NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Step aside Brandy Sour. The tiny island which gave the world booze disguised as "iced tea" and got away with it has a new cocktail with an ancient twist designed to tickle the most discerning taste buds.
Home to the world's oldest wine that is still in production, Cyprus's last offering to the world of "mixology" was Brandy Sour -- an alcoholic drink designed to look like iced tea that was invented for Egypt's holidaying King Farouk in the 1930s by a Cyprus barman.
As the popularity of cocktails make a comeback in New York, London and other global party hotspots, Cyprus has brought the world the "Fire and Forget" cocktail -- winner of the first pan-Cyprian Original Cyprus Cocktail Competition this year.
The latest Cypriot cocktail expected to take the drinking world by storm was invented by 19-year-old student Stergios Tikas, who combined three Cypriot spirits and a sweet wine whose heritage stretches back to Homeric times.
The drink is a combination of Greek aniseed-flavored spirit Ouzo, Cypriot Zivania, Nama sweet dessert wine, orange liqueur, mixed with pomegranate and orange juice, with a drop or two of rose cordial.
"Red Zivania at the bottom of the glass has the bite, the yellow mixture at the top soothes it," Tikas said.
But Nama may be the star ingredient of the drink.
Cyprus prides itself on its boozy heritage, with historians saying its sweet Commandaria dessert wine has been made on the island since at least 1,000 BC and is thought to be the oldest wine still in production. It was known in Homeric times as Nama.
Normally associated with religious rituals rather than something one would serve guests, Commandaria or Nama is starting to win back converts among drinks professionals.
"Some Cypriots would say, I won't drink Commandaria, because that is what a peasant would do and would prefer a (French variety) instead," said Demetris Pavlides, a sommelier.
"I would challenge anyone to taste from two unmarked bottles and do an assessment. You would see that the quality of Cypriot Commandaria is perhaps better."
Fire and Forget is made using two shakers. The Zivania, Nama, pomegranate and rose cordial are mixed in the first. The Ouzo, orange liqueur and orange juice are mixed in the second. The mixtures are then poured separately into a martini glass and garnished with mint and strawberry.
Editing by Paul Casciato