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Aperitifs/Aperitivi and the Pre-Meal Drink


evilhomer
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Given the three recent experiences of mixing a negroni that knocked my socks off, reading the cocktails before dinner thread and searching the forum (unsuccesfully) for an existing thread I have some questions about the myriad drinks which seem most appropriate before a meal.

While martinis and their ilk are of course imbibed before many a meal, I'm thinking more specifically of the bitter beverages which i've seen lots of in italy (campari and occasionally cynar are all that's available at the local lcbo though) and I understand the french have plenty of their own apetite stimulating beverages.

firstly - what are these drinks. grain alcohol infused with various herbs and spices? they do seem to constitute their own category of drink but I can't quite discern its boundaries.

secondly - are there some other resources, online or otherwise, which deal comprehensively with this subject. A row of two dozen foreign bottles can be an (enjoyably) overwhelming experience so as we prepare to head overseas again I'd like to prime myself a bit more thoroughly.

finally - what are your personal faves. do you make them at home or just enjoy them at fine restaurants. are they available here, ordered online, brought back in your suitcases?

"There never was an apple, according to Adam, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it"

-Neil Gaiman

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of course you can't

where is it available?

http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpde...php?prodid=1046

Nice to see some attention for this product from Padua -- which, I am given to understand, is a great place to go if you want to wive it wealthily (with apologies to Cole Porter).

UK delivery only - they have a rather serious selection there though. (the drink shop, not the UK, although I'm sure they're not too shabby either)

"There never was an apple, according to Adam, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it"

-Neil Gaiman

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. . . .  and I understand the french have plenty of their own apetite stimulating beverages.

. . .

And a lot of what the French drink as an aperitif is sweet, not bitter. Kir, the popular Burgundian cocktail is dry white wine (preferably petit chablis or aligote) with a spoonful of sweet creme de cassis. Other variations exist with other liqueurs and the royale versions with champagne. Muscat, a vin doux natural which in France signifies one whose fermentation was stopped with a dosage of alcohol, is as often served as an aperitif as it is with dessert. In the south, I see large bottles of cheap muscat from the Languedoc and from as far away as Greece, sold for aperitif, but some of the better off dry, semi-dry and sweet wines are also served as aperitifs. Pastis is fairly sweet.

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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From my understanding (a few French friends and the book by Georgeanne Brennan, Aperitif : Stylish Drinks and Recipes

for the Cocktail hour) there are quite a few homemade concotions that start with a cheap white or red wine and are then infused with fruits, fruit tree leaves or herbs, some sugar is added, and are then fortified with something with a higher alcohol. They're sweet but complex, and some are even bitter. I was facinated with the idea of using cherry leaves in red wine.

regards,

trillium

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although tame and maybe boring we are never without Lillet blanc in our house. It is my go to apero. Friends of mine in paris like Pastis and also vermouth blanc before meals.

Oh, yeah-- I like white vermouth on the rocks with a lemon twist.

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Given the three recent experiences of mixing a negroni that knocked my socks off, reading the cocktails before dinner thread and searching the forum (unsuccesfully) for an existing thread I have some questions about the myriad drinks which seem most appropriate before a meal.

...

If you like negronis, you may also appreciate an americano. This is basically a negroni without the gin and is typically served on the rocks. It's a nice alternative when you may want a less strong aperitif.

"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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watered down espresso

gin-less cocktails

I can't help but wonder is 'Americano' isn't something of a diminutive term

"There never was an apple, according to Adam, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it"

-Neil Gaiman

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watered down espresso

gin-less cocktails

I can't help but wonder is 'Americano' isn't something of a diminutive term

:laugh:

Could be; but Campari americano's can be a nice thing, closer to a French-style aperitif than an American cocktail.

This background information intimates that the Americano combination may have come before the Negroni: click

Italians aren't much into cocktails. I'm not saying my paisans don't drink-it's that they usually favor aperitifs like Campari before dinner, rather than a Manhattan. So, it's not surprising that the first real Italian cocktail combined Campari with sweet vermouth and soda water.

History dates this combination to the early 1860s in Florence, where Gaspare Campari, the creator of the eponymous aperitif, had a very fashionable bar and wanted customers to taste his bitter concoction of herbs, spices, bark and fruit peels. During Prohibition, the Italians noticed that their alcohol-deprived American visitors favored this drink, and, delivering a backhanded compliment, they dubbed it the Americano.

Edited by ludja (log)

"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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so i tried this americano but with cynar instead of campari

just 1:1 sweet vermouth and cynar. topped up with some soda water. it needed a few dashes of angostura to balance out, a nice simple prelude of a drink.

They had some other amari's at the liquor store (montenegro was the only one i recognized) alongside jaegermeister, unicum and alpenbitter. also a luxardo amari and luxardo fernet - the world of bitters is indeed vast.

"There never was an apple, according to Adam, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it"

-Neil Gaiman

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From my understanding (a few French friends and the book by Georgeanne Brennan, Aperitif : Stylish Drinks and Recipes 

for the Cocktail hour) there are quite a few homemade concotions that start with a cheap white or red wine and are then infused with fruits, fruit tree leaves or herbs, some sugar is added, and are then fortified with something with a higher alcohol.  They're sweet but complex, and some are even bitter.  I was facinated with the idea of using cherry leaves in red wine.

regards,

trillium

Just finished bottling one of those a couple of weeks ago. Vin de Pamplemousse, from the Chez Panisse Fruit cookbook. White wine and vodka infused with grapefruit, blood orange, lemon, spices, and a few other odds and ends. Makes for a sweet-sour-bitter aperitif with a lovely pink color. Really nice stuff.

