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Thread: Anised Drinks

  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Anised Drinks

    Last year I had a thread on arak and similar drinks (absinthe, pastis, anisette, ouzo) but it is defunct due to lapse of time.

    I'll post here further thoughts on these drinks and encourage others to do so.

    In Montreal I found recently an arak called El Massaya, over 50% ABV and aged in earthenware amphorae (per the label). This is a very good drink, while certainly the liquorice/anise taste is evident, other things are going on including a definite taste from the pottery vessels in which it was aged. I actually recognized the taste from its effect on bourbon in (some) decanters from the 70's and 80's!

    Initially I bought this type of drink to use in Sazeracs (the whiskey cocktail). I still do that but like them on their own too.

    Gary

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Anised Drinks

    It is interesting to me that so many of the Mediterranean cultures produce Aniseed drinks. I wonder why that is?

    By the same token, carraway seed is commonly used to flavor neutral spirits in the cultures around the Baltic.

  3. #3
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    Re: Anised Drinks

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    It is interesting to me that so many of the Mediterranean cultures produce Aniseed drinks. I wonder why that is?
    Tradition?

    Tim

    PS - I have to add more characters to be able to post my post.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Anised Drinks

    Sure, of course, but that still begs the question, why is it a tradition? Was there some single, very ancient aniseed-flavored drink from which all others are derived?

  5. #5
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    Re: Anised Drinks

    I don't know the answer. Aniseed is not I would say an "intuitive" taste, it took me years - and I have a sympathy for different drinks and try to understand them - to really like the taste, but I do now. Could the seed have been easily planted and cultivated around the Mediterranean? Was it traditional to numerous of these countries? I believe aniseed is used to flavour confections in the area, maybe its use in spirits was inspired by that.

    Gary

  6. #6
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    Re: Anised Drinks

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
    Could the seed have been easily planted and cultivated around the Mediterranean? Was it traditional to numerous of these countries? I believe aniseed is used to flavour confections in the area, maybe its use in spirits was inspired by that.
    Gary
    It is well-known that "Italian Sausage" is made with anissed. Maybe some influence from that direction?

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  7. #7
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    Re: Anised Drinks

    Medicinal roots....

    http://www.innvista.com/health/herbs/anise.htm

    "Anise has been cultivated in Egypt for at least 4,000 years. A reference was found in an Egyptian papyrus dating around 2000 BCE. Pharaonic medical texts indicate that the seeds were used as a diuretic, to treat digestive problems, and to relieve toothache."


    "Although mainly used in food, its licorice flavour has been used medicinally as a treatment for abdominal upsets and intestinal gas, as well as for a breath freshener. William Turner recorded in 1551 that "anyse maketh the breth sweter and swageth payne".

    ".....In medieval times, anise was used as a gargle with honey and vinegar to treat tonsillitis.

  8. #8

    Re: Anised Drinks

    Throughout the Mediterrean, aniseed liquors -- usually diluted (so as not to form cloudiness -- likely, thus, unfiltered) -- generally were digestifs, though often also used medicinally for such things as sleeplessness (via Pliny the Elder, who also notes it as a breath freshener, and remedy for scorpion stings), rheumetism, coughs and "pectoral affections". If mixed with hot water, anisette, for example, is said to have immediate palliative effects for bronchial ailments, including spasmodic asthsma.
    And, by the way, Virgil's root beer, in the U.S., has anise as an ingredient. Alas, it isn't available to me.

  9. #9
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    Re: Anised Drinks

    Thanks all for this information, most interesting.

    Gary

  10. #10
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    Re: Anised Drinks

    I had the opportunity to taste Absinthe Mata Hari at a distributors event here in Cleveland last week and I enjoyed it immensely. It is a different style than "traditional" absinthe and it contains less of the anise flavor. It was my first exposure to absinthe and the experience was a quite enjoyable drink.

    At 60% ABV before a splash of water and/or an ice cube, this stuff could really get you in trouble. The high proof never seems to step forward.

    I had a bottle of it in my hand today (and also a bottle of Fernet Branca) but the purchase will have to wait until payday.
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