Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Sometimes it is a relatively mild summer afternoon. Perhaps you are all out of beer and wine seems too demanding for the occasion. A cocktail could work but you aren't quite ready to delve into the high octane of a Saturday night. What is the intrepid drinker to do? Pour yourself an aperitif.
Aperitif comes from the ancient Latin phrase meaning "The food isn't quite ready, honey, distract them with more booze." In general, these are low alcohol quaffers meant to stimulate the appetite. Think of it as the foreplay to a Roman orgy of eating or drinking. Vermouths, pastis, bitter beverages like Campari, and fortified wines, such as sherry, are examples of aperitifs. They are light, interesting, flirty and just the perfect little sip - the summer romance of the drinking world. Now, I won't try to convince you that I begin every evening with a pull of rare vermouth, a conversation with great aunt Mildred, and a Cole Porter record. However, on a Saturday afternoon, once all the chores are complete, I like one to three.
My preference is for Lillet blanc (pronounced with a soft et, i.e. not pronounced like the restaurant, Lilette). Lillet is refreshing blend of traditional white Bordeaux grapes and citrus flavors plus other proprietary botanicals. Serve it well chilled. This time of year, dropping in a few slices of Chilton County peaches won't hurt. The peaches don't add much to the Lillet, but once you've polished off a few glasses of Lillet, the peaches taste much better than God ever intended.
A Campari and soda with a fat wedge of orange or lemon does well in pinches, if you don't have all the materials for a Negroni (hint: you should). Try an inverted Manhattan with vermouth and rye swapping proportions. And hey, should the afternoon bleed into the night, Champagne is an aperitif in my book. Just make sure to give me a call.