Want to restore your balance, boost your spirits, experience sweetness on a cold winter night, or try a liquid that runs through godly veins alone? Well, then, try one of the Greek ways of doing so.
An excellent sweet tasting spirit. Made by a combination of raki or tsipouro with honey and several spices, such as cinnamon, cardamon, clove or other regional herbs, it is mainly consumed during winter as a warm drink.
Rakomelo can be found as a bottled mixed drink in liquor stores, ready to be warmed and served. However, anyone can make rakomelo, following this recipe: for every one shot of raki, use one teaspoon of honey, along with one clove and about one teaspoon of cinnamon. Modify dosage to suit different tastes – more than one teaspoon of honey adds to sweetness. Warm the mixture in a pot and “stin ygeia sas!” (cheers).
Winters in Greece may be mild, but there’s always the need to warm up – sitting next to a big fire or keeping warm inside with the help of the ‘master’ spirit tsipouro, tsikoudia, or raki.
Produced mainly in Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly, and Crete, it is nevertheless found all over Greece and the pairing with food and especially various hors d’oeuvres (mezedes) is a tradition that every Greek maintains with reverence.
Wine based liquer
It was probably only a matter of time before at least one Greek liqueur producer searched ancient recipes for unusual quaffs. It was only a matter of time, too, before someone would want to take a turn making the mythic ancient nectar, the quaff exclusive to the gods and seminal ingredient in the ethereal ichor, a liquid that ran through godly veins alone.
Homer compares nectar to red wine and Plato implores his symposiasts to “get drunk on nectar.” Nectar bestowed immortality and so was forbidden to man.
That recipe inspired at least one producer to make a contemporary nectar called Evoi Vakhoi, which is produced with aged Nemea red wine, honey and rose essence. The drink resembles wine more than liqueur and has lovely tannins and distinct cherry-honey aftertaste. It pairs marvelously with blue cheeses, chocolate, and dried fruit.
A famous Patras’ liquer, which the old citizens used to call “moshovolithra,” meaning something fragrant, due to its intense aroma.
It has always been savored as a digestive. To produce Tendoura, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, citron and mandarin peels are extracted into alcohol. After a few weeks the alcohol is filtered, caramel syrup is added, then the mixture is diluted with water. It is set aside to settle for about two months. Tendoura has a deep brown color and an explosive aroma and taste. Its beautiful, dense texture is reminiscent of sweet Greek syrup scented with spices and citrus fruits. It is savored cold, with crushed ice, diluted with a dash of cream. It is also a great flavoring for coffee.
Since antiquity, Greeks were using aromatic plants for their healing attributes and for their nutritional value. Legend has it that Mount Olympus, where the Greek gods lived, was covered with a canopy of flowers and herbs that were of service to the gods, as well as to living mortals.
Hippocrates, the Greek physician and “father of medicine”, recorded the use of about 400 herbs to heal illness. Since almost 200 different chemical elements are contained in each of the aromatic plants, the combinations can only result in the most powerful natural stimulant ever.
The Greek and international industry are using the aromatic plants for the production of cosmetics, medicines and foods. Greeks throughout the country enjoy the therapeutic benefits of a variety of herbs: Chamomile, lime, sage, mountain tea, mint, spearmint, thyme, fennel, aniseed, St John’s wort, lavender and oregano All these herbs used to and still exist in the modern home. Why not yours, too?