I recently paid a visit to STEREO, tucked away under Covent Garden Market with a couple of friends to try Axia, which is a new first of its kind extra dry and refreshing mastiha spirit that is a unique addition to the white spirits category.
Pronounced “Mas – teek – ah”, Axia is a premium spirit that is distilled from the aromic resin of the Mastiha or mastic tree, that can be found on the Greek island of Chios.
For generations, the resin from the mastic tree has been harvested once a year, with one mastic tree being able to produce resin for over 70 years. The sap is milked and left to dry in the wind, forming crystals which are then blended with alcohol and twice distilled in a process that fuses traditional distillation in hand-crafted copper stills to produce a premium, extra dry and unsweetened white spirit.
It is a versatile spirit that has been created by Master Distiller Maroussa Tschaki’s cutting-edge science. With 30% less calories per serve than Vodka, it has a crisp, resinous flavour of Mediterranean cypress with notes of rose, citrus and bergamot. I rather like Axia served neat, but it can also be served on the rocks or in many popular cocktails, making it ideal for an alternative refreshing summer cocktail and tonic serve.
I particularly like the creative packaging, with both the name and bottle paying homage to the spirit’s past traditions. In Greek Axia means ‘value’ or ‘worth’ and the coiled snake around the bottle is a nod to Snake Island in Chios where the mastic crystals are harvested.
So, what’s the best way to enjoy Axia?
Well, we met with Giannis Miliotis, who flew over from Athens and is Axia’s Global Brand Ambassador, and he introduced us to four specially prepared cocktails for the evening.
The first was ‘Dominoes’ which is a mix of Axia Extra Dry Mastiha Spirit, Seaweed Gin, Tonic Wine, Pandan and Suze.
The second cocktail ‘Honky Tonk’, is a made with Axia Extra Dry Mastiha Spirit, Mezcal, Granny Smith Apple and topped with Champagne.
Next was ‘Loopzilla’, which is a combination of Axia Extra Dry Mastiha Spirit, Hibiscus Cordial, Cacao, Chipode and Soda Water.
Lastly, we tried ‘School Boy Crush’ which is made with Axia Extra Dry Mastiha Spirit, Aquavit, Celery Juice and Lemon.
As well as the four cocktails above, Axia is the ideal serve with some classic cocktails such as an ‘Axia & Tonic’. All you need is 50ml Axia and 150ml Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic. Then simply pour Axia into a chilled tall glass, add a few ice cubes, top with some tonic and stir and then garnish with a rosemary leaf and slice of orange.
Then there is the ‘Axia Mastiha Margarita’, which is a mix of 45ml Axia, 25ml Dry Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, 7.5ml Agave and 22.5ml of fresh lime juice. Cover the tumbler rim with some salt before mixing all the ingredients in a shaker, give it a good shake and pour the contents over ice for the perfect Margarita.
Lastly, you might like to try the ‘Axia Greek Paloma’ which is made with 50ml Axia, 150ml Pink Grapefruit Soda and Lime. Simply pour Axia into a chilled tall glass, add some ice cubes and top with pink grapefruit soda and a squeeze of lime juice before garnishing it with a slice of lime for a perfect refreshing summer cocktail.
On a separate note, I would also recommend visiting STEREO, which is a fun basement cocktail bar with live music, inspired by the vibrant late-night New York and London culture. It’s the perfect place to pop into for a pre-theatre or dinner aperitif or after dinner dance.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a former member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Axia