The quintessential, unmistakable “drink of Greece” is Ouzo.
But its predecessor, more pointedly, Ouzo not flavored with anise, is known by three different names: tsipouro in much of Greece, raki in the Southern Greek islands, and tsigoudia in Crete.
Many a Greek-American visiting the homeland has encountered this drink – in its raw, homemade version, often stored by a relative (who made it or received it as a gift) in an empty water bottle with the label removed (so as not to cause confusion and a heaping guzzle), and kept refrigerated.
Unlike Ouzo, best enjoyed straight, on the rocks, or with water, raki is sipped neat, usually cold.
Haraki, made in Crete, is appropriately called Tsigoudia. It is available in the United States in better-stocked liquor stores, and at a modest price (usually under $20 a bottle). It is rather light (80 proof, compared to homemade versions usually of almost double the potency), and perfect on a summer night or afternoon, when you’re not in the mood for the anise.
For the calorie-conscious, being that it is unsweetened, it is also less fattening than Ouzo – though the difference may be negligible, unless you drink it every day.
Like Ouzo, raki goes great with salty mezedes, like anchovies, olives, cheese, and salted tomato and cucumber.