This is a drink I was put on earth to covet – French pastis.
Now, as the UK heatwave protracts, I’m drinking this – one of my most favourite drinks – a lot. I adore the fact you don’t need mixers for this. You just need cold water (from the tap!) and preferably ice (I don’t even have that, but it’s still divine).
Les Anglais hardly drink this. The British just have no clue. It’s terribly French, terribly Continental. That is not why I drink it. I’m the son of Francophiles who’ve been drinking this for generations. Such things rub off.
For those who haven’t had it, it’s a 45% premium French spirit that is a combination of liquorice and aniseed. Please. Don’t give me the philistinic excuse that you “don’t like ouzo or pernot”. Neither do I. Both are vile.
This, however, is divinity incarnate. Especially in high summer.
Pastis is normally diluted with water before drinking, generally five volumes of water for one volume of pastis, but often raw pastis is served together with a jug of water for the drinker to blend together according to preference. 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, a phenomenon also present with absinthe. 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 anethole 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 where it is nicknamed Pastaga, and with the clichés of the Provençal lifestyle, like pétanque. Pastis is also consumed in Senegal.
Pastis is probably one of the most popular beverages in France where 130 million liters are sold each year (more than 2 liters per inhabitant).