Pastis was first commercialized by Paul Ricard in 1932 and enjoys substantial popularity in France, especially in the south-eastern regions of the country, mostly Marseilles. Pastis emerged some 17 years after the ban on absinthe, during a time when the French nation was still apprehensive of high-proof anise drinks in the wake of the absinthe debacle. The popularity of pastis may be attributable to a penchant for anise drinks that was cultivated by absinthe decades earlier, but is also part of an old tradition of Mediterranean anise liquors that includes sambuca, ouzo, arak, rakı, and mastika. The name “pastis” comes from Occitanpastís which means mash-up.
Pastis is normally diluted with water before drinking, generally five volumes of water for one volume of pastis, but often neat pastis is served together with a jug of water for the drinker to blend together according to preference. The resulting decrease in alcohol percentage causes some of the constituents to become insoluble, which changes the liqueur's appearance from dark transparent yellow to milky soft yellow, a phenomenon also present with absinthe and known as the ouzo effect. The drink is consumed cold and considered a refreshment for hot days. Ice cubes can be added (after the water, in order to avoid crystallization of the anethole in the pastis). However, many pastis drinkers decline to add ice, preferring to drink the beverage with cool spring water.