Food in Greece is not complete without a drink or two. Here are some alcoholic and non alcoholic Greek drinks to enjoy during your holiday.
What to drink in Greece
There are plenty of Greek drinks to try when you visit Greece. Most visitors will taste the world-famous ouzo, the distinctive retsina and the Greek Mythos beer. These alcoholic drinks complement perfectly the delicious Greek food.
Other travellers will adore the numerous types of coffee. Our coffee culture is huge, and you will find frappe, freddo espresso and Greek coffee among others.
Finally, some people will stick to non alcoholic Greek drinks. There are plenty of fresh juices, and herbal teas are widely available.
Let’s check the most famous Greek drinks, one by one.
The King of Greek drinks – Ouzo with meze
For most people, the first Greek alcoholic drink that comes to mind is ouzo.
Ouzo is one of Greece’s strongest drinks. It is made out of distilled grains, along with several local herbs and spices, including aniseed and perhaps a few others.
The alcohol percentage in ouzo usually varies from 37.5 to 50, and it’s an incredibly sneaky drink. An ouzo hangover can be horrible, and combining it with beer or wine is a recipe for disaster. Yep, this is me talking from experience.
There are several well-known brands of Greek ouzo. My favourite is Plomari, which comes from Lesvos island. It’s easy to find it in most tavernas in Greece. Other popular brands include Varvagianni, Mini and 12.
Ouzo goes well with seafood and most savoury dishes. Greeks usually drink ouzo with added ice and water, to make it lighter. It tastes much better if you drink it by the beach! Here is some more information about ouzo, Greece’s national drink!
Raki / tsikoudia /tsipouro
You may have heard of ouzo, but how about raki? Τhis is another strong alcoholic drink, widely produced and consumed all around Greece.
Depending on the region, raki is also known as tsikoudia or tsipouro. You will find two types of tsipouro – with anise, and without anise.
Tsipouro is similar to several other European drinks. The Italian grappa, the Spanish orujo, and the popular Balkan rakija are all comparable.
We normally serve it in a shot glass, straight from the freezer. If it’s too strong for you, use a bigger glass and add some ice.
How to make tsikoudia
Tsikoudia is a distillation product. After grapes have been pressed to make wine, the residue is boiled and distilled further. The end product is a clear, strong drink containing 40% – 60% alcohol.
Raki is often home-made, and its production is a popular activity in several areas, most notably the island of Crete. The distillation process normally happens in October and November.
If you are visiting during this time, ask around for kazanemata – it’s a unique cultural experience!
The raki-making procedure is really an excuse a big fiesta. Greeks and the lucky visitors get together to taste the end-product and feast on local dishes. Celebrations can go on for days!
Where to drink Greek raki
A type of Greek taverna that you will rarely see in big cities or touristy places, is a tsipouradiko / rakadiko. These places focus on serving the popular drink alongside some delicious food.
The idea is that you order and pay for your drinks, and food comes along as a small meze side dish. The more raki you drink, the more expensive the meze that accompanies your order.
After ordering a few rounds, it’s not unusual to see shrimps and lobster coming up on your table. This is an excellent way to discover the Greek culture. You can even try to speak some Greek.
Rakomelo is a strong alcoholic drink which is perfect in winter. The recipe is simple: you heat up raki, honey, cinnamon and cloves. It is sweet, strong, and absolutely delicious!
Rakomelo has been used as traditional medicine in many areas of the country, including the islands of Amorgos and Crete. Surely, this means that it must be good for you.
With that said, rakomelo is one of the sneakiest Greek drinks. Make sure you’ve eaten something beforehand, especially if you are not used to strong drinks. Extra tip – sip, do not gulp down!
Beer is a popular beverage in Greece, especially during summer. There are plenty of light, refreshing beers that you can find everywhere.
Some of the most common Greek beers are Mythos, Fix, Alpha and Vergina. Along with international brands like Amstel, Heineken and Kaiser, they will ideally complement a nice meal by the beach.
