Mastika or Masticha is a liqueur seasoned with mastic, a resin gathered from the mastic tree, a small evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean region. A variant is Mastiha, which is produced on the Greek island of Chios and has a protected designation of origin in the European Union.
The name of the resin, whence the name of the drink, is derived from the Greek “to chew, to gnash the teeth”.
In Greece, two different drinks are known under the umbrella term mastiha. Mastiha Chiou (or Chios Mastiha), is a brandy-based liqueur native to the island of Chios, where mastic has traditionally been cultivated.
The other drink is a strong spirit similar to ouzo or tsikoudia. It is served cold or at room temperature but usually with ice. Both turn white (louche) when poured over ice or mixed with water, forming small crystals when frozen. They are served with various mezedes — appetizers such as octopus, salad, sardines, calamari, fried zucchini, and clams.
Mastiha often accompanies desserts made with almonds and is served at wedding feasts as a digestive. It has a sweet smell and flavor similar to liquorice.
The production of mastika usually starts with alcoholic base of made from fermented fruit (usually grapes) and double distilled and filtered through the roots of the mastic tree. The alcohol can also be flavoured with the resin of the tree to give the alcoholic drink its distinctive pine-like taste.