Me vs. the Anise Tree

(Actually, it's a bush, and I only know that because I watched The Thirsty Traveler the one night on the FLN channel, and Iron Chef America's Ed McMahon, Kevin What's His Name, was talking about ouzo.)

I've said before here, probably more than once, that I hate licorice, and I'm not a fan of licorice and anise flavors. I do like fennel and fennel seed a lot, though, for some strange reason.

So on my shopping spree a few weeks ago I finally found Herbsaint (I also found absinthe, but passed on having green fairy moments for now) and picked up a bottle of Ricard as well.

Ricard is a pastis like Pernod; both were created after absinthe was banned in the early 20th century, and both are now part of the same company. They're apƩritifs, and usually you mix them 1:5 with water, or else just plop a jug of water down in front of the drinker to let her add her own.

My first go was a Pernod cocktail (using Ricard): the anise stuff, water, sugar syrup, something else maybe?, on ice. It wasn't as strong as I thought it would be. The taste was pretty mild, especially as the ice melted and watered it down a little more and I got to the sugar syrup regions (yup, not mixed well).

Last night I made up for lost time in my calendar and mixed two recipes for Sazeracs. I used bourbon instead of cognac, so purists would say I wasn't making the real thing. I had more bourbon on hand than cognac, so one of these nights when I'm looking for a drink, I'll try again for authenticity.

The first called for bourbon or cognac, about 1/2 oz of lemon juice, 1/4 oz of Herbsaint (a good New Orleans liqueur for a New Orleans drink), and Peychaud's bitters (and M. Peychaud reportedly created the drink). Verdict: the anise didn't offend me, but there was too much lemon. It overpowered everything else.

Recipe no. 2 was bourbon, Peychaud's, just a drizzle of Herbsaint in the glass first to coat, and squeeze a bit of lemon peel over it at the end. Sort of like an Old Fashioned with a faint hint of licorice.

So the upshot is: I like these anise-based drinks better than I thought I would. I can see sitting on a terrace somewhere in Provence sipping one before dinner. Any invitations?