop Bars in Athens, which offer stunning views of the Acropolis.



Greek Liquors You Should Try in Athens.

#1 Beer from Microbreweries

Glass of Beer

In recent years, there’s been a notable rise in Greek microbreweries, driven by the quest for unique and specialized beers.

With over 70 microbreweries counted in recent surveys, Athens stands out as the best place to sample their products due to its large market.

Look for fresh, unfiltered, or smoked beers to pair with your meal.

These distinct flavors can be found in restaurants or supermarkets around Athens.

Recommended brands: Chios Beer, Septem Microbrewery, Noctua


#2 Aged Tsipouro

Top 10 Greek liquors: Aged tsipouro

You’ve probably heard of tsipouro; if not, it is a drink that Greek monks discovered in the 14th century.

Its taste resembles that of Italian grappa and Middle Eastern arak.

However, the aged tsipouro is something you may not have heard of before, and it is worth trying.

It is produced by taking normal, non-flavored tsipouro and aging it in oak barrels. It thus acquires a unique taste that resembles that of single malts.

One of the Greek liquors you should certainly drink; make sure to try it plain or with a bit of ice.

Recommended brand: Dark Cave


#3 Gin

Glass of Gin

When you hear about gin production, Greece is not the first place that comes to mind.

Nevertheless, several Greek gins are distilled, many of which are particularly remarkable.

Most of them use local herbs in their distillation, thus acquiring a characteristic aroma and taste.

You will likely find at least one local gin served if you visit a good Athenian bar.

Moreover, if you are lucky enough to spot one of the recommended brands below, try them by adding only a little ice.

Recommended brands: Grace Gin, Mataroa Gin


#4 Mastic Liqueur

Top 10 Greek liquors: Mastic Liqueur

If you are a fan of liqueurs, you will discover a wide variety of flavors to try in Athens.

The most famous of all is the mastic liqueur produced with the mastic resin from the Greek island of Chios.

Its taste is difficult to describe; I would say it is slightly sweet, with a distinctive aroma of alcohol and a balanced flavor.

It is served frozen, often as a digestif, but also as a main ingredient in low alcohol cocktails.

Recommended brands: Skinos Mastiha Spirit, Psychis Chios Mastiha Liqueur


#5 Tentura Liqueur

Greek liquors: Tentura

Another popular local liqueur is tentura, a traditional drink of the city of Patras.

According to historians, its origins probably date back to the 15th century, when part of Greece was under the occupation of Venice – yes, the famous Venice.

Its taste is sweet and pleasant, while it has significant alcohol content.

It is made by extracting cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, along with citrus peels in distillery alcohol and the local Mavrodaphne wine.

Due to its ingredients, it is drunk plain or with ice as an aperitif, even as a digestive.

Recommended brand: liqueur tentura Polykala


#6 Wine from Indigenous Varietals

Serving wine in a glass

Greek wine and its producers have made significant progress in winemaking over the last few years.

While you are in Athens, you will have the opportunity to choose from more than 70 indigenous varietals, some of which produce excellent wines.

The climate of Greece, which is Mediterranean with mild winters and hot, sunny summers, plays a vital role in shaping their taste.

Some basic local varietals to start with are Assyrtiko, Xinomavro, Malagouzia, Agiorgitiko, Mavrodaphne, Moschofilero, and Vidiano.

Recommended brands: Elia Vidiano Karavitakis Winery, Le Roi Des Montagnes Cuvee Papargyriou Estate


#7 Psimeni

Psimeni

Psimeni is a traditional drink from Amorgos island, and like many Greek islands, they make their own special spirits.

It’s a bit like rakomelo, but it’s not the same.

People usually drink it in the winter to warm up or to finish a meal.

It’s also a favorite for celebrations.

This drink is sweet because it has honey and sugar, but it’s also strong, so it’s best to drink it slowly.

Recommended brand: Psimeni Amorgion


#8 Rakomelo

Greek liquors: Rakomelo

The name rakomelo comes from the words raki (keep reading for more) and meli, which in Greek means honey.

These are the two main ingredients of the drink, which give a delicious result.

A feature of rakomelo is that it is drunk hot.

In fact, during the heating of the alcohol, various spices are usually added, such as cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom.

It is usually served during the winter months in Greece, often as a balm for colds.

You can buy it either bottled or you can make it very easily yourself, combining Cretan raki with the honey and spices of your choice.

Indicatively, you can use nutmeg, machete, vanilla, ginger, and turmeric.

Recommended brand: Finest Roots Rakomelo


#9 Vermouth

Greek liquors: Vermouth

Although vermouth is a drink usually associated with Italy, many local distilleries try to include it among the Greek liquors.

If you have never drunk vermouth, it is an aromatized fortified wine flavored with various botanicals.

In Athens, it is worth trying local vermouth that has the rose among its ingredients.

Rose is a widespread taste among the Greeks, as it is used in many sweets.

Accompany it with soda or tonic, or even plain, if you like the most intense flavors.

