The Mastical Maia – A Springtime Elixir

A refreshingly different Spring cocktail made with Skinos Mastiha, grapefruit, and rosemary syrup #cocktail #mastic #Greek #beverages

The Mastical Maia – A Springtime cocktail that celebrates the rebirth of the land. This bright and herbal cocktail features Skinos Mastiha, a regional Greek spirit from the island of Chios.

A Welcome Spring and Rebirth

The month of March came in like a lion (both weather-wise and project-wise), trapping me in the house at times…but also allowing for blissful reprieves. Spring has sprung, or so they tell me, and the stark, cold barren winter is about to give way to greenery and birdsong. The thawing of earth brings about rebirth, a feeling of hope for renewal and growth.

One sunny afternoon, I attended several events around the city, including the “Rebirth of Greece” Exclusive Wine Tasting & Social at The Broken Plate. This family run Greek restaurant has been in our neighbourhood for 15 years. It began as a typical ‘Tavernetta Style’ Greek restaurant where you could actually lock arms and dance in a simplified Greek style, which culminated in Pentozali, or plate smashing. My mother loved it!

As the years went by, times and local attitudes changed and the owners also craved a change, a rebirth which reflected the changes of their homeland. They have breathed new life into their restaurant, while still preserving the warm culture and traditions of the Greek people. The owners of The Broken Plate may have renovated their space and altered the menu to reflect a more modern representation of the Greek culinary scene, but beneath the updates there still beats the passionate heart of traditional Greece.

Have you ever been fed by a Greek ‘Yaya’?

Have you ever been fed by a Greek ‘Yaya’? They will lovingly stuff you until you are cross-eyed and rolling out the door! After I sat down with my table mates (who were all serious wine examiners) I realized that I was the only one really there for the food. So I ate. So many plates were placed before me that I lost count. It’s a bit of a blur but my favourite dishes were the Grilled Octopus with Clams, Lentils, and White Wine Foam, the Red Beet Hummus platter, and the Rotisserie Chicken with Red Cabbage and Pickled Cranberry Slaw. There were seven other dishes, plus dessert and I would go back for every one of them (though not all at once!).

The wine tasting portion was low on my priorities since I had to drive to the city centre for another event but the wine examiners were in full force with their notebooks and spitting buckets. I don’t think I’ll ever turn into a professional wine person because I just can’t bring myself to spit it out!

Skinos Mastiha. It Was Love at First Sight!

As I sat there, listening closely and making notes of some of their favourites, my attention became locked on one lonely unique looking bottle at the end of the bar. I thought it might be a Greek gin but when I asked the server about it, she explained that it was Skinos Mastiha, a traditional Greek Spirit made from Mastic.

A bottle of Skinos Mastiha against a black background

Mastic is the resin from the Mastiha pine tree that grows on the Greek island of Chios. The harvest is only slightly similar to maple harvest, as a cut is made through to the bark of the tree and the sap seeps out of it’s own volition. It is not ‘sugared off’ as is the process with maple sap, but allowed to dry in tiny tear-shaped drops. The drops are then distilled along with grain alcohol and then sugar is added to balance it out.

This traditional Greek liqueur, Skinos Mastiha, has a unique flavour profile, most similar to pine but also with a herbal freshness which my husband describes as mint. Finally, there’s a slight hint of earth for the finish. It’s entirely enjoyable on it’s own, but as this is a cocktail post, my job was to find flavour matches for this refreshing spirit. My aim was to highlight both the herbal and earthy nature of the liqueur with the addition of rosemary syrup and tone down the sweetness with some fresh citrus. The combination of rosemary and grapefruit made the latter an easy choice for citrus.

A pot of steeping rosemary

#FBCConnectingOverCocktails food bloggers all across Canada are welcoming Spring with refreshing herb based cocktails. Join them and raise a glass to seasonal rebirth!