If you are interested in specialty beers, you’ll be glad to know that Greece has dozens of microbreweries. Most of them opened within in the past decade or so, all around the country.
The best place to taste some of these Greek beers is a dedicated beer restaurant. You will find a large selection of unique and tasty IPAs, weiss, stouts and pilsners.
Ask any visitor if they know any Greek wines, and they will probably come up with one word – retsina. This famous white wine contains resin, which adds the distinctive flavour.
Now, while retsina is one of the most famous Greek wines, it’s definitely not the most common. In fact, I don’t know any Greeks who actually like it. I’m still not sure why retsina is so popular among foreigners!
Apart from retsina, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of types of wine around Greece. Every area grows its own local species of grapes, which can often be combined, so there is a huge variety.
Winery tours in Greece
Regions that are particularly famous for their wines are the islands of Santorini and Crete. You can take this great winery tour in Santorini and learn everything about their distinctive wines!
The Peloponnese is also home to several traditional wineries, which would be best explored in your own vehicle.
White wines such as Moshofilero, Athiri and Roditis are light and refreshing. If you are more into reds, search for Agiorgitiko, Mavrotragano and Xinomavro. Or ask around in the area you are visiting for the best local varieties to taste.
As a rule of thumb, a decent bottle of wine would cost 10-15 euro upwards in a restaurant. You will often find that inexpensive house wine accompanies any meal perfectly, especially if you are drinking it by the coast.
Fun fact – in many tavernas, you won’t find a proper wine glass. Instead, we use small, low glasses, or even mugs.
Greek liqueurs and sweet wines
There are many flavoured liqueur drinks in Greece. In recent years, mastiha and tentura have been gaining popularity. Both of them are sweet, strong and highly addictive.
Mastiha is a unique liqueur, flavoured with the resin gathered from the mastic tree. This is a small endemic tree which only grows in Chios island. Mastic itself aids digestion, which gives you a good excuse to try it.
This typical Greek drink isn’t always easy to find. If you are keen on tasting the unique mastic flavour, search for mastiha chewing gums. You can find them at most supermarkets and kiosks.
Tentura is a cinnamon-flavoured liqueur, used as a digestive drink. It is produced mainly in the Peloponnese, and it’s not common in bars or tavernas. You can find it in specialized shops selling alcoholic drinks, which we call “cava”.
Many regions in Greece produce signature liqueurs, using the local ingredients. Kitro from Naxos and Qumquat from Corfu are just two examples.
In addition to the liqueurs, it’s worth looking out for Greek mavrodafni and vinsanto. These are made from sun-dried grapes, and will remind you of Port wine. Check them out when you visit Greece.
Greek Frappé and the concept of cold coffee
“Cold coffee? Are you mad?” – This is many people’s first reaction to one of the most common types of coffee in Greece, frappe (or, rather, frappé). However, beware, because once you’ve tried it, you might get hooked!
The recipe for a frappe is very simple. The only ingredients are instant coffee, sugar and water. They are all blended in a special frappe-maker, and a thick foam is produced. Then you add a few ice cubes and a straw.
The frappe tastes better with milk, but you can skip it if you prefer. You will also find a version with ice-cream.
Cafés in Greece serve several other types of cold coffee, like freddo espresso or freddo cappuccino. Still, I definitely suggest trying the frappe!
That is not to say that hot coffee is not popular, especially in winter months. Espresso, cappuccino and filter coffee are all available. In addition, you can find hot instant coffee and the famous Greek coffee.
Trying to find the difference between a “Greek coffee”, and a “Turkish coffee”, will probably lead you nowhere. Both countries claim that this thick, strangely textured sipping coffee is their own invention.
In fact you can find a similar type of coffee in several countries. When you are in Greece, it’s best to call it “Greek coffee”.
Try it sketo (no sugar), metrio (little sugar) or glyko (a lot of sugar). Just beware – the thick, mud-like paste at the bottom of your cup is not drinkable. You should leave it right there in the cup!
