Herbsaint is a green liqueur that remains notorious not only for its deep, flavorful notes but also for its richness in history. Heavy in the essence of star anise and close in relation to black licorice, Herbsaint remains a staple for bartenders and liqueur enthusiasts alike to craft the perfect cocktail.
This liqueur is a substitute for absinthe, as it was a banned substance within the United States at that time. Due to its high reputation within the world of mixed drinks, it may at times become spare due to demand or even steep prices. In this case, this is a curated list of exceptional alternatives to this classic mixer.
What is Herbsaint Liqueur?
The history of Herbsaint Liqueur begins with J. Marion Legendre. He was an apothecary who learned how to craft absinthe in 1930s France during World War I. Absinthe’s main ingredient, Artemisia absinthium, is a mildly poisonous plant that was grown to be purposed for alcoholic beverages.
After his return to the United States, in New Orleans, Legendre was able to present an absinthe substitute without this (previously) banned liqueur’s main ingredient. Formerly known as “Legendre Absinthe”, the name was changed to Herbsaint due to the Federal Alcohol Administration.
Later in 1948, Herbsaint Liqueur was sold to a company named Sazerac. After a brief recipe tweak in the 1970s, Sazerac reintroduced Lengendere’s original recipe to the world in 2010.
It is now more widely known as the fundamental element of the acclaimed Sazerac cocktail.
Herbsaint Liqueur Used in Recipes
Being a mixer with this flexibility allows it to be designed according to different atmospheres and specially curated events. The most popular cocktail remains to be the Sazerac cocktail, whose main ingredients include a sugar cube, rye whiskey, and of course, Herbsaint liqueur.
Check out the six best Herbsaint substitutes below:
White wine can be used in a number of cocktail and food recipes due to its mildly sweet flavor. Like Herbsaint, its versatility grants its ability to be chosen as a substitute in many cuisines.
This substitute can be used in dishes such as pasta, seafood, and also certain desserts. White wine is upheld in French cuisine culture, as its delicate notes lay the foundation for great flavoring.
Some known white wine cocktails include the Bicicletta, White Wine Spritzers (that comes in varied flavors), Albarino Mint Julep, Front Porch Swing, St. Germain Cocktail, Sauvignon Blanc Punch, and White Sangria. Many of the cocktails listed are light, bubbly, and perfect to cool oneself on a sunny day.
A white wine’s ABV (alcohol by volume) can easily range from five to fourteen percent.
Pernod Anise Liqueur
Pernod is a 19th century French liqueur containing an anise-licorice-like flavoring, similar to Herbsaint. Also known as the successor to the absinthe recipe, Pernod included fennel, veronica, coriander, camomille, and other plants, herbs, and spices.
There is a similar history in which this liqueur experienced prohibition and banning. The Pernod Fils company was, fortunately, able to resurrect their product by using wormwood to replace the anise flavoring that absinthe provided.
This liqueur is traditionally associated with seafood cuisines such as fish sauces, fish stews, and oysters. In a mixed drink, when water is added, Pernod becomes an opaque, milky substance that tastes less bitter than it would on its own.
The chill also allows the anise flavoring to become more potent and enjoyable to the consumer. Due to Pernod not including the star anise nor liquorice ingredient, it aids towards producing a sharper, less bitter taste.
Some known cocktail recipes that use Pernod include the Pernod-Bourbon Spritz, the Peking cocktail, and the French Pearl cocktail. This liqueur contains an alcohol volume of forty percent.
Ricard Pastis de Marseille
Originating from France, Ricard Pastis is considered to be the first pastis to become commercialized and was an iconic staple within the French mixing culture.
It is considered to be the most famous anise liqueur in the world, and continues to gain popularity in the United States. In the early 1930s of Marseille, Paul Ricard cultivated his formula by using aniseed essence amongst other flavorful plants and herbs.
This liqueur also contains the same sugary, licorice anise flavoring which allows it to be a sufficient substitute for Herbsaint. However, Ricard pastis is also a liqueur that has a bolder and more bitter taste compared to other pastis counterparts within the industry.
