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what is the national drink of cyprus

what is the national drink of cyprus

Cyprus, a Mediterranean island with a rich history and diverse cultural heritage, is renowned for its delectable cuisine and unique beverages. Among the many traditional drinks that grace Cypriot tables, one holds a special place as the national drink – Zivania. This potent and ancient spirit embodies the essence of Cyprus, reflecting its deep-rooted traditions and customs. In this article, we will explore the history, production, and cultural significance of Zivania, the cherished national drink of Cyprus.

  1. A Historic Elixir: Origins of Zivania

Zivania’s roots can be traced back centuries, making it a significant part of Cyprus’ heritage. This potent grape-based spirit is believed to have originated in the rural villages of the island, where it was traditionally produced by local families. It holds a prominent place in Cypriot customs, being served at social gatherings, celebrations, and religious ceremonies.

  1. The Art of Distillation

The production of Zivania is an age-old craft that involves distilling the by-products of wine-making, namely the grape skins, stalks, and seeds. After the grape harvest, these remnants, known as “pomace,” are collected and placed in large copper stills for distillation. The process involves heating the pomace and capturing the alcohol vapors, which are then condensed back into liquid form, resulting in the clear, colorless Zivania spirit.

  1. A Taste of Cyprus: Flavor Profile

Zivania’s character is defined by its strong alcoholic content, typically ranging from 40% to 45% ABV. Unlike grape-based spirits like wine or brandy, Zivania lacks aging in wooden barrels, resulting in a strong and fiery taste that might take newcomers by surprise. The spirit offers an intense aromatic experience, with hints of grape and a distinct touch of aniseed.

  1. Cultural Significance

Zivania holds a significant cultural role in Cyprus, being more than just a drink. It is deeply embedded in the island’s traditions, representing hospitality, camaraderie, and a strong sense of community. It is often enjoyed during special occasions, family gatherings, and religious festivities, cementing its position as an integral part of Cypriot culture.

  1. Health Benefits and Medicinal Uses

Beyond its cultural significance, Zivania has been historically celebrated for its perceived health benefits and medicinal properties. Traditionally, it was used as a natural remedy for various ailments, from colds and flu to digestive issues. However, it is essential to remember that excessive consumption of any alcoholic beverage may have adverse effects on health, and moderation is always key.

what is the national drink of cyprus

What are some popular traditional Cypriot meze that are typically served with Zivania?

Cypriot cuisine is known for its flavorful and diverse meze dishes. Meze refers to a selection of small dishes that are served as appetizers or as a main meal. When enjoying Zivania, it is common to pair it with various meze options. Here are some popular traditional Cypriot meze dishes that are often served alongside Zivania:

  1. Halloumi: A famous Cypriot cheese made from a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk. It is typically grilled or fried and served with a squeeze of lemon.
  2. Souvlaki: Skewered and grilled pieces of marinated pork, chicken, or lamb. Souvlaki is often served with pita bread, tzatziki sauce, and fresh vegetables.
  3. Taramasalata: A creamy dip made from salted and cured fish roe (usually carp or cod), mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, onions, and bread crumbs. It is commonly enjoyed with bread or pita.
  4. Keftedes: Cypriot meatballs made from a mixture of ground meat (usually beef or pork), onion, herbs, and breadcrumbs. They are usually fried and served with a yogurt or tzatziki sauce.
  5. Dolmades: Grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of rice, herbs, onions, and sometimes minced meat. Dolmades are typically served cold and can be vegetarian or meat-filled.
  6. Loukaniko: Cypriot sausages made from a combination of pork, lamb, or both, flavored with various spices like cinnamon, coriander, and fennel. They are often grilled or fried and served with lemon.
  7. Koupepia: Also known as stuffed vine leaves, koupepia are vine leaves rolled and filled with a mixture of ground meat, rice, onions, and herbs. They are typically cooked in a tomato-based sauce.
  8. Tzatziki: A refreshing yogurt-based dip made with grated cucumber, garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs such as dill or mint. It is commonly served with bread or used as a sauce for various dishes.

These are just a few examples of the many delicious meze dishes you can find in Cyprus. Enjoying Zivania with a selection of meze creates a delightful culinary experience and allows you to savor the flavors of Cypriot cuisine.


Zivania, the national drink of Cyprus, is more than just a spirit; it is a symbol of the island’s rich cultural heritage and sense of community. With its ancient roots, traditional distillation process, and unique flavor profile, Zivania remains an enduring part of Cypriot life, cherished by locals and enjoyed by visitors. As you delve into the Cypriot culture and immerse yourself in its traditions, don’t miss the opportunity to savor a taste of Cyprus’ soul – a glass of Zivania.