Ready for some drinks in Greece? Here is our guide to twenty drinks from Greece you won’t want to miss.
- Agiorgitiko Red Wine
- Assyrtiko White Wine
- Espresso Freddo
- Kumquat Liqueur
- Tsai Tou Vounou
Part of going to any new destination is trying out the local cuisine. But that should also extend to the local tipples too!
Many different beverages are synonymous with Greece, and if you want to be informed about what you’re trying, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s check out the most famous Greek drinks:
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1. Kitron – Naxos
While you might assume that it means the drink tastes just like lemon, you’re wrong; it’s slightly different but equally as delicious! Kitron hails from the famous Greek island of Naxos and comes from the citron tree, or Citrus Medica, to give it its actual name. It has grown on the island for over three centuries, and it’s one of its main exports.
You’ll find two kitron distilleries on Paxos, and you can visit and check out how they make the drink, as well as tasting some for yourself. These are Pomponas and Vallindras.
The leaves of the kitron tree are picked and then combined with water before going through a complex distilling process several times over. You’ll find green kitron, which is around 30% alcohol and tastes quite sweet. Then, you’ll find a clear version of approximately 35% alcohol, before the strongest at 40% alcohol, which has a gold color and tastes more bitter than sweet.
2. Kumquat Liqueur – Corfu
This is 100% one of the drinks from Greece you can not miss. If you’ve never seen a kumquat, these are tiny orange fruits that grow on trees. They’re delicious in their own right, but in 1860, on the island of Corfu, a British man decided to turn the fruit into alcohol. It’s been made ever since!
In the 1960s, a kumquat liqueur distillery opened in Corfu Town, owned by the Mavromatis family, and it remains there today. This Greek liquor is one of the island’s biggest exports, and once you taste it, you’ll see why.
It has a sweet taste and around 22% alcohol content. The beverage is made by preserving the fruit in a sugar syrup, giving it that sweet, almost golden taste.
3. Mastika – Chios
If you’ve ever been to the island of Chios, one thing you will see plenty of is the mastic tree. Mastika is a Greek alcoholic drink made from the resin collected from a tree and then mixed with sugar, distilled, and left to create an alcoholic beverage from Greece that is both potent & delicious. It tastes a little herby, almost pine-like.
Mastika is probably one of the oldest drinks in the country, as its production dates back around 2500 years. It’s thought that Hippocrates himself enjoyed a tipple, and many believed that the drink could help with digestive problems.
These days, mastika is kept in the freezer (don’t worry, you won’t get ice cubes) and served ice cold. This is one of the drinks in Greece that is often consumed after a meal, but it can be mixed into Greek cocktails, too – albeit strong ones! On its own, mastika has an alcohol content of around 15%, depending on the brand.
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Tentura hails from Patras and has been made since around the 15th century. This is a Greek alcohol, specifically a liqueur, made from fermented cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and mandarin, giving it a fruity yet warm taste with a cinnamon scent.
The traditional way to serve tentura is in a small glass with a bit of ice, served at room temperature. But some people add it to other drinks, often coffee, to give it a warmer taste. Alone, tentura has an alcohol content of around 25%, but it’s often mixed with other beverages, making it much stronger!
5. Tsikoudia – Island Of Crete
Tsikoudia has been made for hundreds of years on Crete and is still very popular today. For those who have tried raki in Turkey, tsikoudia isn’t that dissimilar, as it has an almost aniseed taste that’s quite strong. For some, it’s an acquired taste, but it’s something you should try, and it’s known to get the conversation flowing!
Tsikoudia is made from the skins of grapes, and they’re left for a few weeks to ferment before being distilled. You’ll find several different brands of the drink across Crete, which are exported outwards and vary in strength. This can be anything from a still strong 40% all the way up to an extremely strong 65%. So, if you’re going to try this, proceed with caution.
Tsipouro is a popular drink that is another very strong option – it can be anything between 40-60% alcohol content, so again, be careful! It’s been made since around the 14th century across the country but originated on Mount Athos, created by Greek Orthodox monks. Nowadays, you’ll find it across the country and even as far as Macedonia.
The traditional way to drink Tsipouro is over ice and with food – to soak it up! Like Tsikoudia, this drink is made from grape skins but also vines. You’ll find many different brands of Tsipouro, and it’s a very popular drink with a very strong flavor, again, not dissimilar to the Turkish raki you may have tried in the past.
7. Ouzo – Anise-Flavored Drink
You’ve no doubt heard of ouzo, but have you ever tried it? This is a strong drink that’s famous across the country and beyond. Again, it’s got that anise type of taste to it, a little like raki or even sambuca. It should be consumed carefully and in moderation, as with all Greek alcoholic drinks.
The best ouzo comes from the island of Lesvos, a beautiful Greek island made from the stalks and skins of grapes. Aniseed and a few herbs are added to the distilling process. The alcohol content can be anything between 37-50%, depending upon the brand and whether sugar has been added or not.
Despite its origins on the island of Lesbos, you’ll now find many distilleries across the country, with various recipes each factory calls its own. That is why you need to find a brand that you enjoy, as they may differ depending on where you purchase your ouzo.
If you drink only one Greek beverage when you visit Greece, it should probably be Ouzo because it has such a key place in the Greek socializing culture. It would be best if you drank ouzo cold, with ice and with meze. Never attempt to drink ouzo without food, as you will probably find yourself extremely drunk very quickly!
8. Greek Wine – All Over Greece
Greek wine is not just a drink; it’s an exploration of the unique wine production and winemaking processes found in Greece. The country’s varied landscapes, from the sun-drenched islands to the mountainous mainland, shape an array of robust reds and zesty whites. Agiorgitiko offers a bold experience, while the Assyrtiko whites are celebrated for their zestiness.
