Paul Ricard launched his version of pastis in 1932 following Pernod’s product in 1918 after the absinthe ban. The two companies would then fuse in 1975 to form Pernod Ricard, but still continue to produce their individual products. Ricard has earned the appellation “Pastis de Marseille” given its heritage and production techniques.
First of all, I’ll be analysing the undiluted drink’s robe and nose rather than after adding water. Absinthe connoisseurs typically evaluate the drink’s louche effect with water. However, we will be omitting this step as it’s not part of the liquor formula.
We’re looking at a dark brown liquid. In comparison, Pernod is typically green, but Ricard is a brown colour. It’s somewhat reminiscent of aged absinthe, which tends to change colour when left in the bottle. I believe it’s referred to as “feuille morte” absinthe.
There’s a slight cloudiness to its colour, but it’s generally clear. The legs are surprisingly thick and large and the beverage suggests depth.
Ricard Pastis’ Nose
Notes: Aniseed, Fennel, Ginger
Ricard delivers an overall unctuous and sweet nosefeel. The bouquet is quite rich without being too intense. It consists of aromas like aniseed, fennel, and ginger. However, the aniseed dominates it. In terms of complexity, it’s quite simple. Indeed, it doesn’t compare (and shouldn’t be confused) with authentic absinthe.
Ricard Pastis delivers a very sweet flavour profile, but there’s slight astringency in the mouthfeel. The opening consists pretty much of aniseed, but there’s also fennel and maybe a hint of bay leaf. As you get to the heart, it becomes a bit sweeter and a bit more unctuous. Expect Turkish delight, ginger, and a pinch of toffee.
The resulting finish consists of earth, caraway seed, and caramel. Nevertheless, the whole experience is dominated by aniseed. Therefore, if you’re fond of traditional Scandinavian aquavit, this is something to try.
You’re not looking at much complexity while the texture is going to be quite thick, almost viscous. Meanwhile, the harmony is overall quite balanced, but it leans very much towards the front of the palate because of the sweet spice of the aniseed.
The linger does last a long time on the palate, but that is because of the sheer power of these herbs.
How To Drink Ricard Pastis
As we systematically say in all our reviews, the best way to drink a beverage is the way that you enjoy it. However, if you’re new to Ricard pastis, we’ll provide you with a few ideas.
Firstly, Ricard is very strong neat and it’s not really the way it was made to be consumed. Instead, it’s diluted using ice water. The exact ratio is usually a matter of personal preference. If you order pastis at a bar, you’ll often be supplied with a carafe of water to do it yourself.
For a strong Ricard, you can add an equal measure of water. However, it’s often drunk at a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio. Ricard is usually served in a tall highball glass but there are smaller glasses made specifically for pastis, too. You can also add icecubes, too.
Finally, pastis can occasionally be used for cocktails even if it is a somewhat rare ingredient.
Below are a few ideas for making cocktails using Ricard Pastis:
Ice, Water & Pastis
Vodka, Cognac & Pastis
Lemon Juice, Syrup & Pastis
Mezcal, Chartreuse & Pastis
White Rum, Lime & Pastis
Naturally, our first suggestion is with water and ice. Otherwise, the above suggestions may help provide you with some inspiration on how you can combine it with other things. For more ideas, head to our guide to the best pastis cocktails!
Best Pairings With Ricard Pastis
In terms of its presentation, we’re looking at this classic French bottle, which has a traditional design. It looks elegant in both a cabinet and on a shelf. Meanwhile, it features a screw top that functions well.
As for the occasion, it’s an overall casual drink. It’s not particularly versatile. Indeed, it’s often served as an apéritif or in the late afternoon. Therefore, it’s not really something that you’ll see at formal and lavish events.
In terms of value, you’re looking at about 15€ in France for a 70cl bottle. In the USA, you’ll probably find it for around $30.
Overall Experience & Value For Money
Ricard is a well-known apéritif. Therefore, consider things like cold cuts, hams, pistachio nuts, and tapenade. However, for those who enjoy a good cigar with a refreshment, Ricard is actually a really interesting choice for a cigar that we recently reviewed.
The Plasencia Alma Del Campo has a distinctive anise note in the first third. That being said, the profile of pastis is quite potent. Therefore, take care when pairing cigars as it could easily overpower its flavour.
Meanwhile, if you like Connecticut cigars, their mild profile and their creaminess would be an excellent pairing with a pastis. Therefore, consider things like the Nub Connecticut as well.
Ideal for a hot summer’s afternoon on a café terrace, Ricard Pastis is an iconic drink in both France and abroad. If you’re looking for new refreshement during hot weather, it’s an excellent choice. Meanwhile, it’s a decent enough substitute for absinthe. However, it’s no replacement as it’s a far more laidback and less complex beverage.
Charles-Philippe's work has covered a broad range of subjects from cigars and fragrances to wine and spirits. Fascinated by how history and culture together form the unique contemporary identities of alcoholic beverages, his articles follow an in-depth exploration of their development through a combination of tradition and innovation.