Having parents from Greece, I’ve had the good fortune of visiting the country many times in my life. On one of my last visits, I discovered the unique world of Mastiha – a product so versatile that it’s used for everything from chewing gum to alcohol.
I recently realized it had been a long time since I experimented with Greek ingredients in a cocktail – they’re not exactly easy to find here in Canada. But as fate would have it, a good friend stepped in and provided the inspiration (and ingredient) I needed.
On his last trip to the Greece, fellow BSS blogger Peter Gouvatsos gifted me a bottle of Greek liqueur called Kitron. Kitron is made from the fruits and leaves of the citron tree. Citrons are similar to lemons, but have a bumpier texture and stronger taste.
Kitron liqueur comes in three varieties:
- Yellow (strongest, less sugar)
- Green (sweeter, less alcohol)
- Clear (balanced)
Like the mastic tree which is only found on the island of Chios, the citron tree is only found on the island of Naxos, the largest of the Greek Cyclades.
So with a bottle of Kitron in hand, I set to task on creating a uniquely Greek cocktail. Here’s what I came up with:
In a shaker with ice, add all ingredients except for club soda and shake well. Strain into ice-filled Collins glass and top with club soda.
The final product is sweet, lemony, herbal, and refreshing. Kitron can have quite a strong taste, so I would say less is more.
As you may have guessed, getting your hands on a bottle is no easy task. And due to shortages of the citron tree, it can also be difficult to track down in Greece outside of Naxos. But if you ever find yourself there, I suggest making it a point to tour the various Kitron distilleries on the island. You can pick up a bottle or do as the locals do and order it as a digestif.
Oh, and the island is absolutely stunning, so there’s that too.
Although the goal of this blog is to provide you with cocktail recipes you can make at home, it’s also a showcase of our backgrounds and experiences. As with my Mastiha posts, this write-up highlights an ingredient that’s out of most people’s reach. But I hope that it’s at least informative and spurs your curiosity to the sheer variety that’s out there.
Maybe it’ll even spur you to the forests of Naxos. Cheers!