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JoelInDallas

Which Pastis is best?

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I am curious as to the consensus as to peoples opinions as to what the best pastis is.

 

I have not seen a thread on this topic and I think it might be fun.

 

I have tried Herbsaint and Absente and I don't have much of a preference either way. I did notice that Herbsaint says it has USDA artifical colors in it. That seemed odd to me. Itsn't it a sign of an inferior product if it needs artifical color.

 

Hopefully this will spark a spirited debate. :devil:

 

I am getting the "real stuff" soon. I do wish that it weren't so complicated to get ahold of real absinthe.

 

Chat away,

Joel.

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I was always fond of the Henri Bardouin, but then I never really became a connoiseur of pastis. I just kind of tried a few and stuck to the ones I liked. When I discovered absinthe, all that changed. I haven't had a single glass of pastis since my first sips of absinthe, and now I'm a rabid learner, attempting to become as much the connoiseur as I possibly can in as short a time as possible. I was never really passionate about pastis, I just enjoyed drinking it.

 

I'm passionate about this... :absomphe:

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There are some pretty tight rules for what can be called a pastis. I don't think Absente or Herbsaint necessarily qualify. Not all non-absinthe anise drinks do; for instance, a pastis must contain liquorice root.

 

The best true pastis I've tried is Henri Bardouin. Ricard is sickly sweet, in my opinion. The Pernod 51 isn't half bad either (51 is not the strength, but the year it was released - it was banned during the WWII). Still, I prefer a good ouzo, like the ones they make on Lesvos; it's pure anise, no liquorice.

 

Haven't tried arak; it's not available around here, but I might be able to find it in Germany next time I get there.

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I think I recall Hiram discussing a pastis(?) that was produced by those who distill the François Guy. I cannot remember who he had the discussion with but they both thought that that particular pastis was suspiciously close to the Guy.

 

Does that ring a bell with anyone?

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Arak is definitely better, especially if your tastes develop away from licorice root and mint. As far as Araks go, El Massaya is made from neutral brandy & grape spirits... very clean and refreshing. Have it beside Kefraya Arak (grape alcohol and anise, seeing a pattern here?) -- once you've tasted the two side-by-side, you'll note a very familiar scent in this one that occurs in many (favored) commercials... not to say that's good or bad, but it's more caramel-scented than the other.

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Je préfer Henri Bardouin.

 

The taste is anis, but it has a lot of mellow herbal flavors, too. Not heavy, knock-you-over-the-head herbs like Chartreuse (reminds me of drinking Pine scented Lysol...not that I have ever done that). I have and usually do drink Ricard, Pernod and Pastis 51, but they don't have the subtle herbal flavors that HB does.

 

My first experience tasting absinthe reminded me of HB.

 

M

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The best absinthe substitute I've had is the Emile Pernot distillery's Vieux Pontarlier, although shipping is expensive (you pretty much have to get it from LDF). Very nice, though. I think I actually prefer it to Un Emile.

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If I am going to have something shipped to Dallas from the UK it will be the real thing. It seems to me it would be a waste to ship a pastis that far.

 

What does the group think is the best way to introduce friends to Absinthe?

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I went to a local store that has pretty much every alcohol legal in the US (and if they don't have it, they can get it) and bought a bottle of Razzouk and one of Herbsaint. I liked the Herbsaint better, but they're both good.

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There are some pretty tight rules for what can be called a pastis. I don't think Absente or Herbsaint necessarily qualify. Not all non-absinthe anise drinks do; for instance, a pastis must contain liquorice root.

Pastis is a macerate of star anise, licorice and possibly some other herbs (or an awful lot of other herbs in case of HB). Le vrai pastis de Marseille was invented by Paul Ricard during the interbellum. Mugwort Absente aimed at the American market is not a pastis. Neither is Pernod 40 (or 45 in France). It's an anis.

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I think I recall Hiram discussing a pastis(?) that was produced by those who distill the François Guy.

That would be the Pontarlier-Anis. One of those anise drinks that aren't a pastis.

Like Vieux Pontarlier (Pernot) that is a distilled anis, made with select green anise from Spain and without any star anise or licorice.

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I have tried Pernod, new Herbsaint, and Absente. None of them were worth the time to louche, in my humble opinion.

 

Now, I have been fortunate enough to have a sample sip or two of vintage Herbsaint... That was one of the best glasses of ANYTHING I have ever had.

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A smart domestic distiller could make an anis-verte like old Herbsaint, just like the makers of boutique vodka and gin do for their respective markets.

 

Old Herbsaint went from '34 until the early 70's in it's original incarnation, there is no reason a similar product couldn't exist today.

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Thought I'd revive this dead thread with a new question.

 

I just went to the Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in San Francisco again last night. ( they've been around so long that their website is simply : absinthe.com )

 

This place is spectacularly well designed and executed, with a fortune in collectible absinthiana in framed cases built into the walls. All the details of the place, and it's menu, suggest that it's owned by a world-class absintheur, or at least somebody very well-steeped in the culture.

 

There are something like 10-12 pastises on the wine list, including some very good ones. But when you order one, here's how it's served:

 

It comes in an Absente-branded Torsade, or swirl-type absinthe glass. So far, okay. But the water provided with it is room-temp, and comes in a mini-carafe that barely holds enough water for a 1:1 dilution, which to my taste is pretty damned thick with a pastis. Alongside the mini-carafe is a highball glass filled with cubed ice, with a miniature spoon that's too small to hold an ice cube.

 

Does anybody here think this is proper serving of pastis? The place is so, well, good that it's hard to believe they'd make up this bizzare serving arrangement for no reason, but it doesn't make any sense to me. When I had pastis served to me in french bars, it generally came with a little Pernod pitcher or carafe that held enough ICE COLD water for a good 5:1 pour if you wanted it.

 

I go to this place fairly often, and this is always how they serve pastis. I'm going to approach the manager or owner about it next time I go, but I wanted to find out if anybody here might know a reason that it might legitimately be served this way?

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Went to a restaurant when I was visiting Crosby that had quite a few brands of Pastis on the menu, and we tried most of them (Crosby eventually asked the server if she was just pouring everything out of the same bottle back in the kitchen).

 

Anyways, the way they serve it is with a pastis glass (cyllindrical with a line towards the bottom for the dose marker), a caraffe of cold water, and a tray of ice cubes. The glass comes already filled to the line, and you add as much water as you like, which still leaves a good bit of room, which you fill up with ice cubes.

 

I don't know if that's the traditional way, but it at least made pastis about as palatable as I've known it to be.

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I have always been served the glass of pastis with a pitcher of cold water. Not ice water, but cold water. (probably because I don't go to high-class joints in France)There is always enough water to dilute it a lot if you like it that way.

 

Interesting that they would be stingy with the water...

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