For some, the apéritif never left but far too many simply leap for the full-octane drink right out of the blocks. I invite you to slow down and savor life with a refreshing and contemplative apéritif – then you can go wild.
In simple terms an apéritif is a beverage taken before them meal designed to stimulate the appetite. The word apéritif is derived from the Latin aperire, or “to open.”
The apéritif is often enjoyed with an hors d’oeuvre or two and it is customary and wise to limit yourself to no more than two drinks while one is often just right. This is the introduction to the evening after all.
Apéritifs come in many forms from Wine, to Spirits, Beer (yes – some Beer styles fit the bill) and of course cocktails.
Simple – straight from the bottle Apéritifs
In the Wine department you can always go for a refreshing and simple sparkling wine like Cava or Prosecco. These have the added benefit of often being relatively low in alcohol as well. Crisp and light wines like Grüner Veltliner, un-oaked Chablis, or an Alsace Pinot Bianco are but a few good choices. When choosing a wine go with a wine from a cool growing climate and you won’t likely go wrong.
Dry Sherry is a wonderful apéritif as it stimulates the appetite and the traditional small serving size make it the perfect launching pad for the evening or the meal.
Vermouth offers a great deal of options as an apéritif. In America Vermouth is far too often thought of as a supporting player in a cocktail. In Europe, especially in countries like Italy and France where Vermouth is crafted and revered it is cheerfully served as a drink in its own right. Today, thanks in part to an increased call for cocktails, the Vermouth you can find on your local merchant’s shelf is fresher than ever. Both Red or White Vermouth can simply be served over ice or with the additional of soda and your favorite fruit garnish.
Bitters is a whole category of bottled apéritif – Campari being the most famous – that are an essential ingredient in many refreshing cocktails, as well as being terrific with nothing more than a glass.
A Few Interesting Apéritif Cocktails
The Upside Down Martini – this version puts Vermouth in the drivers seat of the cocktail. (Get the recipe.)
The Americano – this simple but ultra refreshing cocktail is the father of the Negroni and a super apéritif. (Get the recipe.)
The Ginicello – this has long been a favorite of mine for its refreshing, apéritif qualities, as well as being a simple cocktail to construct and even simpler to drink. (Get the recipe.)