Dear readers; I am Vaggelis, the fiancé of Katerina’s daughter Dora. Dora and I run the Odyssey Bistro, where I often make cocktails for the customers. Something I really enjoy doing! My lovely “almost” mother-in-law asked me to share my recipe for a very special one: The Red Orange Blossom Cocktail.
First a little history about me: I am 25 years old and born in Albania. Shortly after my birth my parents moved to Poros where I was raised and that I still call home. I realize that maybe my name Vaggelis isn’t the easiest name for non-Greeks, but can’t change anything about that. I do however respond to other names, since guests love giving me nicknames that are easy to remember. Over the past 5 years I have had a lot!
Working at Odyssey
I have been working at Odyssey for the past 5 seasons, during 3 of which Katerina was my boss. In 2018 Dora and I took over the management of the Odyssey Bistro, but I think I will always see Katerina as my boss. Anybody that knows Katerina will agree that she is the most amazing, warm person, larger than life and with a big love for life and food. At the same time even though I am 2 heads taller than her, she is the most frightening boss I have ever had. I mean that in the best possible way of course; Katerina has a huge passion for what she does and nothing less than her standards are acceptable. So maybe the most frightening, but also the boss I have learned the most from and whom I look up to the most. We still have a lot to learn about running the bistro and knowing that Katerina is there makes all the difference.
Photo: Toni Brown
Meeting my fiancé
Now I am sure you would all like to know how I met my fiancé Dora, and no, it was not at Odyssey. If Dora told the story, she would probably do it better, with more detail and explanation, but as a guy I am not great at this so I will do my best. In 2009 I was 15 years old and getting ready for the summer. One day I drove past Odyssey and saw Dora for the first time. She wore a white summer dress and I remember thinking, she is really pretty. I knew I liked her, but being so young and shy I did not know what to do. I kept driving past Odyssey in the hope of seeing her and being noticed. Somedays I would drive by 10 times!
I was very happy when Dora eventually did look back, but in the end I realized that my technique was not working because I was too shy to stop and talk to her. One day I saw her when she was out with a friend who happened to be my classmate, and I finally got her number through this friend. We had a great summer together but sadly Dora was still living in the Netherlands so we had to say goodbye at the end of the summer. Luckily though we found each other again and are now happily engaged!
Red orange blossom cocktail
In my first year working at Odyssey they let me experiment with alcohol and combining flavours, basically making cocktails. It was the first place where I could. One day a lovely guest from America stayed at Odyssey. Every afternoon he came down and asked me for a cocktail of my own making. At this point I only knew how to make a couple of basic cocktails, so his faith in my skills felt amazing! He stayed for 2 weeks, and we created a numerous number of cocktails together. One cocktail was his favourite, and I therefor let him name it. Just having returned from our olive farm in Galatas were he had seen our orange trees in bloom, he named it the Red Orange Blossom cocktail!
The Red Orange Blossom cocktail is usually served in a tall glass. Coming up with the ingredients wasn’t hard. The American guest and I bonded over both liking vodka, so when I thought about combinations, I chose vodka as a base and added our Greek local vodka: ouzo! The aniseed of the ouzo can sometimes overpower other tastes, something I wanted to prevent. When I saw some organic oranges from our olive farm in the kitchen I realized I found a solution for that! To dilute it a little and not make it too heavy I added club soda. The grenadine syrup is mostly for show but also adds a nice sweetness. After making this cocktail a couple of times I decided to perfect it by adding some fresh mint from our garden and some orange slices. Both enrich the flavour of the cocktail, that is fresh yet sweet, with an aftertaste of aniseed, and make it look even nicer.
I will share more of my cocktail recipes on Katerina’s Kouzina, so keep your eye on the blog! I hope you enjoy my Red Orange Blossom!
Food Photography: Annette Spaan
Do you want to cook with Katerina at Odyssey?
Click here for more information!