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Lift Your Spirits - Take Stock

Lift your Spirits

Many people who are from the Mediterranean believe food complements alcohol; this is especially the case with many of the anise-flavoured spirits that are an essential part of Mediterranean bar and restaurant culture. To make your theme night authentic – and fun – make sure you stock the following:

Ouzo

Greece’s most popular alcoholic drink, ouzo is distilled from the must or remnants of grapes pressed for wine. Clear and silky with a distinct liquorice flavour thanks to the addition of aniseed, ouzo is potent and fiery, so not for the faint hearted. Alcohol content is around 40%.

How to serve:

Traditionally served neat, add iced water to dilute the strength and turn the drink milky. Don’t add ice directly to ouzo, as this will cause unsightly crystals to form on the surface of the drink.

Raki

For many, raki is Turkey’s national drink. An aniseed flavoured spirit of 40-45% ABV, it’s made from different fruits in different regions – grapes, figs and plums being the most common. Raki is the table alcohol by default in Turkey, where instead of beer or wine it’s the preferred accompaniment to hot and cold mezzes (Turkish tapas), feta cheese, melon and in particular, grilled seafood.

How to serve:

Consumed neat or with iced water – with which it turns cloudy. That characteristic, alongside its potency, accounts for raki’s nickname – ‘Lion’s Milk’.

Pastis

First commercialised by Paul Ricard in 1932, this anise-flavoured spirit is bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV for Pastis and 45% for Pastis de Marseille and is one of the most famous drinks of France.

How to serve:

Normally served neat in a highball glass with an accompanying jug of water, the classic mix is five parts water to one part Pastis. To serve as a cocktail add syrups to the mix, including a perroquet (French for parrot) when green mint syrup is used, and a tomate, when mixed with grenadine.

Grappa

Owing its existence to Italian winemakers wanting to make the most of their fruit, grappa is a spirit distilled from Pomace – the mix of grape skins, seeds, stalks and pulp that remain in the wine press after the juice has been extracted. After fermentation most producers remove the stalks and stems before what’s left is distilled, aged in wood and then bottled. Most grappas are clear, however, those that are oak aged can take on a wonderful dark golden colour, resembling a malt whiskey or fine Cognac. Typical ABV is around 40%, but there are some at 50% and above.

How to serve:

As an after dinner drink or with an espresso in the morning.

Sambuca

This Italian spirit is flavoured with essential oils from star anise, or less commonly, green anise. Bottled at a minimum of 38% ABV, the oils are added to pure alcohol, a concentrated solution of sugar and other flavourings. Traditionally clear, nowadays this is often referred to as white sambuca to differentiate it from coloured variants.

How to serve:

Neat, on the rocks, or with chilled water (to make it go milky.) Famously served with coffee – drunk straight afterwards as an ‘ammazzacaffè’ or added directly in place of sugar to produce a ‘caffè corretto’.

Anis del Mono

Traditionally drunk after a meal, Anis del Mono is one of the most famous brands in Spain – the bottle being immediately identifiable by the monkey with a man’s face on the label. Available in ‘Dulce’ (sweet) and ‘Secco’ (dry) Anis del Mono is made from aromatic herbs, cane sugar, neutral alcohol and distilled water, with a typical ABV of 36%.

How to serve:

Neat or mixed with water and ice.

Off like a shot!

If you’re looking for something different, why not stock flavoured sambuca for your shot loving clientele? Antica’s range from Hi-Spirits has flavours that include Liquorice, Raspberry, Apple, Cherry, Amaretto and even Chilli!

And don’t forget the favourites…

Sangria – The classic Spanish mixture of cut fruit, red wine and, for a truly authentic taste, brandy.

Retsina – Greece’s classic resinated white or rosé wine.

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