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Drinking in Greece: Culture, Legal Age, Popular Drinks and More

Drinking in Greece

Greece’s drinking culture is changing, following societal trends toward healthier and responsible behaviours. More customers are switching from neat spirits to cocktails and lesser ABV beverages, which means they are drinking less overall, allowing them to trade up to premium and higher-end brands. While Greeks used to prefer to consume alcohol in bars and clubs on weekends, today we see that weekday brunches and after-work beverages have become popular. As a result, drinking in Greece at daytime establishments such as cafés has become a common trend following some common principles such as legal age requirements and drinking under safe conditions. 

Legal age of drinking in Greece

In contrast to most European nations, if you are drinking in private, there is no formal legal drinking age in Greece (like a house). However, you must be at least 18 years old to purchase alcohol and consume it in public. While the legislation is in place, it isn’t always followed. In Greece, as in the rest of the globe, drinking while driving is prohibited. Whether you’re drinking or not, the twisting, dark highways, foreign cars, unforeseen obstructions, and small roads all contribute to Greece having the highest road mortality rate in the European Union. For Greeks, it’s just as hazardous as it is for visitors.

Consequences of Cheap liquor drinking in Greece

Whilst alcohol is affordable, it is also likely to be of poor quality. It may even be cut with pure commercial alcohols or formaldehyde, which can be hazardous.   And because liquor is served from a well-known brand doesn’t imply it came from one. Drinking hard liquor, synthetic alcohol (Ethyl alcohol), or methanol can all have serious consequences. Consequences can include being more inebriated than you anticipated, liver failure, or, in the instance of unintentionally consuming methanol, blindness and fatality.

Because of the hazards of drinking suspiciously inexpensive alcohol, many revellers prefer bottled beers, which are typically what they say they are and are more difficult to tinker with. If at all feasible, have the bartender open your bottle in front of you. Even the most seasoned and careful Greeks can be caught off guard by the poor booze offered at these establishments, so keep your guard up. If you want to consume alcohol and are aware that you may become inebriated, take the same precautions you would if you were at home.

7 Popular liquor that makes drinking in Greece a memorable one

Ouzo

Ouzo is a dry, clear aperitif with an anise taste that is popular across Greece. The village of Plomari on the Greek island of Lesvos is regarded as the birthplace of Ouzo. It was initially created by distilling leftover grape skins and stems from wine manufacturing. The liquid is then distilled with aniseed and local botanicals until the alcohol content reaches a high level. Many manufacturers think that their ouzo’s distinct flavour comes from the water they use in the process. There are around 17 producers on the Greek island of Lesvos, and they produce half of all ouzo. Isidoros Arvanitis, manufactured in Plomari, Lesvos, is the most popular ouzo brand.

Raki/Tsikoudia

Tsikoudia is a traditional drink in Greece that has been enjoyed for generations on the island of Crete. The spirit is created from all of the remnants of grape from the winemaking process, which generally begins in late October. The grape peels and other offcuts are fermented in a barrel for six weeks before being distilled. Two families have been granted a license to manufacture Tsikoudia in nearly every hamlet in Crete. Tsikoudia is stored frozen and offered cold after a meal to assist digestion. Tsikoudia is available in a variety of flavours, including honey or Rakomelo, lemon peel, and rosemary. People who live on the Cycladic islands make their own variation, known as ‘souma.’

Masticha

The Pistacia lentiscus shrub secretes a hardened plant resin called Masticha (“to chew” in Greek). Though mastic resin is harvested throughout the Mediterranean, the type grown solely on the Greek island of Chios is prized for its sticky texture and sweetness. Mastic, for instance, was one of the first types of gum, improving teeth and gums, refreshing breath, and serving as a moderate caffeine-like supplement all at the same time. Known as Mastiha, the alcoholic spirits made from miracle resin date back about 600 BC; they have a delightfully sweet, light flavor with aromatic woodiness and a nutty aftertaste.

Kumquat Liqueur

The kumquat is an oval-shaped small orange fruit with sweet skin and bitter flesh. The kumquat is actually a fruit native to China, and its name translates to “golden orange.” The kumquat was initially introduced to the Greek island of Corfu in 1860 by British agronomic Sidney Merlyn, who believed it would thrive there. In the early 1960s, the Mavromatis family began to experiment with creating a liqueur out of kumquats, and in 1965, they built their first factory in Corfu Town. The liqueur has proven to be incredibly successful, prompting the family to expand the business twice, and it is now operated by the 3rd generation of the clan!

Kitron of Naxos

For more than 300 years, the citron tree, or Citrus medica, has thrived on the Greek island of Naxos, and its production is an essential element of the island’s agricultural policy. Nearly 200 years ago, the aromatic leaves of the kitron tree were used to produce a liqueur. The island’s first distillery, Vallindras, was established in 1896, as well as the first bottles of Kitron of Naxos were shipped in 1928. On the island today, there are two seasonal distilleries – Pomponas and Vallindras, both of which are available to the public and provide sampling sessions and souvenir outlets! Between October and February, when the leaves are at their most aromatic, Kitron are hand-picked off the trees. They are then mixed with water before getting distilled many times inside massive copper stills. 

Beers

In contemporary times, Greece’s first recognized brewery was established in 1864. Today, Greek beer has been ingrained in the culture of the country and has spread beyond its borders as demand has grown in a number of nations across the world. Despite the fact that wine continues to have the greatest level of consumption in Greece, beer has grown in popularity and has become an important business for the Greek economic system. Breweries have always imported raw materials, but some are increasingly producing their own flavors and malt. Fix and Mythos are the two most well-known brands in Greek beer, and both have recently been acquired by multinationals Carlsberg and Heineken. Apart from it, you can also try beers produced by Fix and Alpha for memorable drinking in Greece.

Greek wine

Greece was a significant wine producer in ancient times, but its wines were mostly for the domestic market for centuries following. Now, Greek wines have been discovered and loved by wine enthusiasts all over the world, and some of them can now be purchased in European shops too. Many distinct Greek wines, such as the delightful Moraitis from Paros, produced by distilling the Monemvasia grape, are worth tasting and are relatively unknown. Wines from this region of the world are known for their savoury flavors, which make them perfect for pairing with food. Drinking in Greece mainland and islands are wine treasure troves with something intriguing for every occasion.

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