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Henri Baudouin - Pastis

Pastis is one of those spirits that definitely brings you in a world of its own. Writer Peter Mayle rightfully wrote indeed: “The most powerful ingredient in pastis is not aniseed or alcohol but ambiance, and that dictates how and where it should be drunk. I cannot imagine drinking it in a hurry.” Once added with cold water, the aniseed traditional liquor frees its fresh, spicy, and clean tasting notes together with a magical and intangible ingredient that speaks to the heart, to the imagination, and allows you to indulge more in some magical free time. In particular, the French Henri Bardouin Pastis (45% abv, 90 proof) is a recipe handed down by generations of distillers at Distilleries & Domaine des Provence, where anise is blended with a secret alchemy of 60 herbs to free up a pervasive flavors and delicate complexity. Some ingredients come from beyond the ocean: star anise from China, liquorice root from Syria but also ginger, cardamom or cinnamon. Others, such as mugwort, bear the imprints of Haute Provence. Above all, many plants are harvested around Forcalquier, where Pastis was born.

As a tasting pastis, Henri Bardouin needs to be diluted more than other pastis in order to appreciate its aromatic finesse. But everyone is free to drink it more or less lightly, depending on their tastes and the outside temperature. The recommended eau-to-spirit ratio is one part of Pastis and five or six of water, to be mixed into a heavy-bottomed flared glass. When water is poured onto the Pastis, the clear alcoholic liquid becomes a cloudy, somehow amber-milky haze, which enhances the magic of this drink. The liquid libation is also ideal for fish, vegetable or spicy dishes because, thanks to its clean aroma, preserves the palate, allowing one to fully appreciate the dishes and wines tasted afterwards during a meal.

About its history, Alain Robert explains that this aniseed drink would not have happened if absinthe consumption had not been banned in 1915. “Pastis is the child of absinthe, a liqueur made from this plant with added green anise, fennel and star anise. Its prohibition and therefore its eviction from the recipe, allowed the development of aniseed liqueurs associated with other botanicals. Their recipe was left to the free imagination of the distillers until 1939, when the production of alcohol-based aperitifs was banned in order to promote wine-based aperitifs and therefore the wine industry. It was not until 1951 that its production was again freely permitted, provided that it was crafted by professionals. Thousands of recipes that existed before were abandoned and, after the war, there were only a few left, some of which quickly dominated the market.” Reflecting its heritage, Henri Bardouin follows original recipes from Haute-Provence (or Upper Provence) that can be traced back from the 17th through the 19th centuries. “The main characteristic of these recipes (compared to modern ones or the ones from other regions) is that Upper Provence’s pastis have always included tens of herbs in their formula,” says Robert.

Aperitif is the best time for drinking Pastis. It will hit the palate smooth and captivating like a kiss!


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