The Milky Yellow Trance of Summer
It may just be fond memories of drinking it in the warm summer air of the south of France, but I'll swear that the buzz I get from my beloved, milky yellow Pastis is a different kind, a softer, a richer and fuzzier and more comfortable buzz than I get from drinking any other kind of alcohol.
And I like it.
As someone recently explained to me, "Pastis is something you either like or don't like." And it's so true. My experience is that the majority of people don't take to the anise-flavored, herbal, somewhat bitter drink that will also throw of hints of sweetness. But for me, May through September is Pastis season. I can think of no better beverage to sip when nothing but a long, quiet, warm afternoon and evening looms in front of me.
Pastis is very popular in France and has been since Absinthe was banned in that country in 1915. Absinthe producers got rid of the wormwood, reformulated their recipe and introduced the French to a new kind of drink. Today, the French consume two liters per capita!! And I'd bet half that goes down gullets located between Provence and the Cote d'Azur.
Now, many folks will argue that Pastis should only be served without ice. My preference is to drink it over ice. I like a glass filled half way with small ice cubes, enough pastis poured over the ice so that it reaches the same level as the top of the ice, then finished with varying amounts of water to create a particular strength. I like just enough water to retain the grip of the Pastis and a moderate degree of flavor intensity, but not too strong so as to remove the thirst quenching quality of the drink that recommends it so highly for summer consumption.
What you will usually find in a decent bar is either Ricard or Pernod. These are the two most popular Pastis sold across the globe. However, I do recommend you seek out other more refined examples. The better Pastis will be somewhat less sweet than Ricard and Pernod, somewhat more herbal, but often also more intense with star anise and fennel flavors.
But back to the buzz.
I'm not a drunkard. Never have been. Don't like the feeling of being drunk. Never have. But I can't recommend highly enough that simple, Pastis buzz. I wish I understood it better. I wish I could explain its source. What I can do is recommend you explore it.