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Beyond France's Pastis, Get To Know These Authentic Regional Liqueurs

pastis drinks across the globe

Flavoured liqueurs or cordials have long been part of the cultural fabric of many regions where these fragrant drinks are enjoyed by themselves or as spectacular additions to cocktails. Infused with myriad herbs and spices, these drinks are often crafted out of refreshing aromatics which give the liqueurs a very intense taste and hue. One such popular anise flavoured drink with origins in the south of France is the pastis. Its deep golden colour makes this drink thoroughly inviting as an aperitif enjoyed on a leisurely evening.

Pastis was introduced in France in the early 20th century following the ban on absinthe and quickly became a favoured drink in the southern provinces. However, beyond the French borders too, there are many other liqueurs infused with the spicy, sweet and liquorice-like notes of anise which make them just as sought after as the pastis in France. These anise based liqueurs are also popular as cocktail mixers and can often be incorporated in classic recipes to give them a bit more levity and flavour.

Read on below to know more about some varieties of anise-flavoured liqueurs as well as pastis produced around the world:


If you ever find yourself in Turkey and are looking for a close cousin of pastis, order a glass of raki as an aperitivo. This Turkish drink made from anise is similar to the French pastis and can be consumed with chilled water just like a pastis cocktail. The drink undergoes an identical process of turning cloudy when water is poured over it just like the pastis, making it a wonderful anise flavoured variant that would open up your appetite before a meal.

anise liqueurs


Another anise flavoured drink popular for its liquorice taste is the mastika which comes from the Balkan regions. This is quite popular in Bulgaria and Greece and although it is made using mastic or a resin obtained from the mastic tree, it has a distinctly anise-like flavour which makes the drink quite potent. You can try the mastika as a riff on the pastis to craft a slightly eclectic cocktail.


While the pastis originated in Provence, there were other similar recipes being experimented with in other parts of Europe. One of these Greek variations is the ouzo, a white, cloudy liqueur with a taste similar to the sweetness of the pastis. The drink is often served as a very popular aperitif and when mixed with water, undergoes the ‘ouzo’ effect or the process of two liquids coming together without having the need to whisk them together.


Another anise flavoured variant is the arak, a liquor well-known in west Asian regions like Lebanon and Jordan. This drink is just as potent as the pastis and can be savoured with water or mixed into other refreshing cocktail concoctions containing citruses or mints to add a more intense layer to the drink. In fact, arak can well be called the first flavoured spirit to have been concocted and according to some, it even precedes the creation of the French pastis.

drinks like pastis


Beyond the French borders, one would find different spins on anise drinks and one such variation popular in Spain is the anisette. It is often enjoyed post a heavy meal as a very welcoming digestive. The anisette is then quite a contrast to the aperitif pastis which is generally enjoyed before a meal. But this Spanish drink is thoroughly light and inviting and can be savoured for its aromas and pleasing sweetness.


If you desire some more intensely alcoholic anise flavoured mixes, look no further than the Mexican xtabentún, a traditional Mayan liqueur. The drink is made by fermenting honey produced by bees from the nectar of the xtabentún flower. This alcoholic variant also contains a significant proportion of rum and anise seed making it a very deep and layered drink, perfect as a slightly boozy tipple.

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