ANISE SPIRITS OLD AND NEW
THE LATEST DISTILLERS PROVE THE TRADITIONS BEHIND OUZO AND PASTIS HAVE DEEP ROOTS — ONES THAT CAN GROW IN DELICIOUS NEW DIRECTIONS.
OUZO, FIRST AND LAST
In the mid-19th century, Nikolaos Katsaros was given a copper still by relatives and used it to learn the secrets of distillation and create the first ouzo. By 1889, the year of the Fourth Zappeian Olympiad, his ouzo had become an award-winning drink recognized throughout Greece, and by 1931 it was exported as widely as France, Egypt and America.
The original recipe for Ouzo Katsaros, made from 14 different herbs and seeds, was handed down through four generations of the Katsaros family and is still used to this day. Katsaros Distillery is the oldest distillery of ouzo in the world, and is now located in a privately owned, 64,500-square-foot facility with a production capacity of 2,000 bottles per hour. PASTIS BEYOND PROVENCE
In 2011, distillers Piero Nuvoloni-Bonnet and Enrico Giordana of the Argalà liquorificio made history by producing the first Italian artisanal pastis. Nuvoloni-Bonnet had grown up around the spirit as he spent his summer holidays staying with his great-grandfather in Grenoble, France, who would often enjoy the essentially French spirit after a visit to the market. Meanwhile, his friend Giordana had inherited the Giordana di Roccavione Distillery, a classical spirits manufactory which had been founded by his grandfather but closed shortly before his birth.
Together, the two childhood friends envisioned a pastis made the old fashioned way, with no shortcuts, and using ingredients locally sourced from the Occitan valleys. In the Occitan dialect, argalà means a deep satisfaction, and that’s what the two distillers sought to deliver with their pastis made with 35 ingredients including cinnamon, pepper and cloves. Its taste is drier than many other pastis, which means it lends itself well to cocktails, as well as the traditional one part pastis to five parts water dilution — and, of course, it’s a perfect complement to Mediterranean appetizers such as olives, cheese and seafood.