Sunday, September 16, 2012

Exploring Skinos Mastiha Liqueur

Hailing from the small Greek island of Chios, Mastiha liqueur is a Mediterranean tradition that dates back to the ancient world. Hippocrates (500 BCE), the father of medicine, used to mix it with honey to cure stomach pains and fight sickness. Dioscurides (100 BCE), doctor and herbalist, used Mastiha to aid digestion, strengthen gums and whiten teeth. As Mastiha spread throughout the Mediterranean, Roman emperors used it to spice their wine and the harem women of Turkish sultans chewed it to freshen their breath.

While Skinos certainly does not claim to heal what ails you, it's definitely a unique spirit that is one of the fastest growing alcoholic beverages in the Mediterranean. 

To create Skinos Mastiha Liqueur, the Mastiha tree is harvested for its resin once per year in the months of June and July. Small cuts are made in the tree bark which releases small amounts of resin that are collected over ten to twenty days. One Mastiha tree usually produces a humble annual production of eighty to two hundred grams of resin - not a particularly large amount, especially considering that each bottle of Skinos contains six to seven grams of Mastiha! The Mastiha crystals are then transported to the village in wooden casks, where the women of the village carefully select and hand-clean the highest quality Mastiha. The crystals are then mixed with alcohol, allowed to infuse for at least three months, then delicately distilled in copper pot stills. After distillation, sugar, alcohol and mineral water are added, then the finished spirit is bottled in quality glass from Limoges, France.

The result is delicately sweet, impeccably balanced spirit with distinctive notes of cucumber, pine, anise and fresh herbs. Its unique flavor profile earned Skinos the Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Awards in 2011.

Skinos can be served neat, chilled, as an aperitif or digestif, or incorporated into cocktails as well as food.

Skinos Fresh 

1 1/3 oz Skinos
2/3 oz premium gin
1/3 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1/4 cucumber (without skin & seeds)

Muddle cucumber in base of shaker. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a thin slice of cucumber.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

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