Friday, 25 April 2008

Bordeaux Aperitifs – Pastis – Pernod and Ricard

Pastis is an anise flavoured apéritif from France and is usually about 40% proof. Pastis is normally diluted with water before drinking (generally 5 parts water for 1 part of pastis). The resulting decrease in alcohol percentage causes some of the constituents to become insoluble, which changes the liqueur's appearance from dark transparent yellow to milky soft yellow. The drink is consumed cold, with ice, and is considered a refreshment for hot days. Ice cubes can be added after the water to avoid crystallization of the anethol in the pastis. However, many pastis drinkers refuse to add ice, preferring to drink the beverage with cool spring water.

Although it is consumed throughout France, especially in the summer, pastis is generally associated with southeastern France, especially with the city of Marseille, and with the cliches of the Provencal lifestyle, like petanque (boules). You may have come across some of the well known cocktails which use pastis and syrups:

The perroquet (parrot) with green mint syrup
The tomate (tomato) with greandine syrup
The mauresque (moorish) with orgeat syrup

Pernod is an aniseed based drink and it is claimed that it was prescribed 7000 years ago in the Book of Genesis as a remedy for plague and cholera. For centuries after this various aniseed concoctions were used to cure everything from toothache to digestive problems.

At the end of the 18th century a Major Dubied began distilling the elixir professionally. In 1805 his son-in-law, Henri-Louis Pernod opened a distillery in France where Pernod would later become known as the national beverage. When Absinthe was banned in France in 1915, the major absinthe producers (then Pernod Fils and Ricard, who have since merged as Pernod Ricard) reformulated their drink without the banned wormwood component. To replace the wormwood they used more star anise, sugar and a lower alcohol content creating pastis, which remains popular in France today.

Images Courtesy of www.flickr.com

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