A refreshingly different Spring cocktail made with Skinos Mastiha, grapefruit, and rosemary syrup #cocktail #mastic #Greek #beverages

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The Mastical Maia – A Springtime Elixir

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The Mastical Maia – A Springtime Elixir

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  • V
  • VG
  • GF
  • DF
A bright citrus cocktail with a woodsy attitude.
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:5 mins
  • Serves:2
  • Freezable:No

Nutrition per portion

    Ingredients
    • FOR THE ROSEMARY SIMPLE SYRUP
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
    • FOR THE COCKTAIL
    • 2 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
    • 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 oz. rosemary simple syrup
    • 3 oz. Skinos Mastiha Spirit
    • Splash of tonic water (I used Eau Claire Distillery's Original Tonic
    • ice
    • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
    Method
    FOR THE ROSEMARY SIMPLE SYRUP
    1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water.
    2. Heat on med-high until bubbles start to appear, but do not allow the solution to boil.
    3. Turn to low and keep on heat for 5 minutes or until all of the sugar is dissolved.
    4. Remove from heat and add sprigs of rosemary. Allow to steep for an hour. Strain.
    FOR THE COCKTAIL
    1. Add the citrus juices, rosemary syrup, and Mastiha to a cocktail shaker and give them a dry shake.
    2. Add ice and shake until the shaker becomes frosty.
    3. Add ice to preferred glasses and strain shaker contents over ice leaving just enough room for a splash of tonic water.
    4. Add tonic water and garnish with rosemary sprig.

     

     

     

    18 comments

    1. Dawn - Girl Heart Food

      I made a rosemary simple syrup before for a sangria and it was amazing! Such a huge fan of that herb and we even grow it in our garden in the summer. This looks like one delicious drink and perfect for happy hour on Friday 😉 Cheers to ya and have a wonderful weekend!

      Reply

      1. Bernice Hill

        Yes, we do too! I miss my summer herb garden so much right now. This is the first year we haven’t had it in pots…it’s in the garden and I’m kind of hoping some regrows on it’s own. I wish I could have another but the kid ate the last grapefruit. I need to stock up!

        Reply

    2. Terri

      I am in love with Greek food and worked in several Greek restaurants in my youth, as did my husband. I also love to create Greek dishes. But I was saddened to see that the Broken Plate shut down in Ranchlands (NW Calgary)… 🙁 This drink looks delicious, Bernice! I’m in for anything remotely Mediterranean 🙂

      Reply

      1. Bernice Hill

        Well you definitely need to come down south and check out the new menu and refresh, it’s absolutely beautiful! Did they have 3 locations at one time?

        Reply

    3. Justine | JustineCelina.com

      What a beautiful recipe and post, Bernice! I bet the flavours of this cocktail are just dynamite. When did you find the Skinos Mastiha Spirit you used in this recipe? It sounds lovely and I want to track a bottle down! I’ve been a big fan of Broken Plate for years, I’ll have to check out their new menu soon. Cheers to another fun collab!

      Reply

    4. Leanne | Crumb Top Baking

      I love the sound of rosemary simple syrup, and this cocktail looks so refreshing! Perfect for spring!

      Reply

      1. Bernice Hill

        Thank you Leanne, I think it will carry us into Spring and Summer patio season for sure!

        Reply

    5. Evelyne CulturEatz

      Oh I would have been with you in eating the food, and tasting (swallowing) the wine. I love mastic, I have made the classic ice cream years ago, great unique flavor. I know I would love your drink!

      Reply

      1. Bernice Hill

        Ha! Yeah, I should have just cabbed it to the next event!! I do have some mastic in the cupboard for just that reason…waiting for summer to make some mastic ice cream!

        Reply

    6. [email protected] Frau

      That looks like my kind of drink. I love piney and resiny flavours. Great photos!

      Reply

      1. Bernice Hill

        Thank you Margaret. The look of the drink is a bit deceiving…so pink you would expect ‘sweet and fruity’ but that’s not what you get here. We’ll be keeping this one on the cocktail rotation!

        Reply

    7. Dana

      I love your use of rosemary in the simple syrup here. Rosemary is such a fun herb. I usually associate it with warming cold-weather dinners, yet when it comes to sweets or cocktails, I think bright + sunny flavors. Like here! In love. I’d down one of these easily.

      Reply

      1. Bernice Hill

        So true! Rosemary is so versatile and I love it in both applications…savoury and ‘sweet’. Thank you Dana.

        Reply

    8. Jessica

      Cheers to another fun collab Bernice! What a beautiful cocktail and I love the combination of citrus and rosemary! Definitely going to try to find the greek spirit you used for this recipe so I can whip up some of these elixirs very soon!

      Reply

      1. Bernice Hill

        It sure was! I knew it would be a good one for me because I love working with herbs in cocktails. As far as I know there are only two places to get the Skinos. One is Craft Cellars on 32nd Ave NE and the other is Eastport Liquor Store also in the NE.

        Reply

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