My Favorite Vice
I can safely say, after great amounts of experience, that after a fine dry rose, Pastis taken on the rocks is the greatest beverage ever invented by man or Gaul.
For those sorry souls not familiar with this Drink of Provence, it is a licorice flavored spirit produced with star anise and a number of herbs. One usually mixes it with water. It can be taken on the rocks or straight up. I like to mix it this way: 1 part pastis, 4 parts water. The flavor can be madly a madly intense blend of rich, deeply intense licorice with hints of clove, lavender, and sweet herbs. It is one of the great refreshers too. There is very little that can compare with sipping on a pastis on a late summer afternoon when the heat is just beginning to dim. The drink washes over your palate like an adult sorbet, taking with it any remnant of despair or fatigue the day may have left with you.
The most common brands are Pernod and Ricard, both owned by the same company. But you can find other, Micro-pastis that tend to be of higher quality. Then there are the courser renditions from other countries such as the famed Ouzo from Greece.
While Pernod and Ricard are the most popular Pastis, there are a number of boutique producers who cater to the obsessed. Absinthe24.Net is an on-line store that specializes in Pastis
Pastis was developed in Marseilles around 1914 after the French government banned Absinthe, that notorious drink also with a licorice flavor, but with wormwood too. The wormwood gave absinthe a, well, apparently a narcotic like affect to the drink. Needless to say it was popular. Yet, it was banned, but the French southerners need a replacement that had that same cleansing, refreshing quality. Born was Pastis.
It is only fair to warn the Pastis novices that a certain enthusiasm for the drink can overtake you, especially on those languid afternoons. Basically, the drink will take the helm and you can find yourself in one of the most comfortable stupors you’ve ever experienced. However, take note. A Pastis stupor can be quite overwhelming. Sipping is recommended.
So on the occasion of Bastille Day, make a note: Sip Pastis in the shade.