Posts Tagged ‘Aperitif’

*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.

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*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed them in The Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

A few nights ago, I suffered a truly awful anxiety dream—vicious even, because it twisted one of my very favorite activities—cocktailing with people I respect and experimenting with new flavors—into a nightmare.

The scene: a crowded auditorium packed to the gills with some of the brightest stars in the mixological galaxy. Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff is there, as is Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh and Imbibe! author and my personal hero, David Wondrich, as well as bar superstars from both coasts and every city in between. They’re here for a cocktail contest in which I am competing. I’m standing above them on a very high stage, flanked to my left by the late Jerry Thomas, and to my right by—who else?—Tom Cruise from the movie Cocktail, circa 1988.

The challenge: Invent a delectable cocktail in under five minutes using nothing more than the mysterious contents of a velvet drawstring bag that sat in the center of each bartender’s station. A pistol is fired, signaling the start of the cocktail competition, and as Jerry Thomas and Tom Cruise tear into their velvet bags and start mixing … I freeze.

My heart pounds, my palms sweat, my ears start ringing. To my left, Jerry Thomas is tossing a stream of liquid between two glasses in an arc high above his head, somehow not spilling a drop. To my right, Tom Cruise is gyrating and flipping bottles in time with the music, which is of course “Hippy Hippy Shake.” A smiling Katie Holmes looks on. The crowd roars, chanting “LU-PEC, LU-PEC.” And I can’t move.

I awoke from this terrible scene with a start, and an ocean of relief washed over me when I realized it was just a dream. The chances that I’ll ever be mixing up drinks alongside a 1988 Tom Cruise from Cocktail and Jerry Thomas, who died in 1885, are slim. However, I can sleep soundly knowing if that situation ever did come to pass, I have several classic cocktail-making patterns up my sleeve that would help me rise to the occasion, such as this one, for a delightful aperitif cocktail. You may recognize it as the basic template (minus the barspoon of liqueur) for both the martini and the Manhattan, two drinks that have stood the test of time and are still popular among modern drinkers over a century after their birth. Fill in the blanks and give it a spin at home. After all, generations of drinkers can’t be wrong.


Adapted from BarSmarts

2 oz high-proof base spirit
1 oz low-proof aperitif (vermouth, Lillet, Aperol, etc.) or fortified wine (a light wine, such as dry sherry, works well with white spirits; heavier wines, such as port, work well with brown spirits)
1 bar spoon liqueur (for accent, a great way to play around with more pungent herbal liqueurs)
2 dashes bitters (use orange or fruit bitters for lighter drinks; angostura, Peychaud’s or other aromatic bitters for heavier ones)

Stir ingredients over ice in a mixing glass; strain into the glass of your choice.


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