A true Mediterranean gem, anise has a long history of use as a spice and fragrance. It is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, cultivated for at least 4,000 years and native to the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. It’s found in nature in two different species: Anise and Star Anise.
Since the 12th century, the caravans were bringing anise from China to Alexandria, where the precious seeds were shipped to Genoa and Marseille, two major hubs of the Mediterranean Sea trade, before being sent to Paris to be assigned to Anysetiers who, after maceration and distillation of the resulting paste, used to manufacture drugs, ointments and liquids that they then catered to Kings, Lords and commoners.
Today it is becoming a fashionable craze to prepare many cocktails containing this refreshing ingredient. Its delicate yet intense flavor has some similarities to liquorice, fennel, and tarragon. Western cuisines have long used anise to flavor some dishes, drinks, and candies, and it has a truly international appeal. Anise in fact is used to flavor Middle Eastern arak, Colombian aguardiente, French spirits absinthe, anisette and pastis, Greek ouzo, Bulgarian mastika, German Jägermeister, Italian sambuca and… Varnelli first awarded in 1950 as “the best Italian dry anise,” Anise has also been used to flavor Dutch Brokmöpke, Peruvian and Spanish anís, Mexican Xtabentún and Turkish rakı. In the U.S., anise is used in some root beers.
“For the past generations, my family nurtured the culture and the production of anise and is proud to support the launch of the First Chapter of the Ordre International des Anysetiers,” says Ms. Varnelli, who is also a Member of The Ordre International des Anysetiers. “Its mission will be close to the one of the masters Anysetiers, who valued international friendship, cultural and fraternal solidarity towards others. Mr. Varanelli has stated, “I also find significant that the first American Chapter will be under the auspices of the Commanderie of Liguria, the Region that gave birth to Christopher Columbus: a pleasant historical coincidence!”
Where to learn more:
As part of the “spirited” presentations of the Tales of the Cocktail festival, Distilleria Varnelli cordially invites you to the event “Anise: The Mediterranean Treasure” on Saturday July 28, from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Queen Anne Ballroom, Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, LA. The seminar offers a rare occasion to compare different Mediterranean anises, neat and in preparation: Varnelli, as the best Italian dry anise, ouzo, arak, raki, anisado, and anisette. Mixologist Francesco Lafranconi – winner of the TOC 2009 Best Presenter Award- and Orietta Maria Varnelli, CEO of Distilleria Varnelli S.p.a., will transport attendees through an incredible historical and cultural journey, including an exclusive tasting of anise-based Varnelli’s liqueurs and aperitifs. Renowned mixologists from London, Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown, will bring their experience to the event as well.
The program will include also a short yet suggestive cultural presentation about the FIRST American Chapter of the Ordre International des Anysetiers, with Members in Medieval attire that will revive the legend and traditions of the ancient guild of Anysetiers, founded in 1263 in France. Members of the Louisiana Bailliage include Francesco Lanfranconi, who will lead the Chapter as Bailli, Tales of the Cocktail’s founders Ann and Paul Tuennerman, Liz Williams (Chair of Southern Food and Beverage Museum in NOLA), Laura and Chris McMillan of the Museum of American Cocktails – MOTAC, journalists Camper English and Brenda Maitland among others.
For additional information about Distilleria Varnelli please visit: www.varnelli.it.
Photo credit: Rocktail Culture