The French Pâté Collection Perfect for a cocktail party or appetizers at a family feast, this trio is a perennial favorite and makes a lovely hostess gift.
Dry-Cured Saucisson SecServe saucisson sec with charcuterie for an ideal and easy party starter.
Pastis is an anise-based liqueur as beloved in France as Bastille Day, or a game of pétanque on a summer’s day. Nationally, its popularity as a drink is second only to wine. Although enjoyed anytime, it is a classic at l'heure de l'apéro - the hour of the apero, that most mellow and wonderfully civilized pause between the day’s activities and a pleasurable meal.
The Death of the Green Fairy Pastis was created in Marseilles in the 1920s, in response to the demand for anise-flavored drinks, and to fill the substantial void created when absinthe aka La Fée Verte - the green fairy - was outlawed in 1915. Today it is produced under many labels, and each maker has their own jealously guarded, secret recipe blending Provencale herbs with spices from around the globe.
Blends can include thyme, coriander, fennel, verbena, artemesia, savory, hyssop, lemon balm and mint to name but a few, and some finer pastis include upwards of twenty-four herbs. When artisanally produced, whole herbs are soaked in alcohol, often for several months, and then distilled. The spice base of star anise and licorice root, together with several other imported spices, is also macerated and distilled. After these processes are complete, the herb and spice elixirs are expertly blended, and pure water added to stabilize the alcohol at forty-five percent.
The resulting spirit is brilliant and clear, with colors that range from the yellow of summer straw, to a beautiful golden amber. First impressions and tastes vary, but are generally complex and multi-layered, with the expected anise and licorice root in the background. After a sweet start, individual herbal and spicy notes present themselves, then give way to a pleasantly drying, and again, layered finish.
Like its predecessor, pastis contains the anise derived compound anethole which, when coming in contact with water, causes the clear liquid to cloud dramatically like swirling smoke, and become opaque with colors ranging from milky white to soft pale yellow.
How to Drink Pastis Many have waxed poetic about pastis, and devotees will tell you that more than mere drink, it evokes and captures the very essence of the leisurely Provencale style and attitude towards life, therefore no matter how it is prepared it is to be savored, never rushed.
Pastis is the perfect refreshment on hot summer days, and traditionally enjoyed cold and diluted. It is often served neat, with a jug of cold spring water, allowing the drinker to blend to personal preference. The generally accepted dilution is one part pastis to five parts water. If ice is to be added, it is done after diluting to avoid crystallizing the anethole, but some purists decline ice altogether.
In addition, many well-known cocktails, such as the Mauresque and Perroquet, are made with pastis and flavored syrups. The former made with almond-flavored orgeat syrup, the latter with bright green mint syrup, and another favorite the Tomate, derives its red color from grenadine.
But Why Stop There Beyond imbibing, the herbal and spicy aromatics, and aniseed flavor of pastis marry perfectly in an endless list of fish and seafood dishes like bouillabaisse, moules frites, seabream menagere, as well as gambas flambé.
Pastis also lends its name and characteristic flavor to a host of delightful, boozy desserts and sweets like pastis macarons, and pastis béarnais, a brioche-like cake perfumed with the liqueur.