Zivania: The Firewater from Cyprus

January 25, 2024

Zivania, with the nickname ‘firewater’ is a colourless, strong spirit with an alcohol content of 45% by volume. It’s a kind of pomace brandy (distilled spirit made from the skin, pulp, stem and seeds of used grape) native to Cyprus. The name comes from the word, ‘zivana’ that refers to ‘pomace’ in the Greek dialect of Cyprus. The remaining parts of the grape, after wine making, is collected and combined with good quality dry wines made from Xynisteri and Mavro, local grape varieties of Cyprus. It’s further distilled in pot still during autumn season to produce Zivania. This alcohol has no sugar or acidity and has the aroma of raisins. Zivania symbolizes hospitality and is widely associated with celebrations as well as social gatherings in Cyprus. It’s towards the end of the 15th century, during the reign of the Republic of Venice, that the drink was first produced. Due to its qualities being comparable to those of grape vodka, experts sometimes compare this liquor to vodka.

How is Zivania made?

The initial production process of ‘firewater’ is similar to that of wine making. The wine is separated and pomace is subjected to the pot distillation process. The first distillate that has high level of alcohol content undergoes a second distillation process to remove maximum impurities. Further, zivania is diluted with water based on the desired final alcohol content and bottled. Few manufacturers age this distilled spirit in French oak barrels for a period ranging from three to eight years.


The manufacturing and labeling of Zivania are subject to laws, just like many other traditional spirits. The purpose of these rules is to preserve the beverage's quality and authenticity. Zivania's distinctive link to the particular geographic area of Cyprus has been recognized by the European Union, which has awarded it Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) designation. The law clearly indicates that zivania should not contain more than 60% ABV.

Health benefits

As per the traditional beliefs of the Cypriots, this liquor can boost one’s immunity and improve memory. Zivania is also used as a medicine for colds, toothaches, and wounds. Few use it for massaging and are consumed as a warm drink during the winter season.

Service standards

Zivania is served neat, well chilled in shot glass. It goes well with all sorts of appetizers, soutzouko, tsamarella, cold cuts of meat, cheese platter, dried nuts etc. During summer season, ice and Zivania works great. Lime juice and Zivania is a good combination and Bozi is a Zivania based cocktail from Cyprus. Zivania Zivana LOEL and Zivania KEO are popular brands.




By Varghese Johnson
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