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eje

Pastis vs. Absinthe

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I often see assertations that Pastis wasn't invented until after Absinthe was banned. For example, in this article featuring aperitifs in today's Chronicle.

According to Georgeanne Brennan, a Chronicle contributor and author of "Aperitif: Recipes for Simple Pleasures in the French Style" (Chronicle Books, 1997), pastis, Pernod and other anise-scented aperitifs were developed to replace absinthe, a similarly flavored beverage banned in France after 1915 because of its alleged deleterious effects. Several manufacturers stepped in to fill the void with beverages that did not contain the suspect wormwood but had the characteristic licorice taste. Pernod Fils, a producer of absinthe, created its own replacement, known today simply as Pernod.

Is this really correct?

As far as I can tell, it is true that Msrs. Pernod and Ricard did not go into the pastis business until after Absinthe was banned.

However, it is my understanding that true Absinthe is a flavored distilled spirit more like gin, than a liqueur like Pastis.

Certainly, mediteranean anis seed flavored liquors like Arak pre-date the "invention" of Absinthe, which is attributed to Dr. Pierre Ordinaire in 1797. There are also several herbaceous elixirs, like Chartruese and Benedictine, which pre-date the invention of Absinthe.

Did Pernod and Ricard really invent Pastis? Or were they just the first to market it as an Absinthe substitute to a public hungry for the now illegal green faerie?

fixed broken url


Edited by eje (log)

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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Pernod was an Absinthe producer until it was banned in France, then began making a wormwood-free version around 1926. Paul Ricard began producing "pastis" about 10 years later in Marseilles.


Marcovaldo Dionysos

Cocktail Geek

cocktailgeek@yahoo.com

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I believe that pastis was "invented" by Pernod and Ricard as a replacement for absinthe after the ban.

Not sure I'd call pastis a liqueur, per se. I don't think it's sweet enough.

Edited: I see I cross-posted with Marco. What he said.

The absinthe ban went into effect in something like 1915. Why do we suppose it took Pernod an additional 11 years to start making pastis? I'd think they'd have gone over to pastis right away.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Why do we suppose it took Pernod an additional 11 years to start making pastis?  I'd think they'd have gone over to pastis right away.

They had to go through the five stages of grief first.

Or wait for the hangover to end.


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ID

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They had to go through the five stages of grief...

Or maybe all the cases of absinthe they could no longer sell legally.


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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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i was even under the impression that pernod got a heads up from the french govt (didn't want to lose out on all that tax) about the ban so surprised about the time lag.

think that anis flavoured spirits have to be about the most popular in the med basin, every country seems to have there own version, raki, ouzu, sambuca etc etc etc so i'm sure that these do pre-date those brands.

however i suspect that the style of drink came to prominance (ie water and absinthe ah la absinthe drip) during the absinthe years, so that when the absinthe was suppressed people wanted to drink a similar style of drink (ie switching from boston bobs finest homemade vodka and tonics to stoli and tonics cause he went out of production) and when the larger brands with the advertising hit the ground everyone started drinking them instead.

pastis itself refers almost to a way of drinking these products vs an actual brand, although there is a 'pastis' brand, ie i often drink absinthe pastis in summer which is effectively an absinthe drip.

pernod itself was allegedly also one of the earlier absinthe brands (depending on how much marketing you believe)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/187398294...=books&v=glance

is a great book for more info


'the trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass'

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Pernod was originally an Absinthe producer. After it was banned in France they set up the production of Absinthe and Pastis (I have read that the name "Pastis" is derived from "pastiche"= "copy, replica") Pernod in Spain. I have a poster (copy) of an older Pernod Pastis advert, It has a picture of a green faery and the phrase (in French) "Bring alive the Green Faery". I assume that they were trying to recreate some of the hype surrounding their banned Absinthe.

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Looking at older recipes, I see they usually call for anisette and/or absinthe.

I haven't tried anisette; but, my understanding is it is a fairly simple sweet anise flavored liqueur.

Absinthe, as I understand it, is a complex herbal liquor.

Seems like what we ended up with is a spectrum of products, some of which ended up closer to anisette, and some of which ended up closer to the original absinthe.

