Ouzo in a league of its own

The time-honored Greek habit of washing down a snack, or even a proper meal, with the fiery ouzo spirit may save Greece from a conviction in the European Court for under-taxing the aniseed-flavored drink. Yesterday, European Court of Justice Advocate-General Antonio Tizzano rejected the European Commission’s argument that there was no reason ouzo should be taxed less than other heady concoctions such as vodka, whisky and gin. The tax on ouzo is only half that on other strong drinks, making the Greek drink a much cheaper buy. Athens had claimed ouzo merits protection as it is produced in isolated areas – giving Thessaloniki as an example. Tizzano, however, pointed out that ouzo is generally drunk by people over 45 in traditional restaurants and ouzo tavernas, and therefore cannot be considered as a competitor to other hard liquor, which the advocate-general said is mostly consumed by 18 to 44-year-olds in bars and clubs. Further, Tizzano said, ouzo is made in a different way than other spirits. A decision is expected in the next few months.