*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.
by Pink Lady + Bourbon Belle
Look at you, relaxing on the veranda or at the café in the early evening with a glass of something lightly sweet and lightly alcoholic. Stimulating your appetite with an aperitif? How civilized.
Aperitifs, or ‘aperitivos’ as Italians call them, were once a de rigeur start to a meal in France and Italy. These tipples were chosen for their appetite enhancing effects. As the members of LUPEC recently learned at the “Art of the Aperitif” seminar at Tales of the Cocktail (an annual convention for drink enthusiasts), many of the herbs and botanicals used in classic aperitif wines got their start in the pharmacy. Wormwood, the ingredient that gave vermouth its name (‘vermut’ in German), was once prescribed to cure stomach ailments; Gentian has similar medicinal purposes. Steeped in wine and fortified as vermouth, the bitter botanicals were believed to stimulate the palate, because the acid in the dry wine base kick-started salivation and, in turn, hunger.
Classic aperitif tipples include vermouth, Dubonnet, Kina Lillet (Lillet’s quinine-flavored, slightly bitter antecedent) and pastis or Absinthe. As it happens, all of these have potent and delicious application in cocktails. If it weren’t for vermouth, there would be no martini or Manhattan, of course. Without Absinthe or other anise liqueurs, how would you make a Sazerac? Aperitif-style beverages date back centuries in many cultures, but the practice of imbibing before gorging was particularly fashionable in Europe during the late 19th century, just as the cocktail was coming into its own.
As the cocktail enjoys a renaissance today, we think it’s only fair to give the aperitif another go. That’s why we’re planning to attend Brix by Night’s “Art of the Aperitif” class this Thursday. Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli will shake up cocktails made with modern classic liqueur St-Germain. Until then, we’ll conjure our appetites with one of these.
The Bohemian Cooler
1.5 oz. St. Germain
.75 oz. Old Overholt Rye
.75 oz. Lemon Juice.
Mount in a high ball, shake, add 2 oz. spicy ginger beer, add back ingredients and top with ice. No garnish.
The Art of the Aperitif will take place at Brix on Broad Thursday, August 12, 7 – 9 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person and include 5 cocktail tastes and traditional bar snacks. Space is limited. Call 617.542.2749, ext. 2 to make a reservation.