What is Pastis?

So what exactly is Pastis? Make sure you’re not confusing the word with the accessory girls tend to wear at festivals. It’s PAHS-TEES, it’s a type of anise-flavored liqueur made in la France. Go get your party hats, because this is the perfect sweet treat for an intimate celebration between friends, especially while watching a show or movie set in France.


To say pastis is very appreciated in the region of Southern France would be somewhat of an understatement: the act of drinking pastis is very much interwoven with the culture and the lifestyle of the region.

This pale yellow liqueur mainly includes anise and licorice roots. However, there are endless amounts of recipes available, some of which can be quite complex or simple, depending on what you decide. It’s quite viscous and thick going down so a lot of people dilute it with water to drink it.

A Brief History:


Pastis was born in a time of crisis, the year was 1914 and France found itself in the middle of the First World War. On top of the terrible turmoil every beverage that exceeded 16% alcohol volume was forbidden in France.

This was due to the fact that the government wanted to prevent the soldiers from drinking too much. Which no lie is probably best to concentrate on the field, but still, drinking was a way of dealing with the turmoil so tensions were high.

The absence of Absinthe, being the most popular drink in France during that time, cause people to rapidly look for a replacement and they found: pastis. Which later became the alternative to absinthe thanks to the similar aromas, and that distinctive anise taste, it seemed like a good compromise.

History gives credit to Paul Ricard for commercializing it in 1932. He claims he was introduced to the liqueur by a shepherd. Being a creative mind, Ricard altered the recipe with herbs from the region of Provence and added licorice notes. The original pastis recipe he created with exact measurements and instructions has never been disclosed and remains a secret.

As for the name we found two different explanations for "pastis". Wikipedia claims it comes from the Occitan pastís which translates to “mash-up.” But, Coast and Country France says the name pastis comes from the Provencal word “pastisson” which in their case translates to, “mixture.”

As you know from our What Is Absinthe article, the laws in France are no longer that strict, and Pastis is still known and loved throughout the country.

Pastis Vs. Absinthe:

There are many differences between Pastis and Absinthe; the main one being the taste.

-Absinthe tends to possess strong herbal and, at times, fruity flavors, as well as a light bitterness coming from the wormwood and grand wormwood. However, Pastis tends to provide sunny flavors, and that are a lot sweeter in contrast.

-A Pastis recipe can be way more complex, as it can contain more than 65 ingredients, of which large amounts are not used for the production of Absinthe.

-Pastis is also produced through maceration, as opposed to distillation, which is a process that only high-quality absinthes undergo.


Though at one point Pastis did takeover the market, especially when consuming Absinthe was illegal, now you have the knowledge to try them both and figure out which one you like the best.

Thanks for reading and as always…

Cheers from,

Happy Hour City