All over France in the summer, people sit in outdoor cafes and drink a tall glass of pastis mixed with water. A quintessential French experience, pastis is a liqueur made from anise.
When absinthe was banned at the beginning of the 20th century, pastis was developed as a substitute, as it was made with the same anise and herbs as absinthe, but without wormwood. Before serving, pastis is often diluted with water; a general rule of thumb is one part pastis per 5 parts of water. Pastis on its own is a transparent yellow-green color; when water is added, it becomes a milky color.
Pastis is also added to cooking - it's a good pan deglazer, and a good addition to melted garlic butter and escargots. It is also mixed in various cocktails in France, such as a tomate (pastis with grenadine) or a cornichon (pastis with banana syrup.)
It's easily available in most liquor stores such as BevMo, specialty European stores, and can be purchased online.
(Image: Kathryn Hill)