The Art of the Apéritif
Libations for your h
Martinis, watch your backs. Manhattans, take heed. Another style of drink is hot on your trail, one that whets your palate instead of numbing your taste buds.
There is no consensus on its exact origins, but the word "apéritif" comes from the Latin verb aperire, meaning, "to open." Apéritifs act as a setup for your evening, according to Sebastian Zutant, wine director at
Zutant favors vermouth, the wine-based liqueur flavored with aromatic and often bitter herbs and spices. He makes both dry and sweet styles from scratch, though the bottled versions work just fine, especially during the hectic holiday entertaining season. Take a cue from Proof's apéritif menu, and serve dry vermouth with a lemon twist, or sweet vermouth with a twist of orange. Zutant likes using vermouth because of its simple, clean notes, which pair with many kinds of cocktail nibbles. Since it's wine-based, vermouth is also an appropriate start to a dinner party, as it won't compete with wines served during the course of the meal.
For a bright and festive apéritif option, try Campari, which can also be enjoyed as a digestivo after a meal. Made in
Speaking of spritz, sparkling wines also fare well in apéritif recipes. Beyond looking festive, their playful bubbles refresh and tickle your taste buds. Zutant prefers prosecco and cava, as they are "lighter on their feet" than
If you are entertaining this holiday season, consider the apéritif. To keep it simple, select and serve one signature drink, along with wine and beer. "Be fresh and seasonal," says Fitzpatrick, by using grapefruit or cranberry juice in apéritif recipes. She suggests mixing up a large batch before guests arrive, and adding only ice as the drink is requested, which frees up your time to mingle. Try one of these recipes, or create your own concoction, for a classy and memorable "opening" to your party.
Courtesy of Sebastian Zutant of Proof restaurant
Shake 1Â½ ounces of dry or sweet vermouth in a shaker with ice, and strain into a small cordial glass. If using dry vermouth, garnish with a lemon twist. If using sweet vermouth, garnish with an orange twist.
Courtesy of Aisling Fitzpatrick of Vermilion restaurant
1Â½ ounces Campari
3 ounces white cranberry juice
Pack a rocks glass with ice. Add Campari and white cranberry juice. Stir to mix.
1 ounce gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce Campari
Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Serve with a twist of orange.
1Â½ teaspoons Grand Marnier
Fill a flute a quarter of the way with cranberry juice. Add 1Â½ teaspoons Grand Marnier and top with prosecco. Garnish with an orange twist.
Kelly Magyarics is a wine educator and freelance writer in the Washington, D.C., area. Kelly can be reached through her Web site, www.trywine.net.
More Online Exclusive articles: