Mixology Monday: Henri Bardouin Pastis

Darcy O'Neil :: April 23, 2006 9:25 PM

MM-1.gifThe history of pastis in France is relatively short (1920) but is a direct decedent of the green fairy spirit called Absinthe (1797) and the much older anise based spirits like anisette, sambuca, ouzo and arak. Anise flavoured drinks have been around for thousands of years and upon the discovery of distillation, was probably one of the first flavoured liqueurs. When absinthe was banned in France in (1916), pastis was its replacement. At the time of the switch over, some producers tried to stay close to the absinthe recipe, while others decided to create something different. Henri Bardouin is referred to as a genuine ‘old style pastis’ and tries to stay pretty close to the original absinthe.

The real tradition of drinking pastis started with absinthe, a anise and wormwood flavoured spirit. The “proper” way to drink absinthe was to add a measure of the spirit to the glass, and pour ice cold water over a sugar cube suspended by an absinthe spoon, to dissolve it into the drink. Basically, you sweetened and diluted the absinthe. But because of some misinformation, absinthe was banned in a number of countries, including France. After World War I, companies started to look for a replacement product. This is when pastis was created. The most popular pastis is Pernod. This pastis is sweet, lacks the bitterness of absinthe and has a much lower alcohol content, 40% vs 68% for Pernod Absinthe. These new pastis are weaker and sweeter, but the custom of adding water to the spirit was maintained.

henri-bardouin.jpgThere are a number of producers, like Henri Bardouin, that are producing “old style” pastis. These pastis are referred to as “Grand Cru” pastis because of the artisanal approach they take when creating their pastis. Pastis Henri Bardouin is made from 48 natural Provençal herbs and imported spices. Each of the forty eight ingredients is individually infused in 96% alcohol to extract the aroma and flavour gradually over a period of three months. The second stage is the blend and resting which takes another month. The spirit is then diluted and made ready for bottling at an alcohol content of 45%.

Some of the common spices in Henri Bardouin include nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, thyme, clove, sage, cumin, mace, gentian, savory, white and black pepper. Some of the less common spices include mugwort, which adds a sublte bitterness, la maniguette (Grains of Paradise) which adds a freshness and aromatics, and tonka beans which adds a subtle tobacco flavour.

perroquet.jpgThere are many ways to drink pastis, but there are a number of drinks that are very common in the southern regions of France. One example is the Perroquet (parakeet, the green bird) is a drink that gets its name from the green colour produced by adding green creme de menthe to the pastis and water.

Perroquet

1 oz Pastis
¼ oz Green Creme de Menthe
Top Cold Mineral Water (4 to 5 oz)

Traditionally this drink is made without ice, but if you want, you can build it over ice.

The mint flavour is a good combination with the anise flavour in the cocktail. It adds a nice refreshing quality, that would be very thirst quenching on a hot summer day.

Another great pastis drink / cocktail is made using orgeat syrup and is called the Momisette (“tiny mummy”). I have no idea where the name comes from.

Momisette

1 oz Pastis
¼ oz Orgeat Syrup
Top Cold Sparkling Water (Perrier)

Again, tradition has this drink built without ice, but you can add ice if you want.

The orgeat is another complimentary flavour to pastis. It gives a subtle almond flavour, but if you add to much the almond can get a little out of control.

A good quality pastis is a good after dinner drink or a hot summer day thirst quencher. If you like the flavour of black licorice, then you will definitely like pastis. If not, you might want to try it in a cocktail like the Momisette.

Mixology Monday is being hosted by Cocktail Chronicles. Jump over there and see what else people are doing with Pastis.


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