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Pastis Ricard is arguably the best known Pastis. It is an anise and liquorice flavoured aperitif produced in Marseille in the south of France. Pastis is a similar drink to other anise based drinks such as Ouzo, Mastika and Raki which are also very popular around the Mediterranean.
Ricard was created in 1932 by an an eterprising young man, Paul Ricard who developed the formula for a new aniseed-based aperitif, Ricard, also known as “pastis of Ma Pastis Ricard. At the time many people were experimenting with anise-based drinks to fill the voice created by the 1915 Absinthe ban. Today Ricard is owned by the French drinks company Pernod Ricard, who also produce Pastis 51 and Pernod (not technically a Pastis).
One of the components used for the production of Pastis Ricard is badian, or star-anise, a rare spice that grows in the remote provinces of southern China, known since ancient times for its many therapeutic qualities. The anise flavour is enhanced by liquorice, which contributes smoothness and gives Ricard its beautiful yellow colour. The particular species used, “glycyrrhiza glabra”, is known for its fragrance. It grows primarily in the Middle East. The liquorice, after being harvested, culled and cut into sticks, is shipped to Marseille, as is the star-anise. It is there that the various anis essences and liquid extracts of liquorice and of aromatic herbs from Provence are purified and blended to create the world-famous Pastis Ricard. By law Pastis must contain less than 100 grams per litre of sugar and be bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV, Pastis de Marseille, however, must be bottled at a minimum of 45% ABV.
Ricard is best served cold, diluted 1 to 6 with water and finished with a few ice cubes. The addition of water turns the Pastis cloudy or milky in appearance, hence the colloquial name of “Milk of Marseille”.