Tip – coffee in Greece is a huge thing, much bigger than the beverage itself. It’s about taking time to enjoy your drink slowly, while sitting at an outdoors café, chatting with friends and looking at passers-by.
Much like Greek dinners, the Greek coffee culture is about spending time with others, taking time to think and enjoying the simple pleasures in life!
Mountain tea – Tsai tou vounou
Tsai tou vounou, or mountain tea, is a herbal tea collected on the mountains. We use it to make a hot drink with a distinctive flavour. You can drink it as it is, but many people add honey or sugar.
There are several other herbs that can be used to make herbal teas, like camomile or linden, but tsai tou vounou is the most traditional one. It also makes for a special gift to take back home.
Orange Juice – Portokalada
Many people will say “Well, we have orange juice where I come from. It comes out of a carton”.Sure thing – however, real orange juice made out of real Greek oranges is an entirely different story.
With oranges being available pretty much all year round, the Greek portokalada is a childhood memory for many Greeks, and a delicious start to your day. Try it once, and I guarantee you’ll be shocked by the difference in flavour!
Lemonade – Lemonada
Lemonade is one of the most refreshing summer drinks and it’s popular all around the world. As it has no alcohol, it’s a great option if you are visiting with children.
In recent years, home-made lemonade has made a comeback in Greece. You can find it in many bars and cafes. After all, lemons are super common here.
A traditional lemonade recipe contains lemon juice and sugar. These days, you will find several versions, with mint, ginger or even mastic. Think of it as a virgin mohito with a twist!
Frequently asked questions about drinks in Greece
Here are some questions that people ask about drinks in Greece:
What are Greek alcoholic drinks?
Some of the most famous Greek alcoholic drinks are ouzo and tsipouro. In addition, you will find hundreds of types of wine and several local beers.
What is the national drink of Greece?
Ouzo is considered to be the national drink of Greece. It is a strong alcoholic drink made from distilled grains or berries, and flavored with aniseed. It’s best to mix ouzo with ice or water, and have some food along.
What is the most popular drink in Greece?
While ouzo is considered the national drink of Greece, many other drinks are popular. A refreshing beer is common during summer, while wine and tsipouro, also called raki, are also consumed. In addition, most bars serve cocktails with rum, vodka, tequila or other imported spirits.
What drinks go with Greek food?
The most common drinks to accompany a meal are beer, wine and tsipouro / raki. Ouzo is also popular, but people tend to have it with specific dishes.
What is the legal drinking age in Greece?
While drinking in bars / clubs is not allowed for people under 18, this doesn’t apply for private venues, e.g. a house. Overall, the law isn’t strictly enforced and it’s not uncommon to see teenagers with a can of beer.
More articles about Greek food
I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to drinks in Greece! You might also be interested in these other articles:
- Everything you need to know about food in Greece
- How to order food in Greece
- Useful Greek words and phrases
Hi! I am Vanessa from Athens, and I love helping people discover more about Greece. Food and drink is an integral part of the Greek culture. The above drinks are typical of Greece, and you will find most of them everywhere. Make sure you try some of them when you visit Greece!
What is the most popular drink in Greece? ›
What is the most popular drink in Greece? While ouzo is considered the national drink of Greece, many other drinks are popular. A refreshing beer is common during summer, while wine and tsipouro, also called raki, are also consumed.What drinks to try in Greece? ›
- 1- Ouzo. Ouzo is a greek drink that is popular around the world. ...
- 2- Mastika. The resin from the mastic tree is a unique ingredient that makes mastika one of the most unusual Greek drinks to try. ...
- 3- Tsikoudia. ...
- 5- Tsipouro. ...
- 6- Metaxa. ...
- 7- Kumquat Liqueur. ...
- 8- Rakomelo. ...
- 9- Kitron.
Rakomelo (Raki with honey) – A traditional Cretan beverage
One very similar beverage to mulled wine that originates from Greece is actually rakomelo from the island of Crete. It is made by combining raki or Tsipouro with honey and several spices, such as cinnamon and consumed during the winter as a warm drink.
