When I was a young man, one of the countless pieces of sage advice my father gave me – this one, about drinking responsibly, had to do with Bailey’s Irish Cream. “It might fool you,” he said, “because it tastes just like a chocolate milkshake, but be mindful that it’s got alcohol in it.”
His words come to mind when indulging in Meltemi – an ouzo produced in Arta, in Northwestern Greece.
Although it contains the standard amount of alcohol for ouzo (40%,, thus, 80 proof), Meltemi is so light and so smooth that you might be tempted to guzzle it by the pitcher, as if it were anise-flavored lemonade.
It is aptly named, after the late summer breezes that cool the Mediterranean pleasantly, but can cause turmoil at sea – particularly for seasick-prone tourists not accustomed to sailing. Similarly, overindulgence in Meltemi can cause a sneaky hangover the next day.
Personally, I prefer my ouzo to pack a bit of a punch. But Meltemi is ideal for those new to Greece’s most celebrated aperitif. It is eminently refreshing over ice, and smooth enough to drink even straight.
You might even think water was added, when in fact it is just the ouzo itself.
But as my dad would say – be careful, it does have alcohol in it, after all.