Take the Plunge Into The Fuzzy Buzz
I still can't understand why the various folks who make that delicious, delusion-inducing, summertime delight known as pastis still have not hired me to help widen the embrace of their milky-yellow drink? Is there a greater advocate for its use and enjoyment than I?
With that pitch for new business out of the way, please allow me to give 10 tips and hints and thoughts for those considering taking the summertime plunge into Pastis.
1. WHAT IS IT? Pastis is an anise-flavored liqueur that is favored primarily in the Mediterranean countries
2. A VARIETY OF BRANDS. The most famous brands of Pastis found in America are Ricard and Pernod, both of which tend to be on the slightly sweeter side than the lesser know brands. If you are new to Pastis, start with Ricard. Then look for some more obscure brands at your favorite taverns and notice the differences. Some will be less sweet, some more herbal, the variation can be endless.
3. MIXING A PASTIS. While unfortunate, in many bars you will have to tell the person fixing the drinks how to fix a pastis. Luckily, the instructions are fairly simple: A). Pour an ounce and a half to two ounces of pastis into a tall glass. B) From a carafe, pour water into the pastis creating a one-to-five or so ration of pastis to water. C) drop medium sized ice cubes into the concoction until sufficiently cooled.
4. IT'S POTENT. Be prepared for a drink that is fairly strong. Most Pastis will work out to be about 90 Proof.
5. VISUALLY INTERESTING. Don't be alarmed by the visual transformation that occurs when you create your pastis by combining the liqueur with water. The transformation from an amber liquid when alone to a milky, opaque yellow/green is what's suppose to happen.
6. PASTIS AS CONVERSATION STARTER. Because relatively few people drink pastis, it can be an excellent conversation starter in a bar. I can not tell you how many folks here in the states have asked me, "What is that you are drinking" when they notice my pastis.
7. THE FUZZY BUZZ. Be prepared for a different kind of buzz. I have no proof, but my somewhat extensive experience drinking pastis during the summer and fall months convince me that the buzz one gets from drinking pastis is altogether different than the buzz one gets from drinking any other kind of alcohol. Be prepared for a somewhat more "fuzzy" buzz.
8. WHEN TO DRINK. Traditionally, drinking pastis comes in the late afternoon after the heat has reached its peak and a descent into a cooling trend has begun. No matter when you drink Pastis, do so in the shade. I've found the drink and its effects do not respond well to direct sunlight. And I have to agree that starting in on Pastis sometime around 4:00pm or 5:00pm and taking it on up to 8pm is probably the optimum timing.
9. FOR TRENDSETTERS. For those interested in being ahead of the trend curves, pastis drinking might be for you. While the French drink upwards of 173 million bottles of the stuff annually, only a very tiny percentage of that is consumed here in America. And yet, eventually, French customs are bound to become trends here in America. I expect the same will happen one day with Pastis. Some event in the pop culture world will shine the light on Pastis and all of a sudden it will become trendy. Pick up the summer habit of drinking it now and you can say you were will ahead of the trend curve.
10. LEARN MORE. For those needing to learn a little more before jumping into a Pastis-drinking spree, I recommend this little guide to the drink.