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ComeUndone

Non-alcoholic aperitif?

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I have a few questions about ordering aperitifs at fancy restaurants. I will be dining at a couple of 3-star and 2-star restaurants in my upcoming trip to Paris. I like my kir as much as anybody but downing alcoholic drinks on an empty stomach really doesn't agree with me. What are some non-alcoholic aperitifs that I can choose from and which would not seem out of place?

Your help will be much appreciated!


Candy Wong

"With a name like Candy, I think I'm destined to make dessert."

Want to know more? Read all about me in my blog.

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I have a few questions about ordering aperitifs at fancy restaurants. I will be dining at a couple of 3-star and 2-star restaurants in my upcoming trip to Paris. I like my kir as much as anybody but downing alcoholic drinks on an empty stomach really doesn't agree with me. What are some non-alcoholic aperitifs that I can choose from and which would not seem out of place?

Your help will be much appreciated!

I see lots of businessmen ordering tomato juice in a nice place.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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You could order a "faux-Mosa" - OJ and club soda in a champagne flute.

Or as John suggested a "Bloody Shame", spicy tomato juice with no vodka.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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To have something non sweet and light; closer to a cocktail--

club soda and bitters

(there is alcohol in the bitters, but such a small amount of bitters is used that it shouldn't upset your stomach).


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I see lots of businessmen ordering tomato juice in a nice place.

Are you sure those aren't bloody marys?

I have no problem just passing on the aperitifs and asking for the wine list with the menu, especially on an empty stomach.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Bux is right, you are not obligated to take the aperetif, but I'd also like to point out that in the French formula, this is a course that includes food. If you do take an apero, you'll be served a special plate of bites to eat before you drink whatever you've ordered. No proper establishment would let you have a drink on an empty stomach.

If for some other reason you still want to stay non-alcoholic in your aperetif, you can ask the waiter if he has any non-alcoholic recommendation, and he might have some nice ideas of things for you to try. Otherwise I would probably stick to something simple like a kind of juice, or schweppes.

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Are you sure those aren't bloody marys?

I have no problem just passing on the aperitifs and asking for the wine list with the menu, especially on an empty stomach.

You know Bux, I almost put that caution in the post but then thought it might be churlish; maybe the suits really do just drink spicy tomato juice,


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I'd never think someone churlish because they suggested I wanted, or needed, a drink. :biggrin: I remember a time, and place (America) when and where a glass of tomato juice was considered a first course in a certain type of white tablecloth restaurant. Other choices might have been fruit cocktail, aslo straight from a can. I suppose I overreact to the suggestion in rememberance.

I often enjoy a mildly alcoholic drink before dinner and like the idea of an aperitif when I'm in the mood.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I usually order a soda or perrier and cranberry juice. It looks like an alcholic drink and you don't have to make any excuses to anyone about why you aren't drinking or have people keep saying "Oh, you're not drinking"....where I live, if you're not drinking, you're not thinking is their motto, so they look at you like something's wrong with you or something. :unsure:

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In a ** or ***, I'd explain my desire and rely on their recommendations.

At home, I'd serve something like Sanbitter or Crodino with a slice of a carefully choosen lemon.

Another option (especially in summertime) is Airan, a mix of 1/1 yoghourt and ice water, with a bit salt and some basil as a extravagant variant.

A moscato raisin juice - maybe with some fruits (like a bowle) - could be an allusion to the Languedocien habit of drinking sweet Muscat or Ambré as aperitif.


Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Thank you all for your informative replies.


Candy Wong

"With a name like Candy, I think I'm destined to make dessert."

Want to know more? Read all about me in my blog.

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I usually order a soda or perrier and cranberry juice.

I wonder if restaurants in Paris are likely to have cranberry juice. I think the issue in Paris somewhat different than it might be elsewhere. Sometimes a fine restaurant offers an array of hors d'oeuvres, or "amuses" that really warrants a glass of something to go with it, but all too often, the proposal of an aperitif seems a shake down for a glass of something that's going to be far more expensive that the stuff you may choose to compliment the fine food. I suppose it also depends on one's budget, but I'd often prefer to put the money towards a better bottle of wine with the meal.
Lesson #10: How to spend less.

Simon suggests: not ordering orally given specials, not having an apéritif,


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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So somebody did read that review/note.

I thought almost every point Simon made would be a great topic for a thread. I just didn't have the time to start them.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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A very commonly ordered non-alcoholic apertif in France is a "Sirop" (The "p" is silent) with either water or club soda. Most restaurants have about 2 dozen Sirop flavors, which are basically thick sugar syrups with flavoring. The bright colors make for an attractive drink. And the French are not that big on liquor anyway, everything revolves around the wine!!

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Why didn't anyone just mention... mineral water? I know it may sound a bit too obvious (and snob, perhaps?), but with a slice of lime and a couple of ice cubes, who needs more? It helps preparing your stomach for a nice 2 or 3 star meal, by keeping your palate as "pure" and "neutral" as possible.


"Mais moi non plus, j'ai pas faim! En v'là, une excuse!..."

(Jean-Pierre Marielle)

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