“Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Greece is one of the most exotic lands I have ever had the pleasure of traveling to, a place where Gods fall in love with unsuspecting mortals and myths are born. From the beautiful ruins of the Parthenon that crown the city of Athens, to natural wonders of the island of Lesbos where Aphrodite was born, to the stark volcanic beauty of Santorini where vampires are said to dwell. Greece is a place that literally breathes forth its wondrous past, you never know what fountain might have its own nymph, or in what tree might dwell a dryad. In celebration of this true magical land, we decided to do a round up cocktails from the land of myths and fables.
Cocktails of Myth
For a long time, it was hard to find a truly ”Greek” cocktail in Greece. What we mean by a truly “Greek” cocktail is a cocktail made from local ingredients and local spirits. Sadly, then came the Greek Financial Crisis and imported alcohols lost their cachet – they were harder to find and harder to pay for. Lucky for us, this has caused an upsurge in popularity with local brews and spirits amongst the different generations of Greeks.
Since the Greeks – at least according to the themselves – invented winemaking and distillation, it didn’t seem like they had to go too far to find some wondrous local liquors and that created a renaissance of modern Greek-infused cocktails.
Hotel Aressana Signature Cocktail by the owner, Evangelia Mendrinou
Hotels and restaurants now are featuring undeniably Greek ingredients in continually evolving cocktails. Here is a sweet delight from the deluxe Spa Hotel Aressana on the volcanic Greek island of Santorini, shared by the owner and head mixologist, Evangelia Mendrinou. Santorini is an island know for it’s stark volcanic beauty and is rumored to be haunted by dangerously glamorous vampires from the ancient world.
Aressana Signature Cocktail
2 oz Vinsanto Wine
1/2 ounce Triple Sec
4 oz Pineapple juice
Stir ingredients together, then shake with crushed ice. Decant into a chilled glass. Adorn with a piece of fresh pineapple.
The rich, sweet Vinsanto is renowned as the wine of Santorini. It was originally made from raisins for use in the churches.
If Vinsanto is hard to find, try substituting Mavrodaphne of Patras, another sweet, dark wine.
Aphrodite is known as the Goddess of Love, with good reason. One of her divine titles is “She Who Stirs Up Mania,” it is rumored that Helen of Troy was her half-sister and it was her divine instigation that caused Helen and Paris to fall madly in love. Plus who couldn’t use a little bit of ‘Love’ in their lives? So in honor of the Goddess of Love, here is a drink inspired by a night-time trip to a taverna on the island of her birth, Lesbos.
1 oz Eros Herbal liqueur
3 oz Tonic Water
Dash of Chocolate Bitters
Simple Syrup to taste
Decorate with a sprig of Dittany of Crete or a Twist of an Orange Peel
No trip to Greece would be complete without paying tribute to the King of the Gods, Zeus, that divine of hunk of a deity. In honor of Zeus, we have decided that the only drink worthy of being called the “Classic Greek Cocktail”, is Greek Lightning.
Greek Lighting is a cocktail you can find at almost any nightclub, beach side taverna or hotel bar in Greece. Greek Lightning is a potent mixture of equal amounts of ouzo, vodka, and Chambord. It is traditionally served in a shot glass but it can be easily upscaled to fill a martini glass.
Make sure to ask your bartender or mixologist where the ouzo comes from. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised with a tale or two about its local and ancient roots, as ouzo can be called the national drink of Greece. During my travels in Greece, it seemed like everyone’s family made their own, each with an unique recipe and process of distilling it.