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Difference Between Pastis and Ricard

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The main difference between Pastis and Ricard is that Pastis is the name of an alcoholic drink while Ricard is the name of a brand of Pastis.

Be careful not to confuse "pastis" and "Pastis 51": like Ricard, Pastis 51 is the name of a Pastis brand. Today, these two brands are owned by the same French company, Pernod-Ricard.

If we compare a glass of Ricard to a glass of Pastis 51, we can see that Ricard has a more pronounced licorice taste than Pastis 51. The latter is a little more aniseed than Ricard. This is the main difference between Pastis 51 and Ricard but this distinction is very subtle to perceive, even for pastis lovers.

Comparative Table: Ricard Vs Pastis 51

CharacteristicsRicardPastis 51
TasteStronger in liquoriceLess aniseed
Degrees of alcohol45°45°
ColorCloudy yellowCloudy yellow
Date of creation19321951
Calories for 20ml50 kcal51 kcal
Is the name "Pastis de Marseille" ?YesYes
Market share of aniseed-flavored drinks in France43,4%9,7%
Place(s) of productionLille, Marseille, BordeauxMarseille

What is Pastis?

Pastis is an alcoholic drink flavored with anise and licorice. It is served like a syrup: for 2 volumes of pastis, you can put 10 volumes of water with ice cubes (according to the "51 Classique" of Pastis 51).

The name "pastis" is a loan from the Provençal Occitan "pastis" which means "mixture". In familiar terms, one can also speak about "pastaga".

The alcohol content of pastis starts at 40 degrees and a pastis can be called "pastis de Marseille" at 45 degrees of alcohol.

Pastis 51 is the brand name of a distilled pastis which is 45 degrees of alcohol.

pastis 51
Bottle and glass of Pastis 51

Some people drink it neat, but it is much better with water and ice. Created in 1951 by the company Pernod, the brand "Pastis 51" belongs today to the company "Pernod Ricard" which was born from the fusion between Pernod and Ricard in December 1975.

What is Ricard?

Ricard is a French brand of pastis made with aniseed, licorice, and other spices. It was created in 1932 by Paul Ricard who wanted to bottle his vision of the perfect aniseed drink. He wanted his drink to be colorful, refreshing, yet intense in taste.

ricard glass bottle
Ricard bottle and glass

Today, Ricard is one of the most popular pastis brands in France. The original Ricard recipe was created by Paul Ricard in 1932 and has not changed since its creation. The recipe includes aniseed and licorice root extracts.

In 1951, a law forbids the advertising of aniseed products in France and Ricard starts to promote its pastis thanks to salesmen who distribute derivative products in all of France. Among these products, we can find glasses, carafes, ice cube trays but also bobs or deckchairs.

Difference between Pastis 51 and Ricard


Many people can't perceive the difference in taste between Pastis 51 and Ricard.

The star anise is more present in Pastis 51 than in Ricard. On the other hand, one feels more the strong taste of licorice in a glass of Ricard compared to a glass of Pastis 51. Moreover, the Ricard is thicker and heavier than the Pastis 51 which is more dry.


Like any alcohol, an overconsumption of Pastis 51 or Ricard can be harmful to your health. Pastis is a strong alcohol and it is even stronger than Vodka and Whisky. Indeed, for Ricard and Pastis 51, the degree of alcohol is 45°. Their consumption must thus be moderate. After several glasses of Ricard, some people have noticed that their throat is more "tense" than with Pastis 51.


The parent company of Pastis 51 and Ricard is called "Pernod-Ricard", but originally, these two brands were independent. Before their merger in 1975, Pastis 51 belonged to the company "Pernod" while Paul Ricard was the owner of "Ricard".

pernod ricard
Pernod Ricard Company

The History of Pastis

Symbol of sunshine, vacations, and pétanque, Pastis has been the joy of aperitifs for decades. Pastis has a long history!

Pastis means "the mixture" in Provençal Occitan. These aniseed-flavored mixtures were popularized following the banning of absinthe during the First World War in 1915. Between the two world wars in Provence and in France it is the frenzy: all the brands and the bars produce their own pastis.

pstis is famous in france
French pastis lovers

It is from 1932 that the real pastis as we know it today will be invented. Paul Ricard, son of a wine merchant, tried to create a blend that reflected his own vision of pastis: a colorful, thirst-quenching drink with a strong taste.

ricard paul
Paul Ricard

In 1932, at the age of 22, he launched his alcoholic drink: Ricard, the real pastis of Marseille. This pastis had an alcohol content of 40, the legal limit for alcoholic beverages.

But for Paul Ricard, his pastis is perfect at 45 degrees. He will therefore work until 1938 to raise the limit to 45 degrees. In 1938, it is accepted and Ricard becomes a very popular drink in France. Two years later, the war broke out, and the Vichy regime banned alcohol above 16 degrees. Ricard could no longer produce pastis, but still did so to supply the French resistance!

After the war, pastis is again authorized and a new brand, Pastis 51, becomes Ricard's main competitor. In 1975, the two brands merged to create the Pernault-Ricard group.

Today the recipe of pastis has hardly changed and this drink still represents the South of France !


Which is better: Pastis 51 or Ricard?

This is a question that angers many pastis lovers and yet there are two schools: the 51 pros and the Ricard pros. Although Ricard is much more popular than Pastis 51, when it comes to taste, the "best" will always be the one you like.

Is there licorice in Ricard and Pastis 51?

Very often, it is said that there is licorice in Ricard and not in Pastis 51. But it is completely false! There is also licorice in Pastis 51 as the label on the back of the bottle shows. What is true, however, is that there is more licorice in Ricard.

Are the composition of Ricard and Pastis 51 the same?

2 différences calories ricard pastis 51

It can be difficult to distinguish a glass of Ricard from a glass of Pastis 51, and yet the recipes are not exactly the same. However, the composition is practically the same, except for a few ingredients, as shown by the caloric intake of the two brands (50 kcal for Ricard and 51 kcal for Pastis 51).


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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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