Everything You Need To Know About Pastis

Photo: Courtesy of Need Supply Co.

This piece originally appeared on NeedSupply.com.

For all its idyllic fields of flowers, lavender cookies and Cézanne and Van Gogh scenes come to life, Provence can be an oppressively hot place. Humidity in summertime regularly peaks at just below drowning and the Provençal smartly choose not to hermetically seal themselves inside A/C, but there are nonetheless some excellent ways to beat the heat. Chief among them is passing time in cafés, in the shade of stately old trees with an icy glass of pastis.


In France, there are several brands on the market but only the original Ricard and slightly later Pernod are synonymous with the drink around the world and have a rather interesting interlocking history. They’re also now produced by the same company, Pernod Ricard, which succeeded an older company, Pernod Fils, a major producer of genuine old world absinthe before it was first banned.


Pastis is generally served over ice: when it interacts with water, oils in the drink derived from its anise become cloudy and make for a distinctive milkiness (read up on terpenes for the chemical backstory). The drink is then generally diluted with more iced water at the drinker’s preference. 1:1 makes for a more concentrated refreshment and is sure to get you nice and bourré realquick. Add more water for a slower burn.

Though their recipes are similar, Pernod and Ricard are dramatically different in profile. Pernod is a dramatic almost neon yellow. It looks mysterious and almost nefarious, though its cloudiness upon pouring is less dramatic as it quickly shifts from clear yellow-green to chalky highlighter yellow. It works well in cocktails like the Sazerac, in which it can nicely stand in for for absinthe.


Thanks again to Can Can Brasserie.

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