Considered Greece's national spirit, ouzo (the anise-flavored liqueur) is a fairly boozy drink that is typically served neat in small skinny glasses. (Yes, it's the stuff you see in the infamous drinking scene in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where they raise their glasses and say OPA!)What do Greeks drink after a meal? ›
Ouzo is a delicious anise-flavored drink from Greece. The spirit is generally consumed as an aperitif after dinner and undergoes a rigorous distillation process.What is the famous drink of Athens? ›
Ouzo. Ouzo is the national drink of Greece and undeniably one of the most famous Greek drinks. Distinctively tasting of liquorice, you will be offered an 'ouzaki' which is its affectionate name – similar to a 'wee dram' of whisky! Many people keep their ouzo in the freezer so that it is always cold.What is the most popular soft drink in Greece? ›
Orangeade (portokalada) is one of the most available soft drinks around the country, produced by almost every brand in still and sparkling versions. Most of Greece drinks it sparkling, but not everywhere.What is strong alcohol in Greece? ›
Ouzo: the king of Greek spirits
Ouzo is the spirit that has always been exclusive to Greeks. The white color of the anise, its distinctive aroma and strong flavor make it internationally recognizable and closely attached to Greece.
45mL gin. 15mL Mastiha. 15mL lime Juice. 15mL sugar syrup. 1 basil leaf (to garnish)
You know about Aperol spritz, but what about Greek spritz? It's based on Otto's Athens vermouth, masticha liqueur and pink grapefruit soda.What do you drink with Greek gyros? ›
Spicy, light to medium-bodied reds are ideal with grilled and barbequed favourites like souvlaki or gyros. Pair with: Grenache and Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre (GSM). Alternative options: Pinot Noir, Nero d'Avola or Merlot.What do you say after drinking ouzo? ›
Talk like an expert: Toasting is a big part of Greek drinking culture, but don't say “opa!” when you're served ouzo. Instead, say “yamas!” which more accurately means cheers (but literally translates to “health”).Why do Greeks yell OPA? ›
It is frequently used during celebrations such as weddings or traditional dancing. In Greek culture, the expression sometimes accompanies the act of plate smashing. It can also be used to express enthusiasm, shock or surprise, or just after having made a mistake.What do Greeks say after drinking ouzo? ›
Anise's seeds delicate aroma will fill your nostrils and tickle your taste buds. Join your fellow diners and say 'stin iya mas' ('to our health', the Greek way of saying 'Cheers') as you clink glasses with them at the table. Feel your spirits rise as you sip your ouzo and your heart warms up in cheerful company.What do Greeks drink in shots? ›
Ouzo (Greek: ούζο, IPA: [ˈuzo]) is a dry anise-flavored aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece. It is made from rectified spirits that have undergone a process of distillation and flavoring. Its taste is similar to other anise liquors like pastis, sambuca, rakı and arak.What liquor is after dinner in Greece? ›
Mastiha has gone from a popular but humble liqueur, served after meals in tavernas, to a key ingredient of some of the best chefs and bartenders in Greece.What is served with Greek coffee? ›
Greek coffee is typically served with a glass of cold water, much like the traditional coffee served in Czech coffee houses. It is also sometimes served with sweets such as cookies. Though it is traditionally served black, some young people prefer to order a "double" Greek coffee and add milk to taste.What is Greek lightning drink? ›
GREEK LIGHTNING™ CINNAMON HONEY LIQUEUR
is a sweet and stimulating beverage, traditional to Greece, and birthed by the heavens. Perfect for savoring, shooting and creating legendary cocktails. Each velvety sip will inspire you to indulge like the Gods, and live your own myth.
What is this? Most Greeks drink Ouzo in a tall, thin glass, with added ice and iced water. As soon as water is added, Ouzo becomes cloudy / milky white, the anise and other aromas are released, and the alcohol content decreases. This turns Ouzo into a long drink, that you can enjoy for hours.
