A popular anise-flavored drink with its origins in Greece and Cyprus, it has a similar taste to arak/raki in Turkey, absinthe in France, and sambuca in Italy. Ouzo is said to one way or another date back to ancient times and it is also believed to be preceded by a drink called Tripouro, also known as raki, which was distilled in the Byzanthine Empire.
One major producer of Ouzo has long been the island of Lesbos, which has had this position in manufacturing Ouzo since production really started in the 19th century following Greek independence. Drinks made outside of Greece can not be labelled Ouzo, this is true as well for the drinks called Tsipouro and Tsikoudia.
There are two major hypothesises about where the name Ouzo might have originated, the first one says the name is derived from the Italian ”uso Massalia” which means ”for use in Marseille”, this was stamped on selected silkworm cocoons and is said to signify quality.
The other, and more likely, version of the origin of the name is that the name Ouzo derives from the word "üzüm" which means grapes in Turkish. Ouzeries, small café-like establishments where they serve Ouzo together with mezedes, appetizers such as octopus, salad and clams, can be found in nearly every town and city throughout Greece.
It is popular in other countries outside of Greece to serve Ouzo as an apéritif, a drink made to stimulate the appetite before the meal, in shot glasses and extremely chilled to the point of almost forming crystals in the glass.
Ouzo is usually clear in color, but when water or ice is added to the drink it turns milky white, this is due to that anethole, the essential oil in anise, is soluble in alcohol but not in water, this same effect can be found in absinthe.