A couple of months ago I was standing in a bar in Glendale, the bar of a French inspired small plate restaurant, but a bar still. I had heard that they were focused on local ingredients, pure fresh flavors and house made everything…my kinda joint, so when asked what I may like to drink while waiting at the bar, I went for it, “Might you have any Pastis?” did it just like the Grey Poupon dude in the commercials. “How would you like that?” the French barkeep asked, knocked the smug, “aint I so funny” grin right off my face. “Um, just water” I responded which triggered a raised eyebrow from the French dude, “French style” he said, with just a hint of question in his voice, and I nodded. He returned a few minutes later, my friend’s drinks in hand but without mine…”what gives?” I thought and just then he gave me the, “come here” hand. My mind began thinking of what other drink I may have a hankering for, because you know, clearly they were out or something. “Have you ever tasted this?” my behind the bar buddy asked as he showed me a bottle, wrapped in yellowish/gold paper with a drawing of a glass of Pastis on it….now I love me some Pastis and have worked my way around all the ones I have come across, which, let’s be honest…aint that many, I’d never seen this one and my French friend chuckled at my wide eyed “oh boy oh boy” expression and poured me a long drag paired with a tiny pitcher of water.
Now the events that were to follow; tons of amazing food and wine followed by a stop at Pink’s for a dog, birthday cake and tequila shots, left me with little more than, “Damn that Pastis was wonderful, wonder what it was called” but I never stopped thinking about it. So imagine if you will how happy I was one afternoon when one of my Frenchy sales rep was visiting me and mentioned that he was going to Palate Food & Wine, (the Glendale eatery where I had the Pastis) that very evening! “Dude you have to get the name of the Pastis they are pouring there, the fancy one. The guy that talks funny…like you, (I’m always breakin their balls) will know which one it is” I told him, and that evening I was thrilled to get an email, via blackberry or iphone or whatever, with the name of the Pastis:
The name of the Pastis is La Muse Verte and they think it’s with Epic Wines
“Sweet” & “Sweet!” I now had the name and it was with a supplier we did some business with, awesome, then I proceeded to put it right out of my mind until late last week when our Epic rep came in to tell us she was going to another company, “Well, congratulations and before you go….” Got the case in yesterday afternoon, and immediately opened a bottle to share with the staff. Upon first sniff I was transported to years ago, where I spent an afternoon in the Rhone, sipping a locally produced Pastis, talking with friends and letting the hours slip into night, that was one fantastic day and I had never since tasted a Pastis with such rustic character, personality and complexity…until now.
The La Muse Verte Pastis, ($39.99) comes with a Pastis spoon, which is just the same as an Absinthe spoon and is used for the same thing, to balance a sugar cube over the glass, and pour water over the sugar cube into the drink, which adds sweetness and brings out the flavor. We skipped the sugar and just mixed it with water over ice, (I later had another one…needed to take the picture ya know, where I skipped the ice and found the drink even more expressive sans ice) and the flavor is absolutely amazing. Not like any other Pastis I have had here in the states, this one is bone-dry, loaded with a salted black licorice, medicinal, herby flavors and a finish that reminds me of Cognac in a way. This is a very refined Pastis, that is a far cry from what we have been accustomed to….Bennett even found it a bit difficult at first, despite his love for the cloudy beverage, it really is quite unique in style with a finish that is three times longer and drier than any I have ever tasted, truly remarkable stuff and the sheer seriousness of it might help me sip rather than guzzle…the bottle might even last a tad longer, I’ll let ya know!