When it comes to enjoying Ricard Pastis, it is recommended to serve this liqueur cold over ice. This will allow the full fragrance and flavor of the anise to be released and enjoyed. There are also some juices such as mango, cranberry and strawberry in combination with mint, grapefruit or pomegranate that will further dictate and enhance the tasting experience of Ricard Pastis.
This liqueur’s alcohol volume typically ranges from fourty to forty-five percent. A few known drink recipes using Ricard Pastis include the traditional Ricard cocktail and the Mauresque cocktail.
Marie Brizard Anisette
Marie Brizard Anisette Liqueur was produced in 1755 by Mademoiselle Marie Brizard and her nephew Jean Baptiste Roger.
They were committed to cultivating absinthe with natural flavoring rather than chemicals or synthetics like some other cheaper products. Their main ingredient for this absinthe, green anise, was sourced from the rich Spanish soils of Andalusia.
This liqueur still has the same sweet licorice taste as Herbsaint does, and also has thirteen additional herbs that enhance the fresh flavoring of the absinthe.
Some recommended cocktails to make with Marie Brizard Anisette include Blue Point, Anisette Tonic, Marie Cooler, and Marie Zest. There are also some food recipes that work well with this absinthe, some of which includes hot chocolates, black forest cakes, and french toasts.
This liqueur’s alcohol by volume content is thirty-nine percent.
Pastis 51 is a liqueur that originated from Marseille, France and was created by the Pernod company in 1951. This product was cultivated following the anise-based prohibitions and quickly became a rising favorite within the liqueur industry.
This pastis is slightly more unique than the other pastis listed, as it was infused with Chinese star anise, African Kola nut, and licorice root amongst its main ingredients. This combination allows it to have a more light, refreshing and strong licorice taste compared to other pastis on the market.
A known cocktail containing Pastis 51 is called the Perroquet, which contains mint, ice and the liqueur itself. Pastis 51 also contains an alcohol volume of forty-five percent.
As a pastis, this particular brand will pair fairly well with fish and other seafood cuisines, as well as eggs and chicken. Furthermore, this brand and other pastis mentioned will express their unique flavoring depending on how much or little water is mixed into the drink.
This is where a consumer or bartender can control how the drink will end up tasting. The more water within the recipe, the more refreshing it will be to those who drink it.
Casanis Pastis is a bold tasting liqueur that was produced by Emmanuel Casablanca in 1925 Corsica, and later transferred to Marseille.
This anise-liquorice flavoring was also an infused main ingredient for its cultivation, which is why it made the list as an appropriate Herbsaint alternative. This yellow colored liqueur is also fully encompassed with many fresh floral notes from other spices, plants, green aniseed and star anise.
Casanis Pastis contains an alcohol volume percentage of forty-five percent. Casanis (and also other pastis) can be enjoyed without water added to the drink. Ultimately this will leave a very strong taste, but it can also provide a soothing to the stomach almost like a medicine.
Though it is better known as a yellow anise, this liqueur amongst others can also be shaded blue using blue curaçao or even pink by using red fruit extracts. A full glass of pastis (regardless of brand) is similar in alcohol content to a beer or a glass of red wine, and requires moderation for full enjoyment.
Lastly, a cocktail that specifically uses Casanis Pastis liqueur as its main ingredient is called Casa on the Beach.
There are quite a few alternatives to the Herbsaint Liqueur, all of which have a similar base with unique origins and flavorful finishes. All of the liqueurs mentioned above are as rich in history as they are in aroma and essence.
This list is to help not feel restricted to a particular brand of flavor or price range, and to encourage widening the cocktail mixing palette.
All of these options contain the foundation of mild sweetness, which is able to flow into unique tasting experiences depending on other mixed ingredients and varying degrees of temperature.
Some of these liqueur options can be paired exquisitely with different cuisines, and also stand as its own ingredient to food recipes. In order to discover more pastis and absinthe alternatives, visit la maison du pastis in Marseille, which currently lists well over fifty unique variations.
When creating cocktails from the comfort of home or craving a particular taste on a night out, it’s best to know which delicious combinations will grant the finest tasting experience.