Aniseed flavoured 

  • Absinthe 

  • Pernod and Pastis (Ricard)

  • Ouzo

  • Raki

  • Bitters (Aperitifs / Digestifs / Cocktail bitters 

  • Mediterranean > anise 

  • anise - pungent, sweet, liquorice like

  • used by distillers centuries ago

  • made using complex recipes 

  • botanicals share a common flavour compound > ANETHOLE <

  • range of techniques to extract flavour from the botanicals

  • create many flavoured spirits to be blended into one final product

  • colourless and coloured

  • premium producers use artificial colouring to avoid colour variation 


  • flavour compound

  • star anise

  • anise

  • fennel

  • dissolves in ethanol but NOT in water

  • spirit is diluted, louches 


Very popular in the 19th c, banned across EU in the 20th c. This is when pastis style drinks filled the gap. 


  • key ingredient > grand wormwood

  • wormwood > musky floral notes and a bitter element that shouldn't dominate

  • green anise and fennel > dominate aniseed flavours

  • colour > melissa, petite wormwood and hyssop 


  • main botanicals are macerated in high % alcohol for 24hrs

  • traditionally wine-based some top-producers continue this

  • flavoured spirit is diluted, redistilled with botanicals

  • spirit of 80%abv is collected 

  • colour > short maceration 

  • not all are green, some are clear

  • botanical recipe will vary from producers

  • new 21st century are being produced by adding extracts to alcohol 

  • classic absinthe with louch when water is water

  • traditionally dry, served with sugar and water 


  • a toxin present in wormwood

  • toxin can cause convulsions in high amounts 

  • levels in absinthe are completely harmless and have always been

  • levels are strictly controlled

  • USA 10 PPM

  • EU 35PPM

Pernod and Pastis 

Made after the ban of absinthe. The category is dominated by 2 key brands today. 

Pernod and Ricard (Pastis)


  • star anise

  • anise

  • chinese star anise

  • fennel

  • liquorice root (legal requirement for pastis)

Production for Ricard (Pastis)

  • only 4 botanicals, Chinese star anise, fennel, liquorice root and aromatic herbs

  • Chinese star anise and fennel are distilled to create an anethole essence

  • anethole essence is very strong, only a small amount is need

  • Middle eastern liqourice root is crushed, dried and placed in a pressurised percolator

  • a mix of alcohol and purifed water 42%abv is through the liqurice 3x to extract flavour/aromas

  • the same process is used on aromatic Provencal herbs - thyme, rosemary, laurel

  • all the seperate liquid are blended together with neutral alcohol and sugar

  • maximum 100g/L

  • Colour comes from liquorice root + caramel


  • Greek

  • variety of styles and production methods

  • classic example - HRS, redistilled with anise, other botanicals and mastic (resin obtained from the mastic tree)

  • cheap examples - blend anethole and HRS


  • Turkey

  • SUMA > rasin/grape spirit distilled to a maximum of 94.5%abv

  • suma has an important on the Raki

  • suma OR suma mixed with HRS is diluted with water, redistilled with aniseed and the spirit is collected at 80%abv

  • distillate is diluted and sweetened

  • rested for a minimum of 30days 


  • "amaro" in Italian

  • Italy - biggest following

  • consumed for medicinal reasons, centuries ago

  • health giving properties - aid digestion 

  • recipes are kept secret

Bittering agents

They are distilled to produce an essential oil or macerated in HRS

  • cinchon

  • bark/quinine

  • angelica

  • gentian 

  • bitter orange 

  • rue

  • artichokes 

  • bitter aloe

Aromatic additions 

  • clove

  • vanilla

  • coriander

  • sweet peels


  • enjoyed before a meal

  • most popular CAMPARI

  • Campari, orange in colour, used in cocktails. Main bittering agent is bitter orange, rhubarb and quinine. 

  • Cynar - based on artichokes + 13 plants/herbs

  • Aperol - similar to Campari, less complex and more herbal

  • Suze - France top aperitif, gentian root


  • sweet and overtly bitter styles


  • Averna (top selling Italian) herbs, barks, botanicals

  • Calisay (Spain) bark of the calisaya 

  • Becherovka (Czech) 

  • Unicum (Hungary) 40 botanicals

Overtly Bitter

  • consumed in small quantities

  • digestive tonics

  • Fernet Branca (Italy)rhubarb, saffron, aloe, iris, bitter organe, cinnamon

  • Carlsbad (Czech)

  • Underberg (Swiss)

  • Jagermeister(Germany)56 ingredients

Cocktail Bitters 

  • high strength

  • reduced to an essence

  • ancient idea of an elixir

  • declines along with the cocktail culture

  • revival is currently happening 


  • Venezuela 1824

  • bitter barks + many tropical botanicals 

  • 1st as a medicinal drink for troops 

  • 1830 > exported 

  • London Exhibition "pink gins" changing its use

  • Now based in Trinidad

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