Those wishing to partake of alcoholic beverages in Greece would be well advised to stick to the traditional domestic Greek products discussed below, which are freely available, mostly cheap by European standards, and usually of good quality. Any imported i.e. non-Greek alcoholic beverages are likely to be very expensive if genuine, and if cheap may well be "bomba," a locally distilled alcohol with flavorings which sometimes, especially in island bars catering to young people, masquerades as whiskey, gin, etc. If you drink it, you'll be very sorry. Drink in respectable places where you can see the bartender mix your drink.
Even if beer bira: Î¼ÏÏÏÎ± is consumed all around the country, don't come to Greece for the beer. The only local varieties widely available are Mythos and Alpha, but Greeks drink mostly Northern European beers produced under license in Greece like Heineken and Amstel. Heineken is affectionately known as "green"; order it by saying "Mia Prasini."
On the quality front, there is also a microbrewery/restaurant called Craft 2 litre jug also available in large supermarkets, and new organic beer producers like Piraiki Zythopoiia.
Coffee kafes: ÎºÎ±ÏÎÏ is an important part of Greek culture.
The country is littered with kafetÃ©ries kafetÃ©ria singular which are cafes that serve as popular hangouts for Greeks, especially among the under-35s. They tend to be pretty trendy -yet relaxed- and serve a variety of beverages from coffee, to wine, beer, spirits, as well as snacks, desserts, and ice cream. In the pleasant months of spring, summer, and fall, all kafetÃ©ries provide outdoor tables/seating and they are busiest with customers in the late afternoon and evening hours. Several kafetÃ©ries also double as bars.
Kafeneia coffee houses are ubiquitous, found even in the smallest village, where they traditionally served a function similar to that of the village pub in Ireland. Their clientele tends to be overwhelmingly men over 50, however everyone is welcome, male or female, young or old, Greek or foreigner; and you will be treated extremely courteously. However, if you're not interested in cultural immersion to this extent, you may find the kafeneia pretty boring.
Traditionally, coffee is prepared with the grounds left in. It is actually a somewhat lighter version of Turkish coffee but in Greece it's only known as Greek coffee - "ellinikÃ³s kafÃ©s" or simply "ellinikÃ³s." Despite being slightly lighter than the original Turkish coffe, it remains a thick, strong black coffee, served in a small cup either sweetened or unsweetened. If you don't specfy, the coffee is usually served moderately sweet. Greek coffee traditionally was made by boiling the grounds and water on a stove in a special small pot called a "briki." More and more now days it's made by simply shooting steam from an espresso machine into the water/coffee mixture in the briki, resulting in an inferior drink. If you find a place that still actually uses a stove burner to make their coffee, you can be sure it's a traditional cafe.
During the hot summer months, the most popular coffee at the kafetÃ©ries is frappÃ© ÏÏÎ±ÏÎ: shaken iced instant coffee. This is actually an original Greek coffee and can be really refreshing, ordered with or without milk, sweetened or unsweetened.
Coffee can also be made espresso-style, French press mainly at hotels, and with modern filter technology. The latter is sometimes known as ÎÎ±Î»Î»Î¹ÎºÏÏ: gallikos "French" which can lead to some confusion with the press method. It is best to ask for ÏÎ¯Î»ÏÏÎ¿Ï : filtrou, which refers unambiguously to filter coffee. It is best not to ask for black coffee, as it is unlikely that anyone will understand what you are asking for.
Espresso or cappuccino fredo are also gaining popularity. Espresso fredo is simply espresso + ice no milk or foam; cappuccino fredo may be served from mousse containers, not prepared just-in-time; be careful to check.
To be able to purchase alcohol in Greece you must be 17, but there is no legal drinking age. IDing is infrequent, especially in venues that sell food. many independent fast food outlets will serve alcohol
Greece, an ancient wine producing country, offers a wide variety of local wines, from indigenous and imported grape varieties, including fortified and even sparkling wines. Greek wines are generally not available on the international market, as production is relatively small, costs are quite high and little remains for export. However, in the past decade Greek wines have won many international prizes, with the rise of a new generation of wineries. Exports are rising as well.
Wine Krasi: ÎºÏÎ±ÏÎ¹ / oenos: Î¿Î¯Î½Î¿Ï is most Greeks' drink of choice.
