I had heard some buzz about Ouzon soda recently, so when I saw it in a natural food store, I had to pick up a bottle.
Full disclosure here: I already like Ouzo so I expected that I would like this stuff. Really, I am tasting to see how a non-alcoholic Ouzo might translate.
For those of you not familiar with Ouzo, it is an anise, or black licorice, flavored liquor, which once upon a time was billed as a replacement for absinthe. It is responsible for many bad decisions and hangovers anywhere Greek food and culture are on tap.
For a soda the list of four ingredients is exceptionally small, which is a positive in my book. Also notable is the inclusion of star anise rather than traditional anise seed, giving it a milder, more subtle flavor.
Popping the cap and going in for a whiff, you get a strong but not overpowering anise fragrance. It poured crystal clear without a huge carbonation head on it.
I took a sip and the scent and flavor were redolent of anise up front, but faded quickly. It was smooth and refreshing. Of particular note to me was the level of sweetness– or really the lack of sweetness. It was the perfect level for my tastes. Suffice to say I really enjoyed it. My mind began whirring as to what else I could do with it. Adding alcohol seemed odd but perfect. I tried vodka first. It was all right but I’m not a huge vodka fan in general so I found it tasted like alcohol, which diminished the Ouzon deliciousness. Next up was gin. Gin was perfect. The herbaceous notes of the gin blended perfectly with the smell and taste of the anise in the soda. With a twist of lime I think I may have found a new summertime refreshment.
You even get a bit of the cool ouzo clouding effect when you add some water.
In case anyone was unclear, Ouzon gets a very strong try it, with one caveat: if you don’t like black licorice, you won’t like it. If you already enjoy anise, fennel, anisette, sambuca etc., then I think you will find Ouzon a delicious refreshing treat that you will want to have around.