Pastis de Provence: the revival of the anise aperitif
Five bottles of pastis to try
1. Henri Bardouin
With its round flavor, this Provencal brand is an excellent starting point. Created in the rocky hills of Haute-Provence, it is made from 65 herbs and spices.
2. Combier Pastis d’Antan
This old-fashioned pastis from the Loire Valley has a strong flavor of anise, alongside cardamom, cloves and nutmeg.
3. Ty Yellow
It is not only Provence that is benefiting from the resurgence of artisanal pastis. This Breton brand uses marine plants to add lightness to its flavor.
4. Argala Pastis
The Italian Argala distillery in Boves (near the French border) offers a version with deep amber hues. Whiskey drinkers will appreciate its more earthy notes.
5. Cornish pastis
Created by Tarquin’s Gin, the UK’s first pastis is created with gorse flowers picked on the Cornish coast. The result is a fresh, lemony flavor.
Where to taste pastis in Provence
1. LimiÃ±ana Crystal
One of the few remaining Marseilles distilleries, this family business, which dates back to 1884, creates pastis and anisette, a simpler version that also turns white with the addition of water. It also manufactures and stores non-alcoholic aniseed drinks and other spirits.
2. Liquoristerie de Provence
The Taradeau-en-Provence region is known for its wines, and this distillery belongs to the ChÃ¢teau de Saint Martin vineyard. Visit the on-site shop for tastings of the various pastis made here (including Le P’tit Bleu), as well as a wide range of herbal and fruit liqueurs.
With cocktail bars in Marseille and Paris, CopperBay has partnered with the Distillerie de la Plaine to make its own pastis. The company also creates cocktails around the spirit.
Five pastis cocktails to make
1. The Moorish
The sweetness of almond syrup tempers the anise touch of this popular pastis cocktail. To prepare it, mix 20 ml of Pastis Henri Bardouin with 10 ml of barley syrup (try Monin), 20 ml of lime juice and 10 ml of plain water. The name translates to “Moorish”.
If anise isn’t refreshing enough for you, try this mint concoction. Difford’s guide recommends making it with 30ml of pastis and 7.5ml of mint syrup (Monin) with ice water to taste.
3. Sour whiskey pastis
Combine 50 ml of Dewar’s Old Scotch Whiskey with 10 ml of Ricard pastis, 25 ml of lemon juice, 12.5 ml of cane sugar syrup, 15 ml of pasteurized egg white and three dashes of bitter aromatic Angostura and shake with ice. Pour into a jug, then return to the shaker to shake (this time without ice), before filtering it finely into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice.
4. Yellow lemon ricard
Created by Guillaume Ferroni (now from Maison Ferroni), this refreshing cocktail combines 20 ml of Ricard pastis, 10 ml of barley syrup, 20 ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 160 ml of ice water. Garnish with fresh mint and a lemon wedge.
Strawberry works great with anise, so mix 10ml of strawberry syrup with 40ml of pastis and top up with ice water.
Eurostar trains connect London St Pancras to Marseille, changing in Paris or Lille. Airlines to Marseille from the UK include British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair.
How to do
Base in Marseille, then head east via Aubagne (for Maison Ferroni) and Bandol to visit Bendor Island. Kirker Travel offers a three-day Marseille package with flights and transfers, staying at the InterContinental hotel from Â£ 1,138 per person.
Published in Issue 11 (Spring 2021) of National Geographic Traveler Food
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