Anisette

Anisette

I grew up with Marie Brizard. That was my father’s go-to brand of anisette. The bottle was on the table  after every dinner to sweeten our expresso. It was a low enough  proof so I got to use some in my coffee too. I don’t remember too many people drinking it straight. Anisette is very sweet. Maybe an old lady who needed a drink for a toast and didn’t want anything too strong would have some. Sometimes I’d get a sip of it in a cordial glass if I had a cough or sore throat.

 

marie-brizard-extra-fino-1l

Although some people think it’s main ingredient is liquorice root, anisette is made by macerating the seeds of the anis plant in a neutral spirit. I have an anis hyssop on my balcony (see the heading photo) but I’ve never tried to gather the seeds. A friend recently suggested that I can make a passable anisette using its leaves by filling a jar have full with them, then filling it with vodka. Strain it after a month, and add sugar syrup to taste. I may try that when my plant is bigger toward the end of the summer.

Anis Seeds
Anis Seeds

My Aunt Lena use to make her own anisette with anis essence she’d get from a local pastry shop. That’s a main ingredient in anisette biscotti so all the pastry shops had it. The essence would be added to black market grain alcohol and sugar syrup. She’d mix it in a big pot on her kitchen table. I remember being small enough to stand on the table to stir it with a long wooden spoon.

Anise Biscotti
Anisette Biscotti

When I was growing up, the only time I ever saw sambuca was if someone brought a bottle back from Italy. It wasn’t imported to the US back then. And as much as it tastes like anisette, sambuca is made from the elder berry plant. It’s a higher proof and is now much more common here than anisette.

anisette and coffee

I still generally use Marie Brizard but when it’s available I buy Anis del Mono, a Spanish brand. I like the monkey on the label. There are other anis flavored liquors made around the Mediterranean: Pernod, raki, ouzo and anazone but anisette is the best for sweetening expresso.

 

anisette bottles

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