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Monday, Five Thirty: This Potent European Sipper is Made of 'Gum Drops'

Where: Chios, Greece
April 7, 2014 at 6:13 PM | by | ()

In celebration of the most needed happy hour of the week, we're launching a new column called “Monday, Five Thirty” that will take a look at different vices from around the world, specifically boozes and beers unique to a destination. Last week, it was a novelty shot that might make you lose your lunch. This week, we head back to Europe for a look at a potent after-dinner drink.

Originally made on the island of Chios, this Greek after-dinner drink will put you under the table if you're not careful. Typically distilled to be between 40-50% alcohol, Mastika will not only help with digestion, it will certainly help you sleep.

Though not made with anise, the flavor profile and body may remind you a bit of Sambuca. During production, it is filtered through the roots of the mastic tree, a small evergreen native to the Mediterranean. It is then seasoned with the resin gathered from the tree. The resin is collected and added to Mastika in a liquid state, but, when hardened, takes the form of tears or drops. This "Mastic Gum," shown above, is a stand-alone product in its own right that many chew for both medicinal and culinary purposes. The word "mastic" is derived from the Greek "to chew."

While it has Greek origins, Mastika can now be found all over Europe, especially Turkey, Bulgaria, and Macedonia. In Bulgaria, it is used to make a "cloud cocktail." In Macedonia, it is usually drank before meals as an aperitif. It is tough to find here in the States, but your best bet is to look for it in Greek grocery stores in large metropolitan areas.

[Photo: Wisdom of the Plant Devas]

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