Pernod and Ricard, to me, are fairly sweet, and not particularly herbaceously complex.

Another "pastis" I've tried, from Henri Barduoin, is much drier and an order of magnitude more complex.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Henri Barduoin is my pastis of choice.


Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Henri Barduoin is my pastis of choice.

I will make a note of that; and look out for it this summer when in France.

Thanks.


Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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Henri Barduoin is my pastis of choice.

:biggrin:

I know! It was your recommendation here on eGullet, which encouraged me to try some.

Amazing stuff!


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Looking at older recipes, I see they usually call for anisette and/or absinthe.

I haven't tried anisette; but, my understanding is it is a fairly simple sweet anise flavored liqueur.

Absinthe, as I understand it, is a complex herbal liquor.

Seems like what we ended up with is a spectrum of products, some of which ended up closer to anisette, and some of which ended up closer to the original absinthe.

Pernod and Ricard, to me, are fairly sweet, and not particularly herbaceously complex.

Another "pastis" I've tried, from Henri Barduoin, is much drier and an order of magnitude more complex.

I suspect that pre-ban Absinthe had a great deal of variation in flavour from producer to producer. I drank a few of different styles of absinthe in Vienna last weekend (with the whole perforated spoon, sugar cube stage show) and although all the brands tried were 'authentic'etc, there was a lot of variation in flavour, colour and cloudy v clear with water addition. Vermouth was another wormwood based booze (the name is a clue), but it has many styles.

To be honest for herbal wormwood flavour I would by a good bottle of Genepi which is made from an alpine wormwood that lacks that psychoactive element, but has a good distinctive flavour of wormwood.

I like pastis, it is great with cream and mussels, not sure if this is true of absinthe.

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Last night someone gave me a sample of the Henri Barduoin pastis. I will be getting a bottle and will not be using any other pastis. It is absolutely terrific. Much more subtle and complex than other brands, with an anis presence that is assertive without being cloying. I think I even prefer it to the absinthe I've managed to find. My first thought was, "I can't wait to try this in a Sazerac."

-Mike

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My understanding is that the Genepy also contains high levels of thujone.

There are quite a few wonderful Pastis that have not made it to the US, so if you've enjoyed the Barduoin, keep exploring. There are also a few Italian variations that are exceptional and well worth seeking. I'll check my files for the names and post.

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Has anyone tried the Charbay Pastis?

Tasting notes? Comparisons? Worth the price?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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This oldish post caught my eye, but none of the responses discuss the differece in taste and use of pastis vs absinthe. I'm loathe to spring for a bottle of absinthe to make a cocktail that calls for it, unless the drink would be much better with the real McCoy. What do other people think?

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I'm far from being an expert, but my impression is absinthe is a far more complex beast. My (limited) pastis experience isn't really memorable; certainly there's the aniseed, but quite light and thin. Absinthe, not to put too fine a point on it, has guts.

As to using one as a substitute for the other ... the Mixology app I have on my phone introduced me last week to something called a 3G - gin, St Germaine (elderflower) and Domaine de Canton (ginger; the third G). The instructions were first to rinse the glasses with Ricard, which I understand to be a pastis. Lacking this, we used absinthe. Beautiful!


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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Haven't tried pastis but absinthe is good. :) I tasted a couple of shots when a friend bought home a bottle from a different country.

For those who tasted both, what do you prefer?

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I'm not convinced there are any real clear-cut distinctions, except that pastis is sweeter and, of course, lacks any grand wormwood. To my palate, Henri Bardouin pastis is probably more aromatically interesting than Kubler absinthe. As far as rinses go, you're fine using either - the important thing is to use a good-quality product. When you start getting into measured amounts (in, say, the French Pearl), you may have to change the sugar balance to compensate one way or the other.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Beside Henri Bardouin, I'd recommend La Muse Verte Le Pastis d'Autrefois which has the advantage of being dry like absinthe (you can add sugar to taste) besides being well crafted.

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Thanks for the recommendations! I bought a bottle of Ricard a couple years ago and have only used a fifth of it because most cocktail recipes call for so little. I'm thinking that when dealing with dashes, they will all be about the same. Eventualy I will chase the green ferry, but I might try Henri Baruoin or La Muse Verte first, if I can find them.

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