Recommended brand: Otto’s Athens Vermouth


#10 Souma

Greek liquors: Souma

Souma is a distillate unknown even to many Greeks.

It has a history of 300 years, comes from the island of Chios, and is produced from dried figs!

It is pretty similar to tsipouro and raki; however, it has much more alcohol.

Specifically, raki appears with a final alcohol content of 40%, while souma ranges from 60 to 70%!

The process of distilling the spirit is a tradition for the residents of Chios. So, if you travel to the island in summer, you are likely to find yourself at a souma festival!

As for how you will know if the souma you are drinking is good? According to the locals, from how you will be the next day…

If you wake up without a headache or stomach ache, then you made the right choice!

Recommended brand: Apalarina


4 Famous Greek Drinks

#1 Ouzo

Top 10 Greek liquors: friends clinking glasses of ouzo

Yes, probably you have already tasted ouzo. However, in Athens, you will be able to discover a wide range of flavors.

Keep in mind that making good ouzo is not an easy task.

Each ouzo has a unique recipe that indicates the quantity and the kind of herbs and fruits used in the distillation.

Moreover, it defines how many times the distillate will pass through the cauldron.

Therefore, a proper recipe ensures a balanced aromatic character and a nice tasty result in ouzo.

In any case, remember to ask for a 100% distilled ouzo, as it is of better quality.

In addition, make sure to accompany it with meze.

Recommended brands: Barbayanni Collectible (Syllektiko), Pitsiladi


#2 Tsipouro

Greek liquors: Tsipouro

Tsipouro, registered as an exclusive Greek product, began its course about seven centuries ago in the monasteries of Mount Athos.

The monks aimed to utilize all the by-products of the vine from the wine production, so they proceeded to distill the grape residues.

The result was more than satisfactory, and the secret of production quickly spread to other monasteries and then throughout the country.

Today, the amateur production of tsipouro has given its place to industrial production, which brought with it its qualitative development.

So you will find it renewed and upgraded, with a more refined taste.

Be careful, though, and try only the bottled one and not the bulk.

Although it’s a bit more expensive, it is a matter of quality and safe consumption.

Recommended brands: O/Purist, Stoupaki Mavro Rodo


#3 Tsikoudia (Raki)

Top 10 Greek liquors: shot of tsikoudia aka raki

Tsikoudia is, along with ouzo and tsipouro, one of the most famous Greek liquors.

It is produced mainly in Crete, from grape residues, and its taste is very similar to that of tsipouro.

It contains a high amount of alcohol, so when you try it for the first time, accompany it with ice and water since it is quite strong.

Tsikoudia is also known as raki in many areas, but it differs from Turkish raki.

Many even add honey, making rakomelo, which is consumed mainly in winter.

Recommended brands: Tsikoudia 35N, Cretan Spirits distillery Aggelakis


#4 Brandy

Glass of Brandy

Brandy is not one of the famous Greek local liquors. From Greece, however, comes one of the most famous brandies in the world, METAXA.

To be accurate, though, METAXA isn’t precisely either Brandy or Cognac.

Specifically, it is a mixture of Brandy and wine; it is produced from raisins and is combined with mature wine from muscat grapes from the Greek island of Samos.

It thus acquires a smooth taste, which gives it its own identity.

Try it plain, with a block of ice, or in a signature cocktail.

Recommended brand: METAXA 12 Stars


Concluding Tips for Your Athenian Journey

Where to Stay in Athens Greece: Plaka

I hope this article has sparked your interest in trying some unique Greek liquors on your trip.

Remember to enjoy them responsibly.

For those interested in discovering more about Greek wines, there’s the ‘Athens: Food and Wine Tasting Tour at Night.

It’s a bit pricier but offers a premium experience.

Or you could choose the ‘Athens: Wine Tasting with a Sommelier,’ which is more affordable.

Also, take a look at ‘An Honest Look on Athens Tours (and their cost)‘ for tips on how to get the best out of your Athens trip without overspending.

And if you’re searching for a place to stay, our guide ‘Where to stay in Athens in 2024‘ has you covered with the top neighborhoods, best hotels, and areas to avoid.

Make Your Trip Easier

Accommodation
I always book my accommodation with a reliable service like Booking.com. Besides their price guarantee, you can rest assured that you will have 24/7 support in the event of any problems with your hotel. Always make sure you read reviews from other guests before booking.

Airport Transfer
If you want to get to and from Athens Airport with peace of mind, I recommend pre-booking your taxi with Welcome Pickups. Their flat rate is a few euros more expensive than random taxis, but they are totally worth it. They use local English-speaking drivers, wait for you at the arranged meeting point, even if your arrival is delayed, and introduce you to the city along the way.

Flight
Don’t forget to use Skyscanner before booking your flights as it compares different airlines to provide the cheapest and fastest solutions. Moreover, you can save a lot of money if you are flexible with your dates.

Travel Insurance
Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on a trip. However, these things can happen, so do not miss taking out travel insurance: SafetyWing is the one I use, as its plans are affordable and can save you a lot of trouble.

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