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Jan 21, 2013 09:42 PM

Please discuss the nuances between Pernod/Arak/Ouzo

I am seldom on this board, so apologies if my search was unsuccessful.

I was at a Chow-gathering recently and we were discussing the COTM results for Jerusalem. One recipe, chicken with clementines and fennel, calls for arak but lists the other two as acceptable substitutions. I inquired if anyone could address how the three differed and the pluses/minuses between them. No one was able to. ( I must say I opted for the ouzo largely because it was cheapest. I was pleased with the result but would like to educate myself further!)

I appeal to this board for edification please!

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    1. re: byrd

      Thank you! The link is fantastic.

    2. First, they are similar concepts of anise flavored drinks from different parts of Europe and the Middle East. Arak is from Lebanon, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries and often has the highest proof of the three; it is generally unsweetened. Ouzo is very similar but made in Greece; often at a lower proof than Arak (80-100 proof). Pernod is the oddball here. This French liqueur is basically a sweetened absinthe substitute (no wormwood) and is a proprietary product -- there are other pastis but only one Pernod. It's at 80 proof, has sugar, and is much more complex than anise and has a few dozen other botanical notes in there. There is also Pernod Absinthe which returned to the market in 2008 after being gone since first decade or two of the 20th century due to the absinthe ban; however, it is usually referred to as Pernod Absinthe, not Pernod. It has a higher proof and no sugar content, but a similarly complex flavor profile as the pastis form.

      All three are generally diluted before drinking often with ice water. All three will louche when they hit a lower proof and the alcohol soluble flavorants crash out of solution and donate a white cloudiness to the drink.

      1. Hey, so I was going to try the arak/clementine dish in the Jerusalem cookbook. Was it good? I've been comparing the price between Arak and Ouzo and it's only $20 vs $15 so I might spring for the Ouzo.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jfrommel

          It was quite good. The Home Cooking board had many people try it on last months Cookbook of the Month thread.

          Personally I liked the lemons and fennel better than the chicken. But the chicken was very good too!

          1. re: meatn3

            Made it and loved it. Loved the chicken, fennel and clementines. Most flavorful meal I've eaten in a long time. Glad I bought the Anak -- totally worth it.

        2. Where do I purchase the Arak???

          1. If I don't like the flavor of Anise should I skip the Jerusalem Chicken with Clementines dish?

            2 Replies
            1. re: mrsbrite

              The anise flavor is not front and center. It melds with the other flavors and the resulting fusion is really wonderful. No one I've served it to had any idea an anise flavored ingredient was included. If you are on the fence I'd make without and half with the arak, etc.
              Without it will still be a nice dish but with it is exceptional.

              1. re: mrsbrite

                The anise is a very mild undertone but -- I agree -- without it, it will be good and certainly worth making; but with it, it's outstanding. The anise is one of those things that people will all say "There's some thing in there . . . what is it?" but few if any will be able to say, "Oh. You added Arak." Or Ouzo or Pernod or . . .