~ A fresh sipper ~
What is it? Look to our friends across the sea for the origin of these beautiful bottles and classic spirits. Popular aperitifs include Campari, Lillet, Dubonnet, Aperol, Pernod and vermouths. The term aperitif refers to a drink that was meant to be served prior to eating a main meal. The word is French and derived from the Latin verb "aperire," which means "to open." Also referenced as a "short drink," in Italian it is aperitivo. The drink's objective is to stimulate your appetite, but my friends and I usually don't need that assistance * wink, wink. * Originally they were consumed straight, but now they are often used as an ingredient in a cocktail like the well known Negroni. It has been a part of French culture dating back to its beginnings in the mid-1800s.
Why? That is already answered by cocktail historian and legend (seriously), David Wondrich, in this Esquire Magazine article. Simply put, if you ask me these are easy sippers that I find calming, affordable and in all honesty, you are drinking history, tradition and culture. Wondrich does a nice job of breaking down these aperitifs into different categories, with a mention of Cocchi Americano Aperitivo, too - an underdog favorite of mine. Our American craft cocktail movement has taken these liquors to a whole new level for usability. Here are a few more recipes to try your $20 bottles on.
Mentioned above, the Negroni isn't just popular, it has its own week of celebration in June, started by Campari and Imbibe magazine. As a trained designer (that's what my degree says) I could spend a week blogging about Campari's ad art alone. I'll keep it short, but the noted brand designs date back to the first advertisement in 1889 in the ‘Corriere della Sera’, a famous Italian newspaper. A bit more geekery on Campari - they entered the market with a single-serve bottle of Campari + soda making it the first bottled pre-mixed drink. Save that for your next trivia night.
Fun note: Absinthe was banned in France in 1914. In May 2011, the French Absinthe Ban of 1915 was repealed, but distilleries had popped up, or reopened, prior to that. It was available for the U.S. once again on July 17, 2007.
I end this post with a cocktail (top image) from one of Kansas City's most celebrated bartenders, Jenn Tosatto, from The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange. Jenn made me a traditional Americano highball - 1.5 oz Campari, 1.5 oz Sweet Vermouth, topped off soda water and a nice orange peel. I've never, ever had even an average drink from Jenn, and this one had her usual magic touch. We ended our great chat with an aperitif cocktail shot she put together for us.
Drink up! ~ Jason
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