Local drinks in Crete

Water

You can buy bottled water (in plastic bottles only, no glass here and certainly nothing returnable) but why do so when the tap water is drinkable almost everywhere. Your empty plastic bottles will contribute to the mountains of plastic rubbish for which there is no adequate recycling facility. Having said this, I must add that water quality has deteriorated in the last few years. Tap water used to taste great but nowadays, it is starting to taste like any city tap water. But it is certainly no health hazard.
You can also ask for tap water in a carafe when eating out. There is no compulsion to get bottled water with your meal. I always do, not to save on the (minimal) cost but to prevent one more plastic bottle being added to the rubbish.

Juices

Fresh juice is not cheap which is surprising when you think how many oranges there are (especially in the winter) but very tasty. You can also buy fruit juice in tetrapacks, again, not that cheap.

Greek coffee

Don't make the faux-pas of calling this a Turkish coffee, even though it is just the same stuff! Contrary to belief, Greek coffee does not have to be a very sweet coffee, as it is made to taste. Greek coffee is a generic name. When you order one you use a name which will indicate how sweet you want it: "sketo" means without sugar, "metrio" is medium sweet and "glyko" is sweet (very). It is still the beverage of choice in the traditional "kafeneion" but is being supplanted by espresso, filter coffee and cappuccino in the more modern places.

Beer

Beer is definitely not a Cretan drink but has become popular with the locals as well. You can get beer everywhere. The main Greek (or manufactured in Greece under license) brands are Amstel, Heineken, Alfa and Mythos. All are OK, and really a matter of taste. You can also buy imported beers but they are more expensive.

 

 

Wine

Cretan wine is mainly home-made and rarely bottled. Traditionally there is no such thing as red or white wine. The wine is a golden brown colour with a fairly high alcohol content (13 - 14%) and more akin to port or sherry. Whether you like it or not is very much a matter of taste and of course a matter of where you drink it. This wine is pretty cheap which doesn't mean bad.
There is also bottled wine being produced on Crete with more and more producers and co-operatives bottling pretty decent wines.
Really good wine is generally produced in other places, for example Naoussa which has some excellent wines, somewhat comparable to Bordeaux. But Crete is catching up on the high quality front.
Although you can find it in most restaurants, retsina is not a traditional Cretan wine and therefore generally not produced in Crete.

Spirits

Ouzo is NOT at all a Cretan drink but of course you can find it everywhere. It is generally drunk diluted with water but some prefer to drink it pure.
The local "hard drink" is called "raki" or "tsikoudia" (or "tsipouro" on the Greek mainland) and is distilled from what is left over from pressing grapes, so in fact it is the same as the Italian grappa. It is a strong, clean spirit, meaning that you'll get drunk on it quickly but will feel halfway human the next day. It is served everywhere, as a welcome drink or to round up a meal.
A rare variation of it is called 'mournoraki' and is distilled from mulberries. It is very strong but quite nice. Almost impossible to buy.

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Crete photo of the day
Crete Photo of the Day