Ouzo is without question the most traditional and most popular alcoholic drink on the Greek island of Lesvos. Surprisingly, the history of the iconic liquor began only in the mid-nineteenth century, in Mytilene.
Lesvos, where the beverage industry was born, is in the middle of a triangle comprising the cities of Istanbul, Smyrna, and Alexandria. Greeks from Constantinople and Odessos brought the very first ouzo recipes to the island.
Ouzo was officially labelled as an exclusive Greek product only in 2006, with the Lesvos towns of Mytilene and Plomari obtaining the coveted PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) designation. At the same time, the EU established it as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product, placing it alongside Greek Feta cheese and Champagne from France as a protected consumer item.
The Ouzo Festival, an annual institution celebrating the culture and secrets of one of the signature products of Lesvos, is being organized in 2019 for the sixth consecutive year by the Association of Drinkers and Distillers of Lesvos.
For one full week, from Saturday July 13 until July 20, the visitor will have the opportunity to taste more than forty different types of ouzo, to chat with other ouzo aficionados and to sample the gastronomy of Lesvos. The unique beverage can be enjoyed in the many picturesque “coffee shops” of Mytilene and Plomari.
The visitor can also tour museums and areas of Lesvos which featured prominently in the history and production of ouzo, and learn new information about the iconic Greek beverage. The festival will also feature musical and gastronomic events which will give visitors the opportunity to experience the authentic culture in which ouzo has always been enjoyed.
The celebration will begin on the weekend of July 13 and 14 at the front of the Municipal Theater of Mytilene, and end on Saturday, July 20, with a final ouzo-themed event in Plomari.
All during this week, you will be able to participate in ouzo tastings at a number of different venues, while sampling delectable local appetizers, and there will be visits and tours to ouzo museums and distilleries on the idyllic island.
For more information about the sixth annual Ouzo Festival on Lesvos, please click here.