Anise Adventures

This man, this tall bastard, he is from Catalonia. So said my friend, the “drinking” Antonio of the duo of Antonios in my two-person class; the father of the “sober” Antonio (burdened with a heart condition) is also Antonio, and I have other friends named Antonio Juan and Jose Antonio. I’ve learned to keep them straight. The tall Catalonian looked at me and said asked, “Inglesa?” and no, I’m Americano. He smiled and my aquatic Antonio ordered shots for the group of eight they’d summoned for lunch. Everyone but me got Limoncello; for me, a special Galician shot. I had boasted about the size of American beer glasses in class and had shocked my Antonios, so to fail at this shot was not an option. I slammed it back and WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! FUEGO!

I was once at a party, hashed deep into a couch without a frame and set on the floor, when a big bearded guy set a shot alight and proceeded to splash it all down his chin and neck. I’d never seen someone’s face on fire before, and thankfully haven’t since. It’s ugly business; his beard burned immediately and then over the next month, during which he could not shave for fear of de-scabbing himself, the beard grew back.

Anyway, the good shot was Aguardiente, or fire-water. Typical Galician, apparently, and still distilled by common people in their houses. For some time now I’ve been on the hunt for absinthe here and am glad to have finally found a Spanish anise liquor. Anise is popular all over the world (at least the Old one) and so I’m setting off on a hunt for the best ones. Maybe videos will be necessary for this side-quest, because my face is priceless in the moment following ingestion. Everyone in the tavern was laughing when I cried out, ameliorating the atmosphere further. The “fire” remained alive in my esophagus for a few minutes and I felt warmed immediately. Having passed this way before, I knew that at this early time, if the train kept rolling, that I would see the end earlier than was planned for the group. One was enough.

According to Wikipedia, I must complete this list:

  • Absente
  • Absinthe
  • Aguardiente
  • Anyzowka
  • Arak
  • Becherovka
  • Chartreuse
  • Galliano
  • Herbsaint
  • Mastika
  • Ouzo
  • Passione Nera
  • Pastis
  • Pastis Henri Bardouin
  • Patxaran
  • Pernod Anise
  • Pernod Fils
  • Pernod Ricard
  • Pernod Łańcut
  • Raki (coming soon, in Istanbul! Also known as “Tiger’s Milk”)
  • Ricard Pastis
  • Sambuca
  • Sassolino
  • Tsipouro
  • Xtabentún

Well, that’s quite a list. Looks like I have my work cut out for me, and my liver, too. Nothing standard can ever happen when you’re drinking these non-standard drinks, so I’ll be posting results here under the tag “Anise Adventures”. Of particular interest to me is the “Ouzo effect”, where with a little water, the ethanol in some of these drinks destabilizes (loaches) and the drink becomes milky in color. Mmm, chemical reactions.


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