Pastis par excellence

The cloudy, aniseed-flavoured ap�ritif has long been a French favourite. Zo� McIntyre tracks down a Grand Cru version in its Proven�al homeland

As quintessentially French as the beret or the baguette, pastis conjures up summer afternoons watching p�tanque in a sunny square while sipping the nation’s popular ap�ritif.

Originating in Provence, pastis was initially prepared in family homes by slowly macerating herbs in alcohol to tease out the full flavours. As the drink grew in popularity, particularly after the similarly flavoured but much stronger absinthe was banned in 1915, big names such as Pernod and Ricard came to dominate production.

But for connoisseurs, the ‘Grand Cru’ Pastis Henri Bardouin (45% vol) from the Distilleries et Domaines de Provence stands apart from the mass-market contenders thanks to its more complex recipe, blending 65 Proven�al herbs and exotic spices. Launched in 1898, the company favours traditional methods which include individually infusing the herbs and spices with the alcohol before blending takes place. The result is a spicy, aromatic drink with a subtle flavour. Being more intense than other brands, Henri Bardouin requires only one part pastis to six parts of water, compared with the usual three to four parts of water.

The independent distillery is the only survivor out of ten that were once based in the town of Forcalquier in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. The Pays de Forcalquier is classed as a ‘site remarquable du go�t’ for its extensive cultivation of herbs.

Visitors can try Pastis Henri Bardouin for themselves this autumn as Distilleries et Domaines de Provence has an espace d�gustation providing free tastings.

Tel: (Fr) 4 92 75 71 66 www.distilleries-provence.com

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