A colourless spirit distilled from grapes that have been previously pressed for winemaking and then fermented.
It is one of the old folk medicines of Cyprus (together with olives, ground coffee and donkey dung) and can be used internally or externally. (The zivania - internal use of donkey dung is to be discouraged)
If you are offered zivania, remember the following;
1. True home-distilled zivania is illegal, but no one cares. Even the ex-president of the republic is said to drink it and good for him..
2. It should be crystal clear with no whitish deposit in the bottom of the bottle. This, if present, is lead oxide and highly toxic.
3. This drink should be downed in a single gulp in order to avoid it dissolving the enamel on your teeth.
It is interesting to note that fragile-looking yehri (pl.)will down a glass or five with a companionable smile and a flick of the wrist while their grandchildren, however, say it is too strong and use it to clean their aftokinito windscreens.
Since going to press originally, zivania has become something of a mangoscini and official brands in various flavours are available legally and over the counter.
The monastery of Kykkos makes a rose-flavoured zivania apéritif that many highly recommend bar for the fact that it makes ones windscreen sticky.