Each region contributes its own touch to the winemaking process, with standout varieties like the mineral-rich whites of Santorini and the full-bodied reds from Nemea.
Vinsanto wines from Santorini deserve a special mention. Crafted from sun-dried grapes, these sweet wines showcase the complex and traditional Greek winemaking techniques. They are perfect as a dessert wine or a post-meal treat.
The ideal way to enjoy these Greek wines is in their authentic settings. Imagine sipping a glass of Vinsanto at a seaside taverna as the sun sets or enjoying an Agiorgitiko at a cozy mountain eatery.
These local venues are perfect for pairing these wines with traditional Greek dishes, enhancing your gastronomic experience. Diving into the world of Greek wines is a crucial part of your Greek adventure, offering a taste of its rich history and tradition in every glass.
10. Elliniko – Athens
If you’re heading to Greece, you’ve got to try Ellinikos, the traditional Greek coffee that’s as much a part of the culture as the blue waters and ancient ruins. This isn’t your regular espresso; Ellinikos is brewed over low heat in a special pot called a ‘briki.’ What makes it special? It’s the slow brewing process that gives this coffee its strong, rich flavor and a layer of kaimaki — a creamy foam on top. There are a few styles to choose from: ‘sketos’ (no sugar), ‘metrios’ (medium sweetness), and ‘glykos’ (sweet). The trick is in the preparation, where the coffee is repeatedly brought to a boil and then cooled.
Now, where’s the best spot to enjoy a cup? Picture this: a small, bustling café in Athens or a seaside taverna in Santorini with a view of the sea. These are the places where Ellinikos is not just a drink but an experience. Sip it slowly, like the locals do, and let the robust flavors transport you deeper into the heart of Greek culture. It’s not just a caffeine kick; it’s a small journey into the everyday life of Greece. So, grab a seat, order a cup, and watch the world go by the Greek way.
11. Greek Beer – All Over Greece
When in Greece, diving into the local beer scene is a must-do! Greek beer might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this sun-soaked country, but it’s definitely worth your attention. Among the most famous Greek beers, Mythos and Alpha are the go-to choices for many. Mythos, a refreshing lager with a 5% alcohol content, is perfect for sipping on a hot day. Alpha, another popular choice, offers a slightly sweeter taste and also clocks in at around 5% alcohol. These beers are not just about quenching your thirst; they’re about experiencing the local flavors.
Greece also boasts a growing craft beer scene, with microbreweries popping up across the country. These local brews often experiment with unique flavors and higher alcohol content, usually ranging from 5% to 7%.
From hoppy IPAs and pale ale to rich stouts, the variety is impressive. So, while you’re enjoying the sunsets and the beaches, don’t forget to grab a cold Greek beer. It’s an easy and delicious way to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Who knows, you might find your new favorite beer under the Mediterranean sun!
12. Metaxa – Thessaloniki
When in Greece, sipping on Metaxa is a must. This isn’t just any brandy; it’s a Greek spirit steeped in tradition. Metaxa blends wine distillates with muscat wines and Mediterranean botanicals, creating a unique taste.
The most famous varieties are the 5-star (with a lighter, fruity profile) and the 7-star (richer and more aged). The alcohol content ranges from 38% to 40%. To truly appreciate Metaxa, head to a traditional taverna in Athens or Thessaloniki.
Here, you’ll find locals and tourists alike enjoying it neat or on the rocks, often as a digestif. It’s more than just a drink; it’s a cultural experience, embodying the warmth and hospitality of Greece.
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13. Rakomelo – Cycladic Islands
Rakomelo, a fusion of raki (or tsipouro) and honey, is a Greek delight not to be missed. This drink, often homemade, combines the potent kick of raki (around 40% alcohol) with the sweetness of honey, seasoned with spices like cinnamon and cloves.
The most famous rakomelo comes from the Cyclades. It’s usually enjoyed warm, making it perfect for cooler evenings. You’ll find it in local kafeneia and bars, especially in Crete, where it’s a staple.
Rakomelo is more than just a drink; it’s a warm embrace in a glass, reflecting the Greek spirit of conviviality and celebration.
14. Soumada – Crete
For a non-alcoholic treat, Soumada is a delightful choice. This traditional Greek almond drink is famous, particularly in Crete. Made from crushed almonds, water, and sugar, it has a sweet, nutty flavor and is often enjoyed chilled.
In Crete, you’ll find homemade Soumada at local festivals and gatherings. It’s a refreshing alternative, especially during the hot summer months. While Soumada doesn’t have the kick of alcoholic beverages, its rich flavor and cultural significance make it a must-try for anyone seeking a complete taste of Greek culinary tradition.
For the purists, Sketo is Greek coffee served without any added sugar, allowing the full, robust flavor of the coffee to shine through. It’s strong and straightforward, ideal for those who appreciate an unadulterated coffee experience.
So, tell us, which Greek drink will you try first? Whether it’s diving into the world of traditional Greek drinks at a local taverna, savoring the bold flavors of Greek raki at a seaside café, exploring an array of Greek liqueurs at specialty liquor stores, or simply enjoying a casual evening with friends, Greece offers a drink for every palate.
Each sip tells a story of tradition and taste, blending history with the joy of the present. From the spirited raki to the sweet melodies of Metaxa and Soumada, your Greek adventure is incomplete without these iconic beverages.
Make your choice and immerse yourself in the rich, vibrant tapestry of Greek drinking culture. Cheers, or as the Greeks say, “Yamas!”