Germans Take Title as World’s Champion Ouzo Drinkers

PHOTO: Constantinos E. Scaros

It’s enough to make Zorba stop dancing and Greeks to start smashing plates: the German market now ranks first worldwide in the consumption of ouzo, the powerful clear Greek spirit associated with legend and often called Greece’s national drink.

The German market absorbs more ouzo than Greece, while the Mideast markets are also growing by leaps and bounds, the Greek business newspaper Naftemporiki reported.

Ouzo manufacturers in Greece said imports to Germany translate annually into 1.3 million cases, with each case containing 12 bottles of 700-liters (23.66 ounces), making the country the biggest ouzo consumer in the world.

Ironically, sales of ouzo in Greece are falling in the aftermath of continued tax hikes on wine, beer and liquor, with only 800,000 cases sold in the country at last count.

Greek ouzo manufacturers said repeated hikes in indirect and “sin taxes” in Greece, deseprate for every euro in a more than seven-year-long economic crisis, and with Greeks turning to often cheaper and equally powerful – or more so – drinks such as Raki or Tsipouro, often home grown has lessened the appetite for ouzo.

With the trend in Greece now turning to cheaper bulk varieties of spirits, industrially distilled and bottled ouzo accounts for 70 percent of exported spirits from the country.