Story and Paris photo by Manos Angelakis
Other photos courtesy of Raoul Beltrame and Crillon Importers, Ltd.

Crillon_Importers Product shot

A very pleasant blast-from-the-past was recently delivered to our office.

I have very fond memories of 2 alcoholic beverages that have been the mainstays of my misspent, according to my father, or very well spent, according to me, youth.

Les Deux Magots Bistro Paris

Pastis was the drink that I preferred during my time of living in Paris in the ‘60s. Pastis, is served at every bar and bistro in France and gets most of its taste from star anise; it is used as an aperitif similar to ouzo or arrack, but it’s a distilate from a blend of a number of herbs, with star anise and licorice being predominant, therefore it actually tastes more like absinthe than ouzo.

barbancourt 15 year

My other favorite beverage is rum. In the very late ‘70s, early ‘80s I had visited on numerous occasions Habitation Leclerc, a 5-star hotel in Port au Prince, Haiti. Habitation was part of the so called “champagne past” of the island, when Olivier Coquelin the owner and “master-of-ceremonies” of Hippopotamus, a famous disco at the time in New York City, decided to build two super deluxe hotels on the island; the above mentioned Habitation Leclerc comprised of groups of suites built around a number of swimming pools inside a walled, very large botanical garden near the center of Port au Prince, and Le Relais de L’ Empereur at Petit Guâve, a secluded cove on Haiti’s coast. Both properties were hosting the crème-de-la-crème of the international jet-set and the Rhum Barbancourt Reserve was the signature sipping drink for both.

The sample bottles were delivered from Crillon Importers, Ltd., a company that we have not heard from for quite a while. Crillon was founded by Michel P. Roux, the individual behind the very successful Absolut vodka introduction to the US market and the marketing and distribution of Stolichnaya Cristall Vodka, Grand Marnier, Bombay Gin and Bombay Sapphire Gin and the man who made absinthe's consumption legal again in the US in 2001.

Last year Crillon was bought by the Distilleries et Domaines de Provence, one of the oldest French distilleries, and it now imports and distributes such distinguished alcoholic beverages as:


Henri Bardouin Pastis “Grand Cru” made from a blend of 65 plants and spices.

Barbancourt Products Haiti

Rhum Barbancourt, Haiti. It was established in 1862 by Dupre’ Barbancourt, who immigrated to the island from the cognac-producing region of Charente in France and founded a rum distillery near Port au Prince. Crillon, imports four expressions of the Barbancourt: white, 3-year old, 8-year old, and 15-year Estate Reserve. The white is kept in stainless steel after distillation and sees no oak; the 3-year, 8-year and 15-year are aged in white Limousine oak barriques from France, in a Solera style of aging. We used to have the white and 3-year old as cocktail bases for Hurricanes, Frozen Daquiris, Piña Colada or Cuba Libre; the 8-year old was used for either cocktails or as a sipping rum and the 15-year old was definitely given the same respect as an aged Scottish single malt, sipped with only a splash of cold water or a single ice cube.

Pango Rhum, is an aged rum also made by Barbancourt, flavored with pineapple and mango; it is sweet and fruity with hints of spices and a short warm finish.

Magellan Gin and Tonic

Magellan Gin, was inspired by Ferdinand de Magellan’s world travels; it is an ultra-premium, blue-colored gin handcrafted in small batches in France.


Absinthe. Three expressions: the Grande Absente, Absente Refined and Absente Ordinaire are all handcrafted using the same ingredients as a century ago: Wormwood, anise, balm, mint and fennel. Absinthe can be enjoyed in the traditional way, the way Toulouse Lautrec or Vincent Van Gogh used to drink it, by placing a sugar cube on an Absinthe spoon and soaking it with Absente or by mixing it in a favorite cocktail, such as a Sazerac or Mojito.


RinQuinQuin (pronounced “ran-can-can”); a light, traditional peach apéritif, distilled in Provence. RinQuinQuin begins by infusing local sweet peaches and their leaves to a neutral spirit. It is then mixed with white wine, essential oil of citrus and sugar. The result is a mellow apéritif, bursting with fruity flavors. It can be drunk either straight with a couple ice cubes or as a cocktail, making with orange juice a Fuzzy Navel.


Finally Farigoule. Farigoule combines the herbal notes from the Provençal wild thyme, verbena and angelica, giving considerable length on the palate and a refreshing finish, with a memorable flavor.

The samples that were delivered to our office were the Pastis, the 8-year old Barbancourt and the RinQuinQuin. So, I had a glass of Pastis to start the evening and a shot of the Barbancourt with my after dinner coffee. And they certainly brought back fond memories from the days of my youth in Paris and Haiti.

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