Pastis... The history
The First World War tolls the knell for ABSINTHE, the number-one-drink during the end of the 19th century. ABSINTHE was the most popular anis-drink, much attacked by the anti-alcohol factions, first on the list of the wine-growers lobby, which was just recovering from phylloxera (a grape-vine parasite). In 1914, all drinks with more than 16° alcohol are rigorously outlawed. They wont be re-authorized until the end of the war except for ABSINTHE (forbidden by law in 1915). But the habit of taking anis drink, fresh, mixed with water will continue. The French government will authorize individual types of anis-based drinks, (picture) without, however, authorizing them as a group, fearing the return of ABSINTHE.
Around Marseille, the «apéro» tradition (the tradition of the drink before dinner) flourishes: fresh water, anis and liquorice are combined and enriched by other macerated aromatic plants. Marseille ABSINTHES with a base of badiane (star anis rather than green anis) and liquorice existed already. The rhythm and the «good Provencal life» encourage, very naturally, the production of these anis-type aperitifs, always re-invented according to the inspiration of the bar-owners and wine-merchants... and all this in total illegality !
Toward the end of the Twenties, a young 23-year-old salesman, son of a wine-merchant, gets ahold of the idea and, inspired, he commercializes an anis-based aperitif under his own name. Flying in the face of the authorities, Paul RICARD (picture) widely distributes this forbidden drink (picture). He is constantly fined by police and customs-agents. After a lot of intense lobbying, he succeeds in obtaining in 1932, the right to make and sell the drink. The fines are transformed into taxes. Paul RICARD will be obliged to find a name for his drink and to define its composition. His recipe enters the public domain and will be called «PASTIS» from the Provencal «pastisson» and the Italian «pasticcio», synonym of blend or mixture. PASTIS is officially born. Paul RICARD will have a 3-year-start on his competitors and a tremendous success.
Pernod, who introduced ABSINTHE in France, profits from the authorization of the drink in bringing out his «PERNOD» (picture) but never labels his bottles PASTIS. His drink is, however, an anis of the same family.
In 1936, the first French paid holidays definitively popularize PASTIS, and it becomes the most popular aperitif in France. And, finally, in 1938, RICARD obtains the right to sell it at 45° instead of merely 40°. During WW2, alcoholic drinks of over 16° are again forbidden. Only in 1951 will PASTIS (picture) and all other strong alcoholic drinks be re-allowed. PERNOD counter-attacks and brings out his 51, which he calls «PASTIS DE MARSEILLE». War has begun between the two producers, (picture) and continues until 1974 when the directors of the two companies agree to combine. The Pernod Ricard group will go on to its well-known success and growth. In spite of the birth of a multitude of little PASTIS drinks, Pernod-Ricard will have a lock on the market in terms of volume. All the surviving ABSINTHE distilleries will bring out their anis-based drinks, with at the top of the list the famous «PONT» of PONTARLIER in the French Jura, a distilled green anis.
At the end of the Eighties, appear many different PASTIS, more complex, aromatic blends elaborated by maceration. HENRI BARDOIN (picture) will be the instigator, soon to be followed by JEAN BOYER, JANOT (picture) etc. The new PASTIS is born. Inspiration, creativity and tradition give birth to an infinite number of subtle blends, of a surprising richness. Wine has a rival! The palette is fabulous (refer to the whole range).
This is the mood in which the MAISON DU PASTIS was conceived. It was the first place dedicated to the diffusion of all these jewels of drinks, very simple, or extremely complex, whose selection will depend on their quality. All differences of taste will be respected: from the fan of siesta and pétanque (French bowling game) to the expert on great wine and gourmet food. VIVE LE PASTIS!
The idea of bringing together in Marseille at the Vieux Port all the types of PASTIS seemed as natural as the sun and the sea. We were led to discover a great number of impressive PASTIS, from the simplest to the most complex. We have brought them all together, along with our own products.
Our fierce desire to support and enlighten you about the manufacturing and the taste quality of the products, makes the selection «MAISON DU PASTIS» just like a brand name worthy of the highest level of the production of PASTIS and ABSINTHE.
Thanks to :
Marie-Claude Delahaye, Jacques Sallé, Martine Nouet