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Move over Ouzo. Make Way for Stray Dog Wild Gin!

By on June 28, 2020

When it comes to Greek spirits, we think of lots of sunshine, cool beachside island breezes, and crystal clear waters of aquamarine blue distilled enough to swim in. We also think of another type of spirit, Ouzo, and expect to find it on every menu at every taverna over a plate of grilled octopus or fried sardines. But we rarely consider gin to be on that menu, especially hand-crafted in small batches using traditional copper pot stills in Greece. This is no ordinary gin. The brainchild behind Stray Dog Wild Gin is restaurateur John Livanos, a member of the Livanos Restaurant Group which owns several restaurants in Manhattan, including the famed Molyvos, Oceana, and Ousia, to name a few.

John Livanos

John Livanos

While food can be a culinary art form on its own, food and drink go hand-in-hand.  John, having had a longstanding curiosity about the art of distillation and how it, too, can be crafted into an art form, decided to try his hand at joining the big gin leagues that would take it much farther than a basic shot of floor polish that include the less evolved spirits of alcohol. Gin and Greece? Sure, why not? If you happen to come across one of few master Greek distillers, like Dimitris Melissanidis, who studied in London and understands the gin making process, you go to work and discover what is unique about Greece that can be bottled in a spirit. John wanted to capture a moment in a bottle through his travels.

Master Distiller Dimitris Melissanidis

Master Distiller Dimitris Melissanidis

Most gins, as John explained, are made of juniper berries as the common ingredient, and can be combined with a combo of any herbs. John, understanding that herbs are a big component of Greek gastronomy, decided to use a unique combination of botanicals such as sage, bay leaf, rosemary, fennel seed, orange, lemon and mastiha (the sap used from the tree to make gum in pure form).

With this gin, John wanted to capture the Greek elan, combining Aridea Spring water with these herbs, which he compared to a stray dog – wild, untamed, and free. And like a wild dog, this gin is part of a pack, arriving alongside an elite group of gin, that holds its own individuality.

While other gins tend to be more floral and flowery, Stray Dog Wild Gin has a savory, herbal palate. It’s unique. It’s different. It’s still gin. Delish.com touts it as the 11 Best Bottles of Gin You Can Buy at Any Price Point. That’s a great start for a country that has no real gin export, or is even considered a gin making country. Nothing against the tried and true anise flavored ouzo; tourists will always want to try it – just like tsipouro, the Greek equivalent of moonshine, and Retsina, the pine of wines that’s both earthy and dirty, but will never be considered a fine wine.

Greece has come along way in its repertoire of gourmet to be more inclusive and adventurous with its homegrown commodities. As restaurateurs, chefs and food exporters continue to bring Greek cuisine to the forefront, making it more popular and showcasing it in a way that’s more modern and accessible, gin is for the win. And this gin is smooth enough to drink on its own or mixed with tonic water that helps enhance the flavors.  Or you can just buy a bottle off their website or through other distributors, and look up a variety of cocktail recipes to satisfy your boozy gin palate.

This gin is new, innovative, and adds a fresh concept to an old school classic that can be appreciated by gin connoisseurs all over the world. It’s straight out of the rolling hills of wild mountain grown herbs, Mediterranean citrus trees, and the natural spring waters of Greece.

Stray Dog Wild Gin is on my list of must tries, and like it’s label implies, their charitable mission is to support animal welfare.  A portion of all sales is donated to organizations and shelters in Greece that provide food, veterinary care and homes for stray animals.  For more information, their website is StrayDogGin.com

Stray Dog Wild Gin is exclusively being imported by Diamond Wine Importers.  To learn more about distribution opportunities, their contact is: info@diamondwineimporters.com

About Athena Efter