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Mastiha
Mastiha
 
What Is Mastiha?
05/10/2018
You’ve seen it on our liqueur menu or listed as an ingredient in a specialty cocktail: It is masthiha, an alcoholic drink popular throughout the Mediterranean world. Mastiha is made from the resin of the mastic tree, a leafy evergreen that thrives in the summer-dry climate of the region—including on the scrubby hills of Cyprus. Cut the branch of a mastic bush and tear-shaped secretions of resin will form. The secretions harden, forming a pliant substance with a variety of medicinal uses (from ancient times it has been used as a chewing gum) and culinary applications (try mastic-flavoured ice cream!). The climate and soil conditions on the north-eastern Aegean island of Chios best support the commercial cultivation of mastic. After harvesting in June and July, Chians clean and sort the hardened resin. Distillers mix the mastic resin with high-quality alcohol and place it in a bronze alembic tank, where it is heated over a wood fire until it yields an aromatic extract. Then the extract is blended with sugar, mineral water, and more alcohol to create a balanced spirit. Chill a bottle and serve it on ice or as shots, before or after dinner. The taste of mastiha is complex, with slightly bitter notes of anise combining with sweet notes of mint; the aroma is reminiscent of a hike through the evergreens of the Akamas forest. This complexity explains why so many mixologists are experimenting with the liqueur today.