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Sarah Ward

What Is Ouzo? 8 Cocktails and Ouzo Pairing Options

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What is ouzo? How do you drink ouzo? What can you pair ouzo with? Perhaps some gin brands? If you’ve ever wondered about the answers to these questions, you’re in the right place! Here on the BinWise blog, one of our favorite subjects is mixology. We’re here for you, whether you’re a bartender, mixologist, bar owner or manager, or anyone else working in the industry. 

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the best ways to enjoy ouzo. It’s a unique liqueur. These cocktails and by extension, these food pairings, are all delicious in their own, special way. Read on to learn more about enjoying and serving ouzo in your restaurant or bar business

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What Is Ouzo?

So, what is ouzo? Ouzo is a liqueur made from grape must–the leftovers from the wine-making process. Ouzo is anise-flavored. If you’re thinking “Hey, you’ve talked about anise before on this blog.” Then you’ve read our absinthe cocktails and history series. Ouzo is another drink that shares the bold, licorice flavor absinthe is famous for. 

Ouzo often contains other spices, like fennel, cinnamon, and cardamom. It’s an herbal, strong liqueur. It’s made at around 45% ABV and can knock your socks off if you’re not careful. Overall, ouzo is a gem in the world of liqueurs, and in cocktail ingredients and compositions. 

Ouzo Cocktail: 3 Cocktail Options

Ouzo cocktail choices are something every bartender, bar manager, and bar patron should be aware of. If you haven’t ordered one before, take one for a spin! If you’re looking to grow your bartending skills, try mixing these up, maybe even in an ouzo tasting flight. These three cocktail options are a delicious introduction to ouzo. 

3. Bold Greek Coffee Cocktail

Who doesn’t love a cocktail with coffee? This drink, known as the Bold Greek, is a coffee cocktail unlike any other. It’s a mix of: 

  • Ice cubes
  • Fennel syrup
  • Ouzo
  • Tia Maria
  • Chilled coffee
  • An orange slice for a garnish

You can make the fennel syrup from fennel seeds, sugar, and water. This bold coffee drink is perfect for any time of day. 

2. Mediterranean Sunset 

The Mediterranean Sunset is inspired by the beauty of the Mediterranean sunset–the actual sunset. This is a simple-to-make, delicious-to-drink cocktail. It’s a mix of:

  • Ouzo
  • Orange juice, grapefruit juice, or lemonade
  • Grenadine–this can be substituted with maraschino cherry juice in a pinch

All you do is mix these ingredients together in a tall glass with ice, and enjoy! It’s an easy, peasy, potentially lemon-squeezed drink. 

1. Roaring Greek Tiger

The Roaring Greek Tiger takes the number one spot on this list. It’s the easiest drink to make. All it takes is ouzo and orange juice. You can think of it as an ouzo screwdriver. The best way to make it is to shake the ingredients together with ice. Then garnish with a lime peel and enjoy.

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Ouzo Pairing: 5 Ouzo Pairings

These five ouzo pairing options are a mix of delicious foods in their own right. When mixed with ouzo, they become something better than the sum of their parts. Any of these work for an appetizer or focus of the meal. 

5. Calamari

Ouzo is perfectly matched with seafood dishes, and calamari is one of the tastiest of those options. Some good toppings for calamari that pair with ouzo drinks are truffle oil, garlic aioli, or an easy lemon and salt mix. A calamari and ouzo cocktail pairing makes for a perfect appetizer list addition. It can also be a full meal depending on the menu types

4. Dry Salami

A quality dry salami can mix with, well, pretty much anything. It’s especially suited to beer brands, red wine types, some types of white wine, and popular cocktails. Among the drinks that dry salami pairs well with, there’s ouzo. The flavors of ouzo are complemented in every way by dry salami. It’s a match made in heaven. 

3. Olive Appetizers

When you think of ouzo, you think of Greece. When you think of Greece, you think of Mediterranean food and drink. After those initial thoughts, your mind settles on the classic Greek appetizer: olives. Any type of olive can pair with ouzo. In particular, we recommend kalamata olives, a variety of green olives, and a few types of black olives on the sharp end. 

2. Steamed Mussels

Steamed mussels have a way of taking on the ouzo flavor, mixing with it, and creating something new and even more delicious. The best way to mix up this pairing is to cook with them together. 

Mixing up a recipe of steamed mussels and ouzo is the best option. It's made with mussels, shallots, cloves, fennel, tomato, white wine, ouzo, heavy cream, basil, and pepper.

1. Feta Salad

In the same way that olives are a classic Greek pairing, a feta salad is an easy pair for ouzo. You can enjoy a feta salad with pretty much any ouzo cocktail. Heck, you can even pair a feta salad, steamed mussels with ouzo, and an ouzo cocktail. That would be quite the meal!

"Key Takeaway: Ouzo is a drink made to be mixed. It can pair in a cocktail setting or with a variety of appetizers and meals. Either way, it's delicious!"

Frequently Asked Questions About Ouzo Cocktails and Pairings

Ouzo cocktails and pairings inspire a lot of questions. It’s a flavorful, unique drink that many people are still yet to experience. If you’re looking to try out an ouzo cocktail, or you serve ouzo in your bar, this is the place for you. Our answers to these frequently asked questions will guide you through. 

What Kind of Alcohol Is Ouzo?

Ouzo is a liqueur made from grape must. Grape must is the leftovers from the wine-making process. That grape must is distilled into a sort of grappa. In its second heating, this grappa is mixed with anise flavoring to give it that licorice taste. The result is a sweet, silky drink with a distinctive taste. 

Is Ouzo a Strong Alcohol?

Yes, ouzo is a strong alcohol. With an ABV of around 40 to 45%, it’s quite powerful. It can be drunk as a shot if you’re looking for something heavy hitting. Our favorite way to enjoy ouzo is in a cocktail. This mellows it out–or enhances it. Either way, an ouzo cocktail brings out the best of this strong, delicious mix. 

Can You Get Ouzo In America?

Yes, you can get ouzo in America at many wine and liquor stores. It isn’t a highly regulated alcohol as far as alcohol goes. In America, even at the oldest bars in America, you can find high-quality ouzo fairly easily. That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking a trip to Greece to taste ouzo from the source!

Is Ouzo Good For Health?

In reasonable proportions, ouzo is considered to have some health benefits. Those include working to help with insomnia, a toothache, and an upset stomach. Ouzo can also help with relaxation–well, many drinks in the right quantity will do that. Ouzo isn’t any worse for you than another drink, but it’s not meant to be a healthy tonic. 

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Ouzo Cocktails and Pairings: Oooh, Time for a Cocktail

After reading through this blog post, you know the answer to “What is ouzo?” You’re ready to start serving up ouzo cocktails, and enjoying them too! Come back to the BinWise blog for more mixology solutions. If you’re looking to up your inventory game, check out BinWise Pro, alongside the BinScan mobile app. BinWise inventory software can help you organize your inventory program

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