Nightcap – Pastis!

Pastis sprung to life to fill the void left by the banning of absinthe in France in the early part of the last century. Well, that’s probably a misstatement, as it was years after the ban that Pastis came along. But damn it, the French like their anise-flavoured hooch and that’s all that matters.



Absinthe, Pernod, Pastis (sometimes called Ricard) are all unique in character and composition. But they have in common a tongue-numbing anise-like flavour (which is not always derived from anise – Absinthe gets its taste from wormwood, Pernod from anise and Pastis from star anise & licorice root) and the ouzo effect.

Pastis and water

Pastis avec de l’eau

The ouzo effect, or spontaneous emulsion, is the world greatest passive-aggressive bar trick. Everyone that thinks you’re weird for drinking the stuff in the dusty old bottle, suddenly wants to talk to you when they see the clear brown liqueur turn a milky yellow as you add water. Then, when you try to explain it (or they smell it) they are instantly reassured that yes you are, in fact, weird. Much like the writer of this paper (here), that measured the size of anthenol droplets in the spontaneous emulsification of Pastis using small-angle neutron scattering techniques… I was about to say “no girlfriends over there”, but then I saw it was written by a woman… (BTW, the droplets are on the order of one micron).

And with that, my glass is getting dry and my lids are drooping. SKOL!


  1. As impressive as the ouzo effect is, I don’t think it matches dropping transparent egg whites into a decent nonaqueous solvent, such as acetone.

  2. It’s a classic experiment for biochem majors, and proof that cooking doesn’t require heat.

    You pour egg whites into the acetone and within seconds they look like the egg whites you get when you make an egg over easy. In this case the acetone denatures the egg albumins because the acetone strips the water away from the protein.

    However, because of the acetone, you wouldn’t want to eat the product.

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