When Absinthe, the popular fuel of 19th century drinkers, was banned in 1914, the Mediterranean tradition for anise liqueurs might well have ended; however the penchant for these exotically flavoured drinks did not disappear overnight. In Provence, enthusiasts quickly began to create their own flavoured spirits, capturing flavours by macerating plants to release their aromas. ‘Pastis’ soon emerged and became so famous that it could be found throughout the south of France. By 1932, Pastis had been commercialised by Paul Ricard but smaller distilleries continue to develop secret recipes that they have passed down the generations.
Lou Garagai from Janot is considered as one of the very best examples of Pastis. The distillery remains independently owned and one of the last in Provence; unlike many other brands, the herbs and spices are not distilled, but macerated to impart natural flavour and colour. Although the exact number and types of herbs and spices used are a closely guarded secret, we can tell you that there is star anise and green anise from China, cloves from Indonesia and the Caribbean, tonka beans from South America, cardamom from Malaysia, Cinnamon from India and Sri Lanka and black and white peppercorns from Malaysia.