Almost every taverna has "barrel wine," usually local, which is usually of good quality and a bargain 6-8 EUR per kilo, but check this before ordering when you are in a touristy area!.
If they have it, try also the Imiglyko Half-Sweet red, even if sweet wine is usually not your preferred thing, it is diffrent from anything you know.
Retsina is a "resinated wine" with a strong, distinctive taste that can take some getting used to; the flavor comes from pine resin, which was once employed as a sealant for wine flasks and bottles. The most well-known and cheap-n-dirty is "Kourtaki Retsina".
Bottled wines have gotten increasingly more expensive; some that the beginner may find worth trying are whites from Santorini and reds from Naoussa and Drama.
Local producers include:
Boutari (http://www.boutari.gr) regions: Peloponnese, Crete, Goumenissa, Santorini, Naoussa.
Skouras (http://www.skouraswines.com) region of Peloponnese. Good selection found in several tourist shops in Nafplion.
Mercouri Estate (http://www.mercouri.gr) region of Peloponnese.
Gentilini (http://www.gentilini.gr) region of Kefalonia. Recommended by Dorling Kindesley's Eyewitness Travel Guides: Greek Islands, 2001;
region of Santorini:Canava Argyros. Volcan Wines . Also, a Volcan Wine Museum.Santo Wines.
Volcan Wines (http://greekproducts.com/...). Also, a Volcan Wine Museum.
Santo Wines. (http://www.santowines.gr)
region of Crete:Peza Union Sitia Agricultural Cooperatives Union Creta Olympias Winery Minos Wines. Lyrarakis Wines Douloufakis Wines Michalakis Winery
Peza Union (http://www.pezaunion.gr/)
Sitia Agricultural Cooperatives Union (http://www.sitiacoop.gr/)
Creta Olympias Winery (http://www.cretaolympias.gr/)
Minos Wines. (http://www.minoswines.gr/)
Lyrarakis Wines (http://www.lyrarakis.gr/)
Douloufakis Wines (http://www.cretanwines.gr/)
Michalakis Winery (http://www.michalakis.gr/)
A glass of water is traditionally served with any drink you order; one glass for each drink, especially with any form of coffee. Sometimes you even get a glass of water first an then you are asked what you want to drink! Sometimes you might as well get a bottle instead of just a glass. In touristy areas you might have to ask for a glass of water if you want one. If you don't get water with a coffee you just stepped into a tourist-trap! Also, if you did not explicitly ask for a bottle instead of a glass, and they try to charge you for it you should refuse!
Tap water in most places a traveler would go today is drinkable; if in doubt, ask your hotel. But often though technically drinkable it doesn't taste very good, especially on some small islands as it is imported in and heavily chlorinated, and many travelers, like many Greeks, prefer to stick to bottled water. By law, water prices in shops must remain within acceptable limits, making it much cheaper than in Anglosphere nations.
The most famous indigenous Greek liquor is ouzo Î¿ÏÎ¶Î¿, an anise-flavored strong spirit 37.5%, which is transparent by itself but turns milky white when mixed with water. Mainlanders do not drink ouzo with ice, but tourists and Greek islanders generally do. A 200 mL bottle can be under €2 in supermarkets and rarely goes above €8 even in expensive restaurants. Mytilene Lesbos is particularly famous for its ouzo. A few to try are "Mini" and "Number 12," two of the most popular made in a middle-of-the-road style, "Sans Rival," one of the most strongly anise-flavored ones, "Arvanitis," much lighter, and the potent "Barba Yianni" and "Aphrodite," more expensive and much appreciated by connoisseurs.
Raki or tsikoudia is the Greek equivalent of the Italian grappa, produced by boiling the remains of the grapes after the wine has been squeezed off. It is quite strong 35-40% of alcohol and in the summer months it is served cold. It costs very little when one buys it in supermarkets or village stores. The raki producing process has become a male event, as usually men are gathering to produce the raki and get drunk by constantly trying the raki as it comes out warm from the distillery. One raki distillery in working order is exhibited in Ippikos Omilos Irakleiou in Heraklion, but they can be found in most large villages. In northern Greece it is also called tsipouro ÏÏÎ¯ÏÎ¿Ï ÏÎ¿. In Crete, raki is traditionally considered an after-dinner drink and is often served with fruit as dessert.