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Angelo The Ouzo King of Plaka

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Angelo the Ouzo King, Athens, GreeceThere are few merchants in the Plaka who have been there as long as Angelo or have been involved in as many aspects of the tourism business in Athens most popular neighborhood at the foot of the Acropolis. From gift shops to gold and silver jewelry Angelo has seen the fortunes of the Plaka rise and fall with the whim of the tourists who one year are buying Greek necklaces and the next only souvlakia. But visitors will always buy Ouzo and Angelo happens to be one of the most knowlegable people on the subject of Greece's most popular drink.

"People think all ouzo is the same, but that is a popular myth", says Angelo from his shop at 120 Adrianou Street. "You have many different varieties and flavors. Some sweet. Some soft. Some quite strong and some so pleasant that you don't even need to add water, as many people do."

Angelo has collected as many varieties as he could find. Some popular varieties like Mini and Plomari from Lesvos and some obscure varieties like Plomari's Giannatsi and BabaTzim from Serres, which some say is the best of all.

"Come to my shop and tell me about yourself and I will find an ouzo for you".

If not you can buy a dozen of his small bottles, take them home and try them all and most likely you will finds a favorite.

Besides ouzo, Angelo's shop carries many traditional and natural products from Greece including olive oil, vinegear, wine, figs, herbs, spices, loukoumia and other traditional sweets.

To find Angelo's shop walk up Kydatheneon past the movie theater and turn right on Adrianou. It is just past Byzantino Jewelry on your left. If you are coming from Monastiraki walk up Adrianou and it is about half a block from where it becomes a pedestrian street, just beyond the old demotiko school (with the columns).

Barrel aged TsipuroBy the way... all the liquor I brought back from Greece was in plastic bottles. But on my last trip to Kea when summer had ended, winter was in the air, I was freezing, I had a bottle of this barrel aged tsipuro that was given to me by Angelo the Ouzo King and we all made fun of it because... barrel aged tsipuro? Really? And then because we were wet and cold we drank it and it was so good we drank the whole thing in one night sharing it with everyone in the taverna who loved it and asked where they coukld get it. So I went back to Angelos and hinted very strongly that I would LOVE another bottle. He gave it to me (It cost 37 euros!) and I told him I will make it worthwhile because I will put it on my web-site and everyone will come to his shop asking for it. Ok. Iím not expecting miracles but I want to say that this is REALLY GOOD STUFF. Like bourbon or something. Kind of like grape whiskey or brandy I guess. It comes from Ipirus and if you appreciate fine spirits this is something you will enjoy or at least impress your friends with. Itís called Ipeirotiko Grape Marc Spirit. It is the one on the left in the photo. But the one on the right that my daughter brought me from Athens for Christmas called Dark Cave is even better. Buy one of each and drink them slowly to truly enjoy and to make them last!

Be sure to visit Matt's Guide to Ouzo.

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