Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
It’s always good to name things after
And for anyone who ever spent any time in the south of France the name of Paul Ricard will forever be associated with high octane afternoons of ice, anise and cloudy glasses as well as memories.
He, of course, is the “Ricard” of Pastis fame. That infamous French aniseed aperitif consumed all over the Mediterranean and beyond. Less known in the USA than its former competitor (and now sister brand) Pernod perhaps, but for the aficionados among us Ricard was and is “le top”.
Paul Ricard was born in 1909 in Sainte-Marthe, which was then but a small village north of Marseille. Passionate about chemistry and design, he enrolled in the Beaux-Arts (Academy of Fine Arts). At the age of 17, this son of a wine merchant learned the trade at his father’s side. Going from café to café, rubbing elbows with customers, he was inspired to invent his “own” pastis. Indeed, in Marseille in the 1930s, every bar owner made his own anise-based liqueur. But the inconsistent taste and cloying sweetness of the mixtures wasn’t pleasing to connoisseurs. Paul Ricard was determined to find the “ideal” formula.
|For over a year, he tested countless recipes. Every night in a make-shift laboratory, the young man would macerate fennel, aniseed and Provençal herbs, distilling, filtering, etc. His aim: to find the perfect flavor, one that captured the pure, fresh taste of aniseed. Finally, in 1932, his original recipe was born. Paul Ricard gave it his own name, ‘Ricard’, and set it apart it from all competitors by defining it as “the true Pastis of Marseille”.The quality and fresh taste of his aperitif are the result of this skilful (and secret) blend of aniseed, liquorice and aromatic herbs. Today, Ricard is the no. 1 anise-based spirit in the world.Paul also happened to have a love of motor racing. And so he took some of the oodles of loot he accrued from peddling high end moonshine to the masses and built a racetrack just north of Marseille. It opened in 1969 to much applause. The most modern, safest, and coolest track in its day. He had applied the same attention to detail and desire for perfection to the track as he had his anise. And the fact that it made for winter testing in the sun was all the better.|