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Friday, July 24, 2015

Refreshing Summer Libations

Living in San Diego is almost like living in a constant state of summertime.  That means that my house is always stocked to the brim with the makings for a cadre of light aperitifs.  In July and August, low alcohol pre-dinner cocktails are even more mandatory.  Here are my faves---all liked by even the most discriminating visitor.

WHITE PORT and Tonic:

                                   Served to the Wine-Knows group on the 2011 tour.

One of the most surprising is a drink made from white Port.  White Port is dry, not sweet.  I first was served this by a well-known chef in Porto, Portugal, the epicenter of Port production.  It was 100 degrees and the aperitif was mixed with tonic water and a slice of lemon (equal parts).  I’ve been a raving fan since.   While white Port is difficult to find in the states, it’s growing popularity has made it has more available.  If kept in a frig, it will last at least a month…at our house, it wouldn’t last the week.  If you’re fortunate enough to have snagged one of the sold-out 2016 Portugal seats, you’ll have several!

LILLET and Tonic:
                                           Lillet Blonde, Lillet Rouge & Tonic.

Lillet is an aperitif made from Bordeaux grapes.  It comes in a white version (distilled from Bordeaux’s Sauv Blanc and Semillon), or a red version (distilled from the area’s Cabs and Merlot.)  On Wine-Knows' tours to Bordeaux we always take the group to the Lillet factory where one can mix a plethora of drinks.  The hands-down winner is always the following recipe:  1/3 white, 1/3 red, 1/3 tonic…with a slice or orange and/or fresh fruit in season.


                                             My very first Aperol Spritz in Venice.

This is almost like having to choose your favorite child, but currently this one floats to the top of my list.  I discovered the drink in Venice about 5 years ago…every table of Italians was filled with neon orange drinks.  I ordered one and the rest is history.  They are the bomb!  Keep in mind I hate Campari (way too bitter for me), but I love its distant cousin, Aperol, an intensely orange-flavored aperitivo with just the right whisper of bitter.  The spritz is half Aperol and half Prosecco, served with a slice of orange.   Viva Italia!

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