Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Aperitivo Time!

“Facciamoci un aperitivo” Let's have an aperitivo!

The aperitivo (Italy) or apéritif (France) is an alcoholic tipple, served before a meal to stimulate appetite, or what's better known where I'm from (Australia) as 'pre-drinks' - not as classy, but essentially the same!

Common choices are Vermouth, Champagne, Gin, Fino, Amontillado or other styles of dry Sherry (but not usually cream Sherry, which is very sweet and rich) and any still, dry, light white wine. But, like many drinks, and even foods, this varies from place to place.

In France, the apéritif varies from region to region: Pastis (anise -flavored liqueur) is popular in the South of France, Calvados (apple brandy) in the Normandy region and Crémant d'Alsace (delicious sparkling white) in the Eastern region. Kir, also called 'Blanc-Cassis', is a common and very popular apéritif-cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped up with white wine. The Kir Royal is the fancier version, when white wine is replaced with Champagne - utterly delectable!

In Spain, a Fino or Amontillado Sherry is a typical accompaniment to juicy green olives, salted almonds and tapas dishes - perfect for a lingering summer's evening. The Romate Fino Perdido Sherry from The Wine Society is just £7.50 and also pairs well with shellfish. It's broad, rich, powerful style, with delicious orange peel and nutty character, has proven hugely popular with Wine Society members and is exclusive to them from Bodega Sánchez Romate - one of the few remaining sherry houses owned entirely by Jerez families.

In Italy, Vermouth or a crisp, dry, white wine is usually the tipple of choice. Popular brands of Vermouth and bitters include Martini & Rossi, Campari, Cinzano, Carpano and Barbieri. Usually mixed with soda or lemonade and plenty of ice any of these will create a refreshing and (too) easy to drink aperitivo. 

On trend this summer, is Aperol and the Aperol Spritz , both in Italy, and other parts of Europe -including the UK. With its sunny hue and fizzy, sweet orange taste, the Aperol Spritz is Italian sunshine in a glass;

3parts Prosecco,
2 parts Aperol
1 part soda water.

Serve over ice and finish with a slice of orange - the perfect companion to a summer’s day.

In Greece, ouzo is a popular choice though this is not to the tastes of many English folk! Ouzeries can be found in nearly all cities, towns, and villages, serving ouzo with appetizers such as octopus, salad, sardines, calamari, fried zucchini, and clams, among others. It is traditionally slowly sipped (usually mixed with water or ice) and shared with others over a period of several hours in the early evening. To make this potent aniseed spirit a little more palatable, why not try an Ouzo Lemon Spritzer;
  • 2 ounces ouzo
  • 4 fresh mint leaves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Soda water
  • Orange slices, for garnish
Place the ouzo, mint and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over ice and top with soda water. Garnish with an orange slice and serve.       

As it happens, I have an unopend bottle of Ouzo which I brought back from a holiday in Rhodes last year...I think apertivo time is calling - Ouzo Lemon Spritzers all round!

Aperol bottle shot from nigab's photostream on Flickr. Campari & Martini bottle shot from raymondnt's photostream on Flickr.

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