Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Things to Read, Drinks to Drink


So, Absinthe is legal again, and it's all over the place. This makes us happy, but let's not forget about pastis, the concoction that was made without the mysterious and controversial wormwood herb, after Absinthe was banned around Europe in 1914 and 1915. Interestingly, the ban came about in part because a Swiss man named Jean Lanfay murdered his pregnant wife and two children during a drunken rage. Apparently, Lanfay had drunk several things, including wine and other liquors, but it was the 2 ounces of the green fairy that got him in deep trouble. The controversy that followed led to a wide ban on the manufacture and sale of Absinthe.

A shrewd businessman and the man credited with bringing Absinthe to the masses as an alcoholic beverage (it had originally been developed in 1792 as a medicine), Henri-Louis Pernod modified his infamous Absinthe recipe to produce the wormwood-free and lower-alcohol spirit, Pernod Anise (often just called Pernod).

Pernod is a great pastis, and it's consumed on hot summer nights as a refreshing (and strong) cool-down. It's a bright yellowish-green color, and tastes strongly of star anise, which is one of its main ingredients. It's generally served with a glass of water and a glass of ice so that the consumer can dilute the strong spirit to his/her liking. And like Absinthe, once the Pernod is diluted, it loses its transparency and becomes milky.

All that's required to enjoy Pernod is a rocks or cordial glass, some cool filtered water, and (if you want) some ice. Dilute the Pernod to your liking, toss in an ice cube if you want (note: some consider the ice gauche) and find a comfy chair, porch or patio.


Recommended literature pairing with Pernod: Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Start reading this and you'll know why. Jake and Brett down pastis like it's going out of style. Which, when it's hot and muggy outside, isn't such a bad idea.

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