What? An anise flavoured spirit which is flavoured with liquorice root and sweetened with sugar. Pastis is one of the favourite aperitifs in France, particularly in the south of the country where in any local bar you walk into you find some local gentlemen putting the world to rights while sipping on this strange yellow liquid. There are two types of pastis; Pastise Anise (such as Pernod) and Pastis de Marseille (Ricard) - the former must be bottled at a minimum 40% ABV and the latter a minimum of 45% ABV.
Where? France. Although similar drinks are produced throught Europe, particularly the Meditterranian Countries, pastis is very much a French phenomenon. Most pastis production is centred in the Provence region in the south of France.
When? After the ban of absinthe production in 1915 some traditional absinthe producers started making a similar type of drink without the inclusion of wormwood - the ingredient thought to poison the brain. It wasn't until 1932 when a young 23 year old called Paul Ricard perfected the recipe for his new aperitif and managed to convince the public that anise flavoured aperitifs were safe and acceptable again.
How? Traditionally drunk as an aperitif and it is suggested that it is drunk as one part pastis to 5 parts iced water, this ratio however is up to you. The pastis should always be poured into the glass first with the water added after. Watch the liquid turn from clear to milky yellow (or green if it's Pernod) in an instant.
Where To Start? Decide whether you want to try a Pastis Anise (Pernod) or the slightly stronger Pastis de Marseille (Ricard). You can start with these popular brands or try Henri Bardouin Pastis 10cl, a wee bottle to dip you toe in and see if you like it.