As the weather gets warmer here in the Northeast United States, Greek-Americans are once again letting the ouzo flow freely. It’s not quite summertime yet, but it’s warm enough for ouzo and mezedes on the patio.
Most of my wine and spirits reviews are overwhelmingly positive, but my main goal is to be sincere. And while I had hoped that my experience with Idoniko’s ouzo would be a great one, it fell short of that expectation.
You see, the Drama-based Idoniko company’s reputation precedes itself. The best tsipouro-raki-tsigoudia-souma or whatever you want to call it is the kind made at home, stored in empty bottles of Loutraki water, with the labels torn off to keep someone from going blind by guzzling it, mistaking it for H20. But outside of that homemade moonshine, Idoniko makes one of the top commercially available tsipoura anywhere. I’ve been drinking it for years, and I’m a big fan.
With that in mind, I was eager to open a bottle of the Idoniko ouzo I saw on the shelf at a liquor store in Astoria on my recent visit there (after all, in most parts of the U.S., you’re lucky to find one brand of ouzo, if any, at a liquor store, and it will probably be something more mainstream – like Metaxa).
A standard 80 proof, it looked and smelled like ouzo. But something was off. The color and the texture. Any ouzo drinker knows that once the clear liquid mixes with ice, it turns milky almost immediately. Not this stuff, though. Idoniko retains its clear essence – to the point that I almost thought I was staring at a silver tequila on the rocks.
The taste was off, too. It tasted more like tsipouro with anise flavoring than actual ouzo. There is a difference – a subtle one, but it’s there.
Because Idoniko’s tsipouro is so good, I thought its ouzo would be exquisite, too. It’s not. It’s drinkable for sure (I won’t be throwing the rest of the bottle down the drain), just not what I expected.