It is possible for the same soft drink to vary slightly in taste due to other factors such as the temperature at which it is consumed, the foods with which it is consumed, or the conditions in which it is stored prior to consumption.What is in a Greek breakfast? ›
A typical Greek breakfast usually consists of a wide variety of bread, pastry, fruits, and Greek yogurt. These foods are high in nutritional value and a great source of energy — an excellent way to begin your Greek food adventures!How do you drink ouzo? ›
Most Greeks drink ouzo with ice cubes. But experts claim that ice (unless it's from distilled water and so crystal-clear) alters the composition of ouzo and so recommend using cold water instead. Either way, first bring the glass of ouzo to your nose and then taste it neat to fully appreciate the aromatic complexity.What liquor is only found in Greece? ›
The national drink of Greece is, of course, 'ouzo'! Ouzo is an alcoholic beverage with anise that is produced exclusively in Greece. Thanks to its essential oils of anise, anise, and fennel seeds, it creates a pleasant feeling of refreshment able to soothe even the hottest Greek summer.What is the dark liquor in Greece? ›
Tentura is a rich, dark liquor originating from Patras, Greece. It is a combination of brandy, rum, herbs, and spices. You can find hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and citrus flavors incorporated into the drink. Tentura can be mixed in a cocktail or enjoyed neat over ice.How strict is Greece with alcohol? ›
Is Greece strict on the drinking age? The official legal drinking age in Greece is 18 in public and you also have to be 18 to buy alcohol. In reality, these laws are not strictly enforced and in many tourist zones, they're not enforced at all.What is the Greek version of limoncello? ›
In Greece, we make the same liqueur, which is called Liker Lemoniou (lemon liqueur) and is usually served as a greeting drink to guests, accompanied by a mini chocolate.What is Greek brandy called? ›
Metaxa is the quintessential Greek spirit. You would be hard-pressed to find a Greek restaurant that doesn't feature it on its drink menu. It's widely considered brandy.Is there a Greek whiskey? ›
Known more for wine and some underrated beers, as well as the exquisite brandy Metaxa, Greece has a whisky too.What do they drink at Greek weddings? ›
The bride and groom will also share “the common cup” where they will take three sips of wine from the cup as the cup represents a successful and happy marriage . Traditionally, there are two readings that are presented during a Greek Orthodox wedding. The first one will be the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians.
Can I drink ice in Greece? Even though you can drink the water in Greece from the tap or bottle (depending on your location), Ice sometimes can be a bit of a risk everywhere. In some areas, the water can taste very salty so that will be the last thing you will want to be added to your drink.What dessert is Mykonos known for? ›
Gelarte. The Gelarte Ice cream is a cafeteria located next to the Town Hall in Chora Mykonos and it is known for its delicious Italian ice creams. The dessert, commonly called gelato, is actually Italy's version of ice cream.What is Amalfi Spritz? ›
Case in point: the Amalfi Spritz, which combines easy-drinking Aperol with Prosecco, lime, and pineapple. It's the kind of drink that begs for a sunny patio, a pool, and maybe an umbrella. And considering its low-alcohol sensibilities, you can sip on this one all day long.What does Amalfi Spritz taste like? ›
To Taste: The bittersweet orange and rich peach flavours of the Amalfi Spritz is like sunshine itself, bright, intense and the promise of good times. The fine bubble fills the palate with fresh orange complex rhubarb and elderflower perfectly to finish dry and deliciously refreshing. Classic orange-red in colour.How do you drink Mastika? ›
Best Way to Drink Mastika
Mastika liqueur is usually drunk at the end of a meal. It is enjoyed cold and neat. It is thought that mastika aids in digestion. Mastika is a sweet liqueur that has a flavor resembling herbs and pine.
