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Liquor-ish Licorice 

Cocktails Anyone?
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt

Black licorice is one of those flavours that you either adore or can do without. (This does not include red licorice). Those who don't care for it are amazed at how much some folks love it, but love it they do. Licorice root and its flavour sibling star anise (also known as badiane) have been consumed in various ways since the dawn of human civilization. Star anise, from exotic fruits cultivated in remote regions of North Vietnam and Southern China, is a star-shaped spice that has an unmistakably hot and sugary taste with a pervasive aniseed scent.

It is known that anise drinks date back to the Babylonian Empire, and were used as elixirs during the Middle Ages to ease stomach and digestive problems. For the last couple of centuries, licorice- and anise-infused drinks have been consumed for pleasure rather than their health effects. Anisette, Greek ouzo, Turkish raki and pastis, which are flavored with licorice as well as anise, are popular around the Mediterranean, where they help consumers take the region's heat. One such drink that took a lot of heat itself was absinthe, "la fée verte" (the green fairy for its colour and effects). Technically, the drink was a distilled, highly alcoholic, anise-flavored spirit bottled without added sugar, derived from herbs including the flowers and leaves of the medicinal Artemisia absinthium, also called grand wormwood. Nineteenth-century versions of absinth contained high levels of thujone, a hallucinogen that causes brain damage with continued absinthe drinking.

Numerous artists and writers living in France during the late 19th and early 20th centuries were noted absinthe drinkers and featured absinthe in their works. These include Vincent van Gogh, Eduard Manet, Guy de Maupassant and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Later authors and artists would draw from this cultural well including Maupassant, Poe, Picasso, Wilde and Hemingway.

Absinthe has even made it on to the silver screen in films like Alfie, Bram Stoker's Dracula, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Lust for Life and Moulin Rouge.

Modern absinthe is blissfully thujone-free and gaining popularity. Due to its high alcohol – 68% – and concentration of oils, absintheurs (absinthe drinkers) typically add three to five parts water to a dose of absinthe, which causes the drink to turn cloudy (called louching). Water is used to dissolve added sugar to decrease bitterness. This preparation is considered an important part of the experience of drinking absinthe, so much so that it has become ritualized, complete with special slotted absinthe spoons. According to the experts, you never chill Pernod Absinthe or Pernod. If you wish to add ice, you put the ice in after you add the room-temperature water or juice to your drink.

In 1792 a French physician created the first generation of a "different" absinthe. In 1805 Henri-Louis Pernod acquired the absinthe formula and formed Pernod-Fils, an absinthe manufacturing company, renaming the elixir Pernod.

Pernod's formula was modified in 1915 with the removal of wormwood, which was banned in France due to its hallucinogenic effect. This brought about the Pernod we know today, a 40% alcohol anise spirit distributed in nearly 170 countries. Pernod ranks among the top-selling anise-flavored spirits in the world.

In France the majority of anise spirits are in fact pastis, which is a predominantly licorice spirit produced through maceration. Pernod is made through distillation and contains only a hint of licorice, which gives it a lighter taste and makes it versatile in cooking and mixable in cocktails. It also contains a distilled blend of aromatic herbs such as anise, fennel, mint, and coriander.

Pernod is a brilliant yellow color. The nose reveals heady waves of anise, fresh garden herbs, carnations, fennel and licorice. The exotic bouquet, when tasted neat, is potent and bittersweet; with the addition of water (five parts water to one part Pernod) it clouds up, turning an almond green that resembles its original inspiration, absinthe.

It's also popular as an aperitif, in cocktails and as a zesty cooking ingredient. The anise taste stimulates the appetite, making it an ideal before-dinner beverage.

Pernod is popular in a variety of cocktails, mixed with fruit juices, sodas, cranberry juice, champagne, vodka, gin, and rum. Here are a few Pernod and Pernod Absinthe recipes to get you going!

Pom Royale

  • 1 oz. Pernod
  • 1 oz. (POM) Pomegranate juice
  • 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 4 oz. Brut Champagne
  • Garnish: orange twist
  1. Pour the Pernod and Pomegranate juice over ice with two dashes of bitters.
  2. Stir gently and strain into a Champagne flute.
  3. Top with cold Brut Champagne.
  4. Garnish with orange twist.

(Created by Adam R. Seger CCP)

Good & Plenty

  • 1 part Pernod
  • 2 parts water
  • Splash of cranberry juice
  • Garnish: lemon wedge
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Serve over ice and garnish with a lemon wedge.

French Kiss

  • 1 part Pernod
  • 4 parts orange juice
  • 1 dash grenadine
  1. Mix Pernod and orange juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Strain into a large cocktail glass.
  3. Add grenadine and allow it to settle at the bottom of the glass.

Absinthe Kicker

  • 1 oz. absinthe
  • 3 dashes of Benedictine
  • 2 dashes of bitters
  • 1 oz. of water
  1. Shake well with cracked ice.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Absinthe Grand Marnier Liqueur Frappe

  • 1 oz. absinthe
  • 1 oz. Grand Marnier
  • 1 Tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 frozen ice cubes made out of orange juice
  • Garnish: thin slice of orange
  1. Place ingredients into a blender. Frappe,
  2. Pour into a chilled 3 oz. cocktail glass.
  3. Add orange slice.

Of course, to be au courant you could always try my colleague Irv's suggestion.

Polonium 210

  • ½ oz. absinthe
  • 1½ oz. Wyborowa Vodka
  • Tonic water
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice to taste
  • Dry ice
  1. Pour absinthe and vodka over ice in a lowball glass.
  2. Top up with tonic water and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
  3. Place a small amount of warm water in a saucer which is slightly larger than your glass
  4. Fill with dry ice. (Use tongs)
  5. Place cocktail glass in saucer containing dry ice. DO NOT ALLOW DRY ICE TO TOUCH YOUR SKIN. USE GLOVES.

Goes well with sushi or blinis and caviar!


For more information, you can contact Sheila at




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