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One of the Summer traditions I cherish when traveling in Provence – and there are many – is the afternoon habit of stopping in the corner bar, superette, or café to enjoy a glass of Pastis liqueur. It’s just one of those things you do, like having Le Grande Aioli or a bottle of well-chilled Provencal rosé.

But so often, the Pastis you find is from one of the big producers – the brands Pernod and Ricard immediately come to mind. There are other, smaller producers out there who make delightful Pastis, as well, including my new sip for Summer 2022: Henri Bardouin Le Pastis Grand Cru from Distilleries et Domaines de Provence (founded in 1898) in the commune of Forcalquier, which lies north of Aix en Provence, a short-ish drive up the A51.

The beginning of the production of Pastis in Provence started around 1920, right after Absinthe was banned. Under the pressure from distillers, the law authorized aperitifs with anise on the condition that they did not contain wormwood (the controversial ingredient that got absinthe banned), that they were not green, and that the alcohol did not exceed 30°. It soon became a very popular drink to have before dinner. Pastis liqueur is traditionally made using a number of herbs and spices (each distiller’s recipe varies slightly).

In 1946, Henri Bardouin, whose pastis had been already distributed in local bars for decades, decided to elaborate a more complex recipe, using the multiple local herbs growing in Upper Provence. This meant going back to the very ancient recipes of pastis, when botanists were incorporating up to a hundred herbs in a single beverage.

Pastis means, in fact, “mixture” in the Provençal dialect and it is exactly what he wanted to create: a genuine crossbreeding of flavors. Henri Bardouin Pastis is made from a blend of 65 plants, such as Star Anise, Cardamom, Black & White Pepper, Nutmeg and Sage, among others.

One of the things that intrigues me, is that Pastis is clear in the bottle and shows no color, but when it’s mixed with water and poured over ice it turns a milky white hue. The other thing that intrigues me is this aromatic liqueur’s delightfully refreshing taste of licorice and complex herbal notes.

Tradition dictates 1 part Pastis to 7 parts water. I like mine a little closer to 50/50. So grab a glass and some ice,  pour your self an aperitif of Henri Bardouin Pastis and enjoy. If you close your eyes, you, also, may be transported to that little café in La Motte d’Aigues where I fell in love with this enchanting spirit.

Henri Bardouin Pastis Liqueur (ABV: 45%, SRP: $30) also makes a delicious cocktail.

The Pink Henry by Julien Masson of The Mama Shelter in Marseille

Ingredients:

1 oz Pastis Henri Bardouin

.5 oz Lemon juice

.25 oz Cane sugar syrup

1 oz Strawberry nectar

Cranberry juice

Method:

Add the lemon juice, the cane sugar syrup, the strawberry nectar and the Pastis Henri Bardouin in the glass, then top off with the cranberry juice. Mix with a spoon and add 3 ice cubes. Garnish with some cranberry or strawberry. Stir and enjoy

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