The ancient drink known as kykeon was a popular beverage in ancient Greece that usually consisted of water and barley, along with honey, wine, cheese and herbs, depending on the recipe.What is the most popular non alcoholic drink in Greece? ›
Soumada is a non-alcoholic, syrupy, almond-based beverage that is produced on the island of Crete. It is made with a mixture of fresh, locally-grown almonds, sugar, and water, which is simmered in sugar syrup to create this signature Cretan drink.What is the national drink of Crete? ›
Tsipouro is a real Greek product closely related to the Greek lifestyle, hospitality and entertainment of the Greeks. The Cretan raki, originally called tsikoudia in Crete, is the same in production and taste as tsipouro, the pomace brandy known in Greece.What drink goes with Greek salad? ›
Greek Salad pairs best with crisp white wines with lots of acidity such as Sauvignon Blanc, Rueda, Pinot Grigio, Assyrtiko and Prosecco.Do Greeks put fries in gyros? ›
1. Do you put fried potatoes in your gyros? The simple answer is YES, because that is the tradi onal GREEK way to make a gyro wrap.
Traditional Greek gyro is made from pork, while the American version of the dish typically consists of lamb, beef, or a scrumptious assortment of the two. Both versions are then stuffed between two fluffy blankets of pita bread and topped with tomato, onion, and a yogurt sauce called tzatziki.What is the most popular food and drink in Greece? ›
- Taramasalata. A mainstay of any Greek meal is classic dips such as tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber and garlic), melitzanosalata (aubergine), and fava (creamy split pea purée). ...
- Olives and olive oil. ...
- Dolmades. ...
- Moussaka. ...
- Grilled meat. ...
- Fresh fish. ...
- Courgette balls (kolokythokeftedes) ...
Ouzo is an alcoholic Greek drink made from wine-making grape remains distilled into a kind of grappa. This grappa is given an anise flavour in a second heating. The resulting drink is sweet and silky, with an alcohol percentage of around forty percent.What is the white Greek drink? ›
Ouzo is a clear liquid. However, when water or ice is added, ouzo turns a milky-white colour. This is because anethole, the essential oil of anise, is completely soluble in alcohol at approximately 38% ABV and above, but not in water.Can you get drunk off of ouzo? ›
It has a reputation for causing a particularly intense kind of drunkenness, but this is only because it's usually taken when the imbibers are already extremely drunk. They wake up the next day bruised and ashamed with a taste of aniseed in their mouths, and naturally they blame the ouzo.What do you say when you drink ouzo? ›
Lesvos is one of the best islands for ouzo drinking and is home to many small, family-run ouzo companies. Talk like an expert: Toasting is a big part of Greek drinking culture, but don't say “opa!” when you're served ouzo. Instead, say “yamas!” which more accurately means cheers (but literally translates to “health”).Do you sip or shoot ouzo? ›
Do sip it slowly. Don't gulp it down. Ouzo is meant to be savoured; the ritual of Ouzo and mezedes is meant to be relaxing, and the process should be enjoyed for two hours or more. Don't drink Ouzo as an aperitif (before dinner), digestif (after dinner), or during dinner.What is a typical Greek breakfast? ›
A typical Greek breakfast usually consists of a wide variety of bread, pastry, fruits, and Greek yogurt. These foods are high in nutritional value and a great source of energy — an excellent way to begin your Greek food adventures!What time is dinner in Greece? ›
What time is dinner in Greece? In a country that never sleeps, no time is "too late" for dinner. You will find most eateries open until past 12 at midnight. Regardless, traditionally, dinner in Greek homes is served at around 8-9 pm.What happens when you drink water after ouzo? ›
Since the extraction of the flavour is done with almost pure alcohol, there are many compounds that can be forced out of solution when water is added. It makes sense that the better ouzos turn more milky, given that they contain more flavour components which had been originally extracted by the alcohol.
The ouzo effect occurs when a strongly hydrophobic essential oil such as trans-anethole is dissolved in a water-miscible solvent, such as ethanol, and the concentration of ethanol is lowered by addition of small amounts of water.When should I drink ouzo? ›
Greeks like to cleanse their palates and ease their mind with some ouzo before a meal. Ouzo is an aperitif that is drunk before eating to prepare your taste buds and "open" the appetite. There's an art to enjoying the anis-flavored nation drink. Good ouzo is around 40% alcohol by volume and isn't made to be chugged.