Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archive Thru March 2002: Archive thru January 2002:Pastis
By Don_Walsh on Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 12:27 pm: Edit

You can dig in the archives of this forum and find where someone francophone, I think Bardouin, took me down a peg on this bit of etymology.

My recollection is that while I was working the pastis - pastische hypothesis, he said that the real root is a word meaning a kind of wheel-shaped French pastry, like a pizza, with a lot of different ingedients, a hodge-podge, a mish-mash. A little of this and a little of that.

By Heiko on Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 11:55 am: Edit

I have an idea... I mean I work as the computer guy for the seminaire for romance studies in the university: next time, before I repair someone's printer or save his precious files from a virus, I ask him to do a thorough research on the word "pastis" for me in return ;-)

But seriously, maybe one of the French linguists knows more about the word. We'll see.

By Mr_Rabid on Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 11:38 am: Edit

We need to find us a vintage Frenchman when we find the Pernod...

Can anyone out there point us somewhere (ebay?) we can pick up a 110 year old French Etymologist, preferrably cheap?

By Wolfgang on Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 05:54 am: Edit

Well, maybe I was wrong. From that text it seems the "unclear" meaning was already there before. Maybe there's also a link to the mess made around the absinthe prohibition. People must have used this word to describe this unclear drink that becomes unclair when water is added.

By Heiko on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 06:31 pm: Edit

this seems to be a rather complete definition (as far as I can tell with my very basic knowledge of French)

By Wolfgang on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 06:29 pm: Edit

I think the "mixed" meaning of pastis is not the root but is derived from the louche of the pastis to describe an unclear situation. Le Petit Robert have a secondary definition that mean a disagreement, an unclear situation. The main definition is of course an anis based drink.

By Mr_Rabid on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 05:46 pm: Edit

I am in the midst of moving- somebody remind me in a month when I have my old books unpacked. I have a dictionary or two from round about then. I will see if it was known in English.

By Etienne on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 05:30 pm: Edit

I have the two volume version of the OED and it doesn't seem to list the word at all. Too French?

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 02:22 pm: Edit

Blackjack is correct. I got spanked by someone francophone for making the same linguistic assumption (pastis = paste, fake, ersatz, as in imitation absinthe) and it is wrong.

Nevertheless, pastis did appear within a relatively short time after the 1915 ban (less than a decade, and that with the World War in between), it is anis based, it does louche, and is consumed much the same as absinthe, so it is fair to say that is replaced absinthe socially and culturally. But without all the bad connotations imposed by the anti absinthe propaganda, because pastis is at least ostensibly wormwood free.

By _Blackjack on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 02:00 pm: Edit

While "pastis" and "paste" share a common root, the drink's name is derived from a word meaning "a mixture" or "a pastry", and it is named after the variety of its ingredients, not its imitation of Absinthe. At least, that's what the online dictionaries say. Merriam-Webster dates the word from 1926, which seems a little late for me, but presumably that is it's first usage in English. I don't have access to an OED at work to get a more detailed history.

By Mr_Rabid on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 12:53 pm: Edit

It came out as an 'absinthe preplacement' after the ban.

Pastis is paste. As in costume jewelry.

By Wolfgang on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 12:40 pm: Edit

Pastis Henri Bardouin is a fine distilled and complex product. One of the best Pastis to be found. It use star anis but the taste is balanced by the other herbs and spices.

"La muse verte Pastis" is also a very good natural product. It is unsweetened and without artificial color. For this one, they had the good idea to also use green anis.

You can find some info and pastis reviews on Just use a translator if needed.

Ricard is the Budweiser of pastis. Drinkable but not great. I drink it only in bars because that's usualy the only pastis available around here.

By Heiko on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 11:26 am: Edit

Pastis is an anise drink (also called anisette), it does not contain wormwood, but it's not only absinthe without wormwood, it's different (even today's absinthes are more like Pastis with wormwood oil rather than real absinthe...)

It's alcohol with different essential oils, anise or star anise dominating the taste.

Try Ricard, Janot or Bardouin if you want a rather good one, take Pernod Pastis as a bad example only.

By Krinkov on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 11:13 am: Edit

I have been reading the site and looking around and I am still unclear as to what Pastis are exactly. Could somebody help me out, I would like to know about the different "Absinthe like" drinks... I use that only because I don't know what else to call them.

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