Pastis is an alcohol infusion from France which contains 38-45% ABV. Its essential ingredients are anise and licorice, but it can also contain more than 50 other herbs and spices except for mugworts. All Pastis producers keep their own recipes in secret. This spirit is very popular in France, Belgium, and Luxemburg. Among other similar spirits are Italian liqueur Sambuca, Greece vodka Ouzo, and Middle Eastern Arak.
French housewives always keep handy anise vodka in the kitchen, since pastis is not only good for drinking but also making cocktails, adding to pastries, meat dishes, and soups. Pastis should be stored in a cool dark place but not in a refrigerator, otherwise the essential oils of anise crystallize and precipitate.
Pastis is served in shot glasses with a thick bottom and is drunk in sips. Instead of water, you can mix the drink with juice or syrup, or you can sweeten it with ordinary sugar using an absinthe spoon. To do this, put a slice of refined sugar on a special teaspoon with holes and pour it over with water. The resulting solution should flow into the anise liqueur right away.
One of the key properties of this drink, for which the French love and appreciate it, is the coolness it gives even in the most muggy weather That’s why pastis is an affordable liqueur which remains favorite among blue collars, uptown folk, and aristocrats. It’s a strong alcohol, but it has certain softness to it which embodies the spirit of France itself. Pastis is served on official visits and family dinners to this day.
Homemade Pastis Recipe
- Vodka (40-45% ethanol) – ½ liter
- Anise seeds – 1 tsp
- Badiane – 2 buds
- Licorice – ½ tsp
- Caraway – 1 tsp
- Sugar – to taste
- Put all seeds and herbs in a jar.
- Pour the contents over with vodka, stir, and seal.
- Infuse for 14-16 days in a dark place with room temperature. Shake the jar once every 4-5 days.
- Filter the infusion through cheesecloth, squeeze out the herbs.
- Add sugar to taste. Infuse in a dark cool place for 1-2 days to let the taste stabilize.
- Drink Pastis neat or watered down (this may cause it to become clouded).
How to Drink Pastis
Pastis is an aperitif above all and is served before meals in order to wheat appetite before plentiful dinner. Anise improves digestion and relieves stomach pain. That’s why such infusions were used for the same purposes even in ancient Greece.
In addition, Pastis can also be used as a digestive—an after-dinner alcoholic drink. It’s drunk both after a luxurious feast and before going to bed or even in between meals. You can follow Pastis up with any dishes, and it goes really well with fish (for example, tuna in olive oil).
This anise drink can contain up to 45% ABV. Traditionally, Pastis is mixed it with ice water in the 1:5 ratio. You can use this ratio as a reference to adjust the strength of your homemade anise vodka to your liking.
Homemade Pastis is really similar to the original drink from France, but keep in mind that it’s only imitates its taste.