Anthonero is an orange flower water, traditionally prepared on the island of Patmos. It is made using three simple ingredients: water, orange flowers, and orange leaves. Anthonero production traditionally starts in spring and lasts about a month. It begins with harvesting the flower buds, which are then distilled.
Two or three baskets of orange flowers are collected, and 30 liters of the island’s local fountain water are added. The leaves are laid on the bottom of the baskets so that the flowers do not rot. Then the liquid is put in the alembic to distil for about 45 hours, and this process is repeated about ten times.
The essential oil, coming from the yellow part of the flowers, is placed in a demijohn so that the flavor becomes more homogeneous; after that it is bottled in beer bottles and sealed with cotton and wax. In this manner, the distillate can last for 4-5 years. In Patmos, anthonero is used to make sweets or is added to beverages like coffee or tea. In the past, it was used for non-gastronomic purposes, for example during religious ceremonies or to produce perfumed water that was applied to the face.
Today, there are only a few people on Patmos who still know how to make anthonero and continue to do so, even in the face of droughts and the depopulation of the island. Droughts in recent years have caused the flower production to drop, so the orange trees on the island produce almost exclusively leaves. Young people often move off the island and do not take the knowledge of anthonero with them, such that the only people who still know the traditional production methods are the elderly.