Pick any cafe in the south of France and I’ll bet you one (or many) of the patrons will be sipping a cloudy, milky looking drink. Meet pastis, the famous aperitif.
Pastis is a anise-flavored liqueur that has its roots right here in Provence. The frequency that the Provençal imbibe in this drink leads me to think it has literally become part of their blood. Put on the market in 1932, pastis has become an integral part of life here on the Riviera. Ricard, Pernod, 51…the varieties are endless.
How do the French drink their pastis? You’d be hard pressed to find them drinking it straight up. Rather, a glass of pastis is always accompanied by a small carafe of water and ice. The drinker can then dilute it to their personal preference. (The water is what makes the drink turn opaque.) For a change of pace, the French also add their beloved syrups to a glass of pastis. Adding in grenadine will get you a “tomate,” while almond-flavored orgeat syrup makes a “mauresque.”
Pastis is strong, even with the water added in. I tempted to act like a native and failed miserably. For those who like a good strong drink and of course, anise flavor, give it a try.