Pastis is an anise flavored spirit originally made in the southern part of France, around the town of Marseille. After the ban on absinthe and other high proof spirits in France during the early part of the 20th century, producers turned to other anise flavored spirits. Instead of using wormwood and green anise and fennel, as in absinthe, star anise and licorice root became the predominate flavors.
Like absinthe, pastis is diluted with water before drinking, and like absinthe, it louches, or turns milky with the addition. Unlike absinthe, pastis is bottled at a much lower proof — around 40-45, where absinthe is typically over 110. Sugar is also added to pastis, where is it not to absinthe.
While there are other anise flavored spirits on the market (ouzo from Greece, arak or raki from the Middle East, and Herbsaint from New Orleans), pastis is almost always associated with the southern part of France. Two of the most famous producers are Ricard and Pernod, but Henri Baudoin and Prado are also well known.