Stronger Aperitifs and Spirits
The next group of drinks are considerably more emphatic, and guaranteed to work on a drooping spirit like a powerful charm.
Anis is the general name for a wide variety of Pastis, the aniseed- and liquorice-flavoured spirits, commonly associated with Marseilles. Pernod is a soothing, subtle and exciting drink. It has many cousins all over the world with more or less the same qualities including, for example, Ouzo in Greece, Ojen in Spain, and some types of arrack. Pernod and Pastis are a sharp, clear yellow, the colour of lemonade powder, Ouzo is clear and colourless, and they all turn a milky white when cold water is added (about one part of Pernod, for example, to five parts water). A drink best taken from a long glass.
The traditional spirit of Mexico, Tequila is distilled from the fermented sap of the maguey, a cactus-type vegetable. The end-product is called mezcal — a firewater reputed to have hallucinatory side-effects. Tequila is a refined version of mezcal. The traditional way to drink it is with salt on the back of the hand, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
This is derived from the Latin Aqua Vitae, the term for distilled alcohol, and it applies to most Scandinavian spirits, flavoured or plain. They are best drunk with salt fish or the traditional smorgasbord, but they go well with German food, too.
They are variously flavoured with fruit, except for Aalborg, which is clear and has a faint hint of caraway seeds. The way to drink Aquavit is very, very cold, in small glasses, and swallowed in one quick gulp.
This comes into the same category as Aquavit. It is drunk widely in Central Europe and the Balkans, but is chiefly associated with Yugoslavia. It is basically plum brandy, and — a word of warning — its quality is very variable.