Have you tried tsipouro? We don’t mean if you’ve tasted it, we mean really tried it? There’s a difference.
Like so many foods and drinks, this potent Greek spirit made from grape pomace (i.e. the solid residue left behind after the grapes are pressed for juice), should be enjoyed in the right setting. While in recent years quality tsipouro has made its way abroad and into cocktails and fine drinking menus, nothing can beat the authentic experience of a visit to the “tsipouradiko.” That is, as long as you do it right. Because, quite unexpectedly to a foreigner, these simple, no-nonsense establishments, frequented by Greek students and grandfathers alike, come with a host of unofficial rules and rituals – traditions which if adhered to, can lead to some of the best evenings of your life (and not only because your drink contains up to 45% alcohol).
In a new book titled “Drinking Tsipouro in Volos,” artist and Professor of art and technology Alexandros Psychoulis presents a manual for drinking tsipouro in his hometown. Besides a fun gift for a foodie or a drink connoisseur, consider it a good book to read before a visit to this coastal city, because while Volos is by all standards the best place in the world to experience tsipouro culture, it’s not enough to just identify and sit down at one of its many tsipouradika.
To achieve what the author has called “a state of love and plenitude attained when everything falls in place as dictated by the hundred-year evolution of tsipouro drinking,” you need much knowledge. You need to know, for example, that the menus are best left unopened, because the quantity of alcohol to meze that’s brought out by your waiter is just right and not to be tampered with. You also need hand gestures, to know when to toast, and what to talk about. And, of course, unless you’re in the company of a local insider, you need a guide to the best places.
The foreword sates: “This manual is meant for the ‘foreigner,’ the person who comes to Volos to not only drink tsipouro, but to reach―through drinking, eating and talking―a state of collectiveness, of attunement, of harmony, a sweet sensation like floating and the illusion that life is exquisitely simple.”