When I think back to the best cocktail I had in 2014, a few come to mind right away. We loved the artisanal fall cocktails at Ghibellina a few months ago. I really enjoyed trying out Art in the Age‘s SAGE organic spirit, then stumbling on the Rosemary Sage Fizz recipe with SAGE around Christmastime.
However, the cocktail that really wow-ed me in 2014 was the “Tears of Chios” drink that we tried in Athens over the summer. Of course, the setting always plays a part in a good food/drink experience. Not only were we in Athens, but we were hanging out at a rooftop bar overlooking the Acropolis!
Beyond our unique surroundings, this drink is made with an incredible liqueur that we discovered on our first day in Greece: Skinos Mastiha. Mastiha is an ingredient that comes from the sap of trees found ONLY on the Greek island of Chios, where my great-grandfather is from! (I’m sure some of you are sick of hearing me share about this — but I am still so excited about the discovery!)
Mastiha is know as the “tears of Chios” throughout Greece because of how it forms from the trees in droplets. Mastiha is really popular throughout the country for the taste and apparent medicinal qualities. You can find it in gum, candy, tomato sauce, sparkling water (so good), and… in liqueur. Many restaurants serve mastiha liqueur as an after-meal digestif, which is how we first discovered it.
I struggle with how to describe the taste of mastiha. The tree is a member of the pistachio family, and usually I think of a combination of the forest and candy when I am tasting it. Mastiha is definitely herbaceous, and seems to go well with citrus flavors.
The “Tears of Chios” drink includes Skinos Mastiha, vodka, fresh-squeezed lime juice, agave, and muddled grapes plus mint. It is so refreshing and tasty!
I actually brought a pitcher of it to a Cocktail Contest with our “wine night” group of friends a few months ago (a separate cocktail contest event from this one).
There were some great entries, including a fabulous mocktail and a valiant presentation effort for the Pimms cocktail with the cucumber spiral! In the end though, our “Tears of Chios” entry won the most votes! Maybe part of it was the family background story that I couldn’t stop sharing…
Jules Catering blog wrote a fabulous review of this cocktail here. You can find Skinos Mastiha locally at Potomac Wines and Spirits in Georgetown — thank goodness! Beyond the “Tears of Chios” drink, we also have used Skinos Mastiha successfully in a Cucumber Collins-like concoction. This drink involved fresh cucumber juice, mastiha liqueur, and a muddled combo of basil, lime, and agave. Topped off with soda water.
- 2 ounces skinos mastiha
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1 ounce agave
- 4 red grapes, plus extra for garnish
- 4 fresh mint leaves, plus extra for garnish
- Muddle grapes and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker.
- Add the remaining ingredients with ice and shake vigorously.
- Strain and serve over ice.
- Garnish with grapes and mint leaves.