5 Alternatives to Use When You Don’t Have Ouzo

Want to make a cocktail that calls for ouzo, but don't have any? Don't worry—there are plenty of alternatives you can use in place of this aniseed-flavored liqueur.

Ouzo is a Greek liqueur made with anise, so it tastes like licorice. That means that anything with a similar flavor profile will work as a substitution. Here are some good options:

Pernod

This French aniseed liqueur is probably the closest thing to ouzo out there. It's also made with star anise, so it has a strong anise flavor.

Pastis

This French liqueur is also made with anise, but it's not as strong as ouzo. It's typically diluted with water, which gives it a lighter flavor.

Sambuca

This Italian liqueur is made with anise and elderberry. It has a sweeter flavor than ouzo, so it's not a perfect substitution, but it will work in a pinch.

Arak

This Middle Eastern spirit is made with grapes and anise. It has no added sugar, but does have among the strongest anise flavor of any of the substitutes on this list.

Anise-infused vodka

If you can't find any of these liqueurs, you can also make your own ouzo substitute by mixing vodka with anise seeds or extract. It won't taste exactly the same as the real thing, but it will give you the anise flavor you're looking for.

Just be warned that infusing vodka with seeds will take some time; it's going to need a few days to sit and really soak up the flavor.

What cocktails can you make with ouzo?

Here are some of my favorite cocktails that are typically made with ouzo, but it can be substituted with any of the aforementioned alternatives.

Roaring Greek Tiger

This simple cocktail is perfect for Sunday brunches as a change from your typical mimosas. All you need is some orange juice and ouzo, and perhaps a touch of lime juice to liven things up.

Instead of ouzo, you could also use sambuca – perhaps making it a Roaring Italian Tiger then. Both will give you the unique flavor combination of licorice and orange for biting fruity kick to start your day.

Try this concoction out the next time you host brunch or save it for cocktail hour for a refreshing pre-dinner pick-me-up. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this one!

Tropical Dream

If you are looking for a fun way to spruce up girls’ night, try making the Tropical Dream cocktail. This fun concoction is a bright blue and looks splendid garnished with an orange twist.

Simply mix banana rum coconut rum, blue curacao, and ouzo together and pour into a cocktail glass. If you don’t want to use ouzo, you could substitute it for Italian anise soda syrup.

Throw on your shades and a big sun hat so you can pretend you are on an island vacation. Girls’ night is sure to be a blast with this blue concoction reminiscent of a tropical paradise.

Apollo Cooler

This classic cocktail named after the Greek god of the sun is a beautiful golden color and tastes like you’re drinking the warmth of the sun chilled in a glass. Use a cocktail glass for the best way to serve this drink.

The combination of lemon juice, ouzo, metaxa, and ginger ale served on the rocks and garnished with a slice of lemon is the most stunningly simple flavor your taste buds will ever know. If you’re out of ouzo, simply replace it with anise-infused vodka.

This bright cocktail is perfect for cocktail hour or big celebrations such as engagement parties or weddings. It offers a universal flavor that everyone is sure to love.

Greek Salad

If you’re looking for a cocktail akin to a Bloody Mary but with a different taste, try the Greek Salad. Its bold vegetable flavors are complemented by the anise-flavored alcohol to create a surprisingly great taste that will make you feel like drinking lunch.

This drink combines cucumber juice, tomato juice, and ouzo, spiced with salt and white pepper, and garnished with olives and feta cheese. If you like the idea of liquid lunch but aren’t crazy that it’s alcoholic, you can make a virgin version by replacing the ouzo with some non-alcoholic Italian anise soda syrup.

This new way to get your leafy greens without the actual leafy greens is a wonderful concoction for brunch or just a great way to try something new.

Ouzo Lemonade

The Ouzo Lemonade is the perfect cocktail to serve at your summer barbecue for a fun twist on a popular hot weather drink. The perfect thing about this concoction is that it can also be made sans alcohol so those who don’t or can’t partake can enjoy it too.

A simple mixture of lemon juice, honey, water, ouzo, and mint leaves for garnish are all it takes to make this brilliant drink. To make it non-alcoholic, simply swap the ouzo for Italian anise soda syrup.

Nothing says summer like lemonade – and adding a little bit of a twist to a summer standard will make your hot weather party a sizzling sensation.

Ouzo Cherry Twister

If you love anything cherry, the Ouzo Cherry Twister is perfect for you! This simple concoction mixes the tart taste of cherries with the unique bite of anise in a splendid way.

Simply mix vodka, ouzo, and cherry juice together and serve on the rocks. For extra cherry-ness, you can garnish your drink with maraschino cherries.

If you want to substitute for the ouzo, use anise-infused vodka or sambuca instead. This cocktail is a perfect Valentine’s Day treat for a special someone.

Final thoughts

So there you have it—five alternatives to use when you don't have ouzo on hand, plus some delicious recipes to try them in.

Ouzo may be a traditional Greek liquor, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun with other anise-flavored spirits.

With these substitutions, you'll be able to make all your favorite ouzo-based cocktails without any problem. So go ahead and experiment. Cheers!