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The 5 Best Substitutes For Ouzo

Have you ever been to a Greek restaurant and ordered ouzo?

It’s an incredibly popular drink in Greece, but if you don’t have access to it, there are many substitutes that can give your drinks the same flavor profile.

Ouzo is an anise-flavored liqueur made from grapes and flavored with herbs, spices, and other ingredients.

It has a strong licorice taste that can be quite overpowering for some people.

Fortunately, there are several alternatives out there that can provide the same flavor without being too intense.

In this article, I will discuss five of the best substitutes for ouzo so that you can still enjoy its unique flavor without having to go all the way to Greece!

What is Ouzo?


Ouzo is an anise-flavored alcoholic spirit that hails from Greece.

It is typically distilled with a base of grape, grain, or both and flavored with herbs, spices, fruits and other botanicals like star anise, coriander and cardamom.

Unlike some other spirits such as vodka or whiskey, ouzo does not have to be aged for any length of time prior to consumption.

This makes it a great option for those who want a quick drink without sacrificing on flavor.

When served straight up in chilled glasses over ice cubes, ouzo has a clear color and will become cloudy when mixed with water due to its high oil content.

The flavor profile of ouzo can vary depending on the specific brand but generally features sweet notes of licorice and floral aromas combined with subtle hints of woody spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

It’s commonly served neat or mixed in cocktails like the classic Ouzini (ouzo + vermouth) or even used as a cooking ingredient in marinades for seafood dishes like Octopus Saganaki!

The 5 Best Substitutes For Ouzo

Ouzo is a popular spirit, but it can be hard to find in some places.

If you’re looking for an alternative, here are five substitutes that will offer the same experience:

1 – Pernod


If you’re in a pinch and don’t have ouzo on hand, Pernod is an excellent substitute.

Pernod is an anise-flavored liqueur that shares similar properties to ouzo.

It has a strong licorice flavor with hints of citrus and fennel, which makes it perfect for cocktails or sipping neat over ice.

Just like ouzo, Pernod can be mixed with water or soda to create a cloudy concoction that will make any drink more interesting.

As the two liqueurs share many characteristics, Pernod is often used as a direct swap for ouzo when making classic Greek drinks such as the Ouzini cocktail.

2 – Italian Sambuca

Italian Sambuca

If you don’t have ouzo on hand but want to enjoy a similar anise-flavored liquor, Italian Sambuca is the way to go.

Sambuca has many of the same notes as ouzo, including licorice and herbs.

The main difference between them lies in their alcohol content – Sambuca is usually about 40% ABV compared to Ouzo’s higher percentage of 45%.

Sambuca also has a slightly sweeter and smoother flavor profile than its Greek counterpart, making it perfect for sipping neat or adding into cocktails.

For example, you can use it in place of Ouzo for a classic Greek frappe cocktail or add some Sambuca to your espresso for an unforgettable after-dinner drink.

3 – Vodka and Anise Seeds

Vodka and Anise Seeds

If you don’t have ouzo on hand, why not try vodka and anise seeds?

This is a great substitution for that unique flavor of ouzo.

To make it, mix one part vodka to two parts water in a glass.

Add some freshly ground anise seeds and let the mixture infuse together at room temperature for 30 minutes or more.

Afterward, strain the liquid through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl before transferring it back into the glass.

You can then enjoy your homemade ouzo substitute!

4 – Absinthe


Absinthe has been around for centuries and it’s known as the “green fairy,” due to its distinct green hue.

It is made with herbs such as wormwood and aniseed, making it quite similar to ouzo in terms of flavor profile.

The main difference between the two spirits lies in their alcohol content; while ouzo clocks in at 40-45% ABV, absinthe boasts much higher levels of potency ranging from 50-75%.

This makes absinthe a more powerful drink that should be enjoyed responsibly.

However, don’t let this scare you away!

If used carefully and precisely measured out, it can make for an interesting alternative to ouzo when used in cocktails or other recipes that call for stronger spirits.

5 – French Pastis

French Pastis

Pastis is a popular anise-flavored liqueur from France that’s similar to Greek ouzo.

It has a milder flavor compared to ouzo, but it still packs in plenty of aniseed and fennel notes due to the presence of star anise in its recipe.

It’s usually served with a splash of cold water or soda which helps bring out more of its subtle flavors.

The addition of other ingredients like licorice root and wormwood gives pastis its distinct herbal flavor profile.

Pastis can be used as an ingredient in cocktails or simply enjoyed on its own over ice – it’s sure to delight any palate!


In conclusion, ouzo is a unique spirit that has a distinct flavor that some people may find too overpowering.

Fortunately, there are several substitutes available that can offer a similar experience without the intensity.

Pernod, Italian Sambuca, Vodka and Anise Seeds, Absinthe, and French Pastis are all excellent alternatives to ouzo and can be used in cocktails or enjoyed neat.


The 5 Best Substitutes For Ouzo

If you don't have access to ouzo, don't worry! In this article, I'm sharing five of the best substitutes that you can use to recreate that classic flavor. I'll provide an overview of each substitute, as well as tips on how to use it properly. Whether you're looking for a non-alcoholic option or something to use in a recipe, you'll find what you need here!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Substitutes
Cuisine American, Greek
Servings 4 people
Calories 355 kcal


  • Pernod
  • Italian Sambuca
  • Vodka and Anise Seeds
  • Absinthe
  • French Pastis


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
CEO at Happy Muncher | | Website | + posts

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.