Mike

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Made Amarina cocktails from the Babbo cookbook last night. They are a nice festive before dinner drink whose ingredients are a touch of sugar, bitters, limoncello, and Prosecco.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Just finished bottling one of those a couple of weeks ago. Vin de Pamplemousse, from the Chez Panisse Fruit cookbook. White wine and vodka infused with grapefruit, blood orange, lemon, spices, and a few other odds and ends. Makes for a sweet-sour-bitter aperitif with a lovely pink color. Really nice stuff.

Mike

You'll get addicted to it, I'll bet. I make one with bitter oranges, brandy and brown sugar that we eye anxiously all summer to make sure we're not running out before the weather cools down. I love a little glass of it over ice while I'm getting dinner together.

regards,

trillium

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trillium - how do you go about producing that. are the fruits treated in any way or just put whole in a jar, covered with brandy and sugar. how much brown sugar? (i'm sure this varies with fruit, liquor and tastes, but what order of magnitude)

This could be an interesting use of bergamot if a balance could be struck with the sugar.

"There never was an apple, according to Adam, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it"

-Neil Gaiman

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trillium - how do you go about producing that. are the fruits treated in any way or just put whole in a jar, covered with brandy and sugar.  how much brown sugar? (i'm sure this varies with fruit, liquor and tastes, but what order of magnitude)

This could be an interesting use of bergamot if a balance could be struck with the sugar.

Sorry, I wasn't quite clear. I make a vin d'orange similiarly to the vin de pamplemousse, but I use sour oranges, for the fortifying part I use brandy, and for sweetner I use brown sugar. I've thought about making one with bergamot too, but I ran out of vessels. I use 1 kilo of sour oranges, sliced, 500 ml brandy, 500 g sugar (we like it on the tart side), a vanilla pod and around 5.5 bottles of white wine. If I happen to have any orange leaves I throw those in too. I let it sit for 3 or 4 months and then bottle it. It doesn't age well, unlike the vin de noix, you're supposed to drink it that summer.

regards,

trillium

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Just finished bottling one of those a couple of weeks ago. Vin de Pamplemousse, from the Chez Panisse Fruit cookbook. White wine and vodka infused with grapefruit, blood orange, lemon, spices, and a few other odds and ends. Makes for a sweet-sour-bitter aperitif with a lovely pink color. Really nice stuff.

Mike

You'll get addicted to it, I'll bet. I make one with bitter oranges, brandy and brown sugar that we eye anxiously all summer to make sure we're not running out before the weather cools down. I love a little glass of it over ice while I'm getting dinner together.

regards,

trillium

I think I'm already displaying unhealthy tendencies. I made a half batch last year and loved it. I made a double batch this year (4 times as much) thinking that I might give some away. Now that I've started drinking it, though, I find I'm greedily hoarding it all for myself!

Mike

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. . .  and I understand the french have plenty of their own apetite stimulating beverages.

firstly - what are these drinks.  grain alcohol infused with various herbs and spices?

My favorite aperitif is a petit punch which is a very simple cocktail. A small slice off the side of a lime, about the size of 50 cent piece, a couple of ml of sugar cane syrup and a couple of ounces of white rhum agricole. Add crushed ice and stir as the ice melts and the flavor of the rhum evolves and the side of the glass frosts up.

In many places in France, and everywhere in the islands, this is the first drink of the day and a great aperitif.

Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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  • 1 year later...

inspired by the homemade limoncello thread which recently rose to the top again I wanted to post a new thread about homemade aperitifs, or "vins maison" before a third search brought up this thread.

I just recently purchased the Aperitif book by Georgeann Brennan and found it quite interesting, especially for the price, on ecookbooks.com when I ordered a bunch of other great books for a song. I actually assembled a half-batch of Vin Marquis which has been macerating for about a week now and was hoping to revive a discussion of homemade aperitifs to get some insight into what else I can start up. With as much time and patience that is necessary to make these right, and for the fact that oranges and citrus abound in the markets, now really is the time to start the infusions to be ready by summertime.

I can't wait to see the fruits of waiting when I finally bottle and cork this in february, but I need more ideas for things to make! I am thinking of bottling these in 375ml icewine style bottles and corking them either with fullsize corks using a corker or just some "t-corks" like these. Will I have problems with longevity if I only use tasting corks? Hopefully I can at least use this method for liqueurs such as limoncello..

Cheers

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  • 5 years later...

Hmmm... five years since the last post in this topic, so I'm wondering if anyone has been making artisanal vermouths or other aperitifs lately. If so, would you be willing to share pointers or recipes? I've been making an assortment of liqueurs for home use for a few years now but haven't tried my hand at aperitifs yet. That needs to change and soon; now that the weather has warmed up, we're going through a fair quantity of Cocci Americano in the evenings lately and I can't find a source for it here in northeast Ohio.

I also recently tasted a sample of Johnny Monis' house-made vermouth at Little Serow in DC (thanks Jill!) and am suffering from vermouth envy.

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