mastic greek liqueur

Mastic - The Greek Liqueur You Need To Know About

There are many little known liqueurs from around the globe which have a place within the heart of their country of origin. Now's our chance to learn from Greece and some of it's best bartenders all about the magical Mastic, a Greek Liqueur. So take it away lads.

Every summer the residents of the Mastic villages of Chios, known as Mastichiades, carve the branches of their trees from the Schinias region with an iron tool. What drops from these lesions is known as Mastic.  

This process has been repeated in the south of Chios for the last 2500 years.  But, what is Mastic?

mastic

What is Mastic?

Mastic is the resin from the Schinias region tree, a member of the tree family which also includes Pistachio and Terebinth trees.  Resin is the hard crystal shaped tree drops from various Flion trees.  The most well known resin is frankincense and myrrh, gifts the three wise men gave to humanity, along with gold.  This indicates their great worth and value.

People in antiquity recognized these resins’ worth and used them in the making of balsams, medicines, embalming, in disinfecting and in incense burning.  

Though the Schinias trees can be found throughout the Mediterranean, it is only in the south of Chios that Mastic is produced.   

This is attributed to the region’s microclimate, of the selective and systematic cultivation which led to a new type of Schinias tree which is more durable and productive.  It is also due to Chios’ commercial resourcefulness from ancient times when Mastic became identified with the island.  

Mastic has the title of Protected Designation of Origin and its cultivation is listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Catalogue.  

History Of Mastic

From the 5th century BC, when the first reference of it is made in Orpheus’ Hymns, Mastic traveled to all of the Mediterranean.  It was the first gum in ancient Greece and used in Roman orgiastic feasts.

It made its way into Alexandrian and Arabic doctors’ recipes, to Franciscan monks’ monasteries, to English noblemen’s drinks, to Christian and Muslim incense rituals, to Andalusian cooks’ recipes, to Ottoman sultans’ harems, to spoons of the Greek coffee shops, Kafeneion, and is now found in the finest bars worldwide.  

One of the greatest legends surrounding Mastic is how Christopher Columbus, knowing full well the value of it, presented a Mastic tree, as well as rare spices and exotic fruits, as part of his findings in Cuba, to guarantee continued funding for his trip.  The Genoese Columbus knew of the Schinias trees well and had visited Chios, which was under the governance of Genoa at the time.  With this ploy, he attempted to prove that his journey, fruitless until then, was actually worthwhile.  

The symbolic daughter and noblewoman of Chios, named Mastic by the locals, was first found on distilleries from the early 18th century.  Before that there were numerous recipes in which mastic oil was mixed with balsam or spices for therapeutic and even decorative purposes.  

Modern Day Mastic

The great difference in distilling has been made by the Skinos Company, turning the mastic liqueur into a recognized Mediterranean ingredient and putting Mastic in the finest bars of Europe and the world.  With clever and persistent marketing, as well as an exceptional product, Skinos has substantially opened Mastic to the international market and has made it a recognized brand since 2010.    

The next stage comes from the Plomariou distillery in Mitilini.  There, at a privately owned distillery, a new mastic extract is produced from bronze distillers and 100% Chios mastic.  The creation of M Dry Mastiha, which departs from the well-established liqueurs, is where the dry spirit category in Greece begins.

Masticmastic   

What Cocktails Can I Make With Mastic Liqueur?

Aperitif M

50ml M Mastiha dry

120 Prosecco wine

Rosalie flower

Funky m

50 ml Mastiha dry

25ml Woodford Reserve Bourbon chamomile infused

25ml lime

25ml pineapple unsweetened

12.5 ml cinnamon syrup

2 dashes angostura

Sweet and sour

50ml Mastiha dry

25 ml lime

25ml honey syrup

4 pieces green apple muddle in the shaker

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Written and edited by:

Yannis Petros Petris (Bartender - Athens, Greece)

Dionysis Polatos (Bartender - Athens, Greece)

John Stavroulakis (Bartender - Athens, Greece)

 

Have we come across this Liqueur before? Know of any other cocktails it would work perfectly in?

 


crystal head vodka

Crystal Head Vodka | Review

Founder: Dan Aykroyd
Year Founded: 2008
Distillery Location: St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Master Distiller / Blender: Phil Power, master distiller
Types of Spirits Made: Vodka

 

Actor, screenwriter and Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd Seven years ago unleashed  the – three litre – size of his Crystal Head vodka.

The Saturday Night Live cast member and writer and star of Ghostbusters first launched his vodka, which is filtered through semi-precious crystals known as Herkimer diamonds and bottled in glinting glass models of human skulls back in 2008, and it seems the original Crystal Head Vodka is just as memorising as always.

The bottles are modeled on a controversial and mysterious set – numbering around a dozen – of crystal skulls that many believe were carved thousands of years ago by ancient Mesoamericans. An extraordinary range of supernatural powers have been attributed to these, with some New Age mystics insisting the skulls contain the history of the entire world because they have the ability to pictorially record all events that happen around them and all the people who come into contact with them.

Needless to say such Indiana Jones type claims are so extraordinary that scientists have seen fit to investigate some of the skulls in question and drawn the conclusion that they appear to have been carved using machines only available since the 19th century.

Even so, an air of mystery lingers and there is something haunting about even the newly designed Crystal Heads, made by Bruni Glass in Italy, with their cargo of vodka, which pours through the top of the skull as if decanting brains through a trepanning hole.

Crystal Head vodka is made from Canadian corn and glacial meltwater from around the island of St John in Newfoundland, hundreds of miles from the nearest major conurbation. It goes through four distillation processes and is then filtered seven times, the last three times through those Herkimer diamonds.

Credits/ Research: telegraph.co.uk.

 

I'm a big fan of @crystal_head Vodka and i want to thank them Click To Tweet

crystal head vodka

 

Now that should of tickled your tastebuds

But what do we bartenders think about it?

The vodka itself has character. Smooth, with a little bit of burn. Some liquorice on the finish that tends to linger. And who doesn't like lingering liquorice in a vodka.

But apart from the tastes it all about the looks, and it looks really good

The first time we saw it was at a cocktail convention in Manchester, England back in 2008 just before it came to market. I remember very clearly looking around at the people we were with and everyone was in absolute awe. We ordered Two bottles for our backbar.

You have to remember that at this time in our lives we didn't think vodka all that exciting.

But when we saw the skull glistening against the halogen lamps of a convention centre vodka suddenly became very exciting again for us.

It is designed by the American artist John Alexander and fast became a fashionable drink. Crystal Head Vodka was not only created by a celebrity but is also a favourite of rock legend Keith Richards and actor Johnny Depp.

Coupled with this original promo video for Crystal Head Vodka you can see why it took off, see our review below.

https://youtu.be/SKqjIv91Zx8

 

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Sampled on 30/06/2015

 

What reviews do you want to see next?