When you think of Greek spirits the first thing comes to mind is Ouzo, the anise flavour liqueur. If you’ve tried Greek wine (Retsina) you might have liked it, or maybe not. Some of the wines use a pine resin to seal the barrels leaving a unique flavour that is what people remember about these wines. These wines are not quite like other vintages. After that the only other spirit that is well known is Metaxa. Some people say Metaxa is a brandy, but in reality, it is more of a brandy-based liqueur, since there are all sorts of things added to it, including wine and natural botanical substances.

For the uninitiated, Metaxa is basically a flavoured brandy from Greece. Its base is brandy and is sweetened with Muscat wines and then flavour with a selection of herbs. Metaxa is aged in limousine oak barrels for three, five seven or even 12 years. When you see a bottle of Seven Star Metaxa, the number of stars signifies the age. Other ages are available (like 12 and 16 years), but rarely found outside of Greece. Caramel colouring is also added to the Metaxa to give it a deep brown/gold colour.

The flavour of Metaxa is unique, but very pleasant. It has a sweetness that comes from the Muscat wines. It also has some citrus notes, maybe coriander, and other botanicals. Rumour has it that rose leaves are part of the botanical mix. The finish is smooth wih light herbal notes lingering on the palate. The most obvious things is that the Metaxa is extremely smooth, without any heat commonly associated with brandies, considering it is 40% alcohol. It still has some warmth, just not any burn.

The best thing about Metaxa is that it has a lot of properties that make it good for use in cocktails. First, it is smooth, but it still has some heat. Second, it has lots of subtle flavours so it will work with a wide variety of mixers. Any cocktail made with brandy could easily substitute Metaxa for variety. For example, you can take an American Beauty and turn it into a Greek Beauty. Or you can take a Baltimore Bracer and turn it into an Athens Bracer.

Metaxa Cocktails

Athens Bracer
1½ oz Metaxa
1 oz Ouzo
1 Egg White

Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Note: A Baltimore Brace uses brandy and anisette instead of Metaxa and Ouzo.

American Beauty
1 oz Metaxa 5-Star
1 oz Orange Juice
½ oz Dry Vermouth
¼ tsp Creme de Menthe (white)
1 tsp Grenadine
½ oz Tawny Port

Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Greek Coffee1 oz Metaxa
½ oz Apricot Brandy
4 oz Hot Coffee

Add hot coffee to a sugar rimmed glass and top with whipped cream.

Coffee Royale
3/4 oz Metaxa
3/4 oz Galliano

Fill with Hot Black Coffee

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