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Friday, April 2, 2021

Spring Aperitifs

Many of us travelers are still lamenting last year’s canceled European trips.  I may have a solution to soothe our house-bound woes.  Since we missed Europe in 2020, why not bring Europe to us in 2021?   In fact, let’s celebrate Spring’s arrival with a toast to our beloved France, Italy and  Spain.  Here are some aperitifs that you may not know, but let’s be adventurous in this doggone pandemic!

               Pastis colored with a little grenadine & diluted with water is a Provencal delight

We’ll start with France.   There’s no more beautiful area of the country to welcome Spring than Provence.   Located in the south of the country, Provence is an idyllic landscape of rolling hills, olive trees, budding grapevines, and blossoming fruit orchards at this time of year.  Pastis is synonymous with Provence.   A licorice flavored spirit, Pastis is often seen on most tables at Provencal sidewalk cafes occupied by locals.


The most common Pastis aperitif is simply diluting it with water (a kind of 50/50 ratio).   But, I’m ratcheting my cocktail up a notch to pay homage to Provence’s other famous drink, rosé wine.   Like rosé, my Provence aperitif is pink.  This is as easy as 1-2-3 by adding the following simple ingredients:

  1.   1 ounce of Pastis
  2.   1 dash of grenadine
  3.   5 ounces of cold water     

Add all of the above ingredients to a glass filled with ice.   Voila!  Viva La France!


                             A taste of the Amalfi Coast can be yours without leaving home

Next, we’ll cross the border into Italy for an aperitivo.   Most everyone knows Italia’s Limoncello, the most famous of which comes from the jaw-dropping Amalfi coastline.   This lemon-based liquor is usually consumed after dinner, but we’re switching it up in the pandemic.  Our Limoncello drink is easy-peasy:  1/3 Limoncello, 1/3 tonic water, 1/3 sparkling water.   Serve it over ice or shake, strain & serve in a martini glass.  Top both with thin slice of lemon.     Cin Cin!


         Wine-Knows will be visiting Gonzalez Byass on their October trip to Granada & Seville

Let's now travel to Spain’s southernmost wine region, Jerez de la Frontera.  Our apertivo here will be a dry Sherry.   If you’ve never had a dry sherry, you must as it’s nothing like the sweet or “cream” sherries you may have had.  It’s also nothing like the insipid “cooking sherry” you have in your kitchen.   This dry sherry is on an entirely different planet.

One of my favorite Spanish aperitivos from Jerez is Una Palma, made by Gonzales Byass.  This dry sherry is aged from three to five years.  It’s delicate but yet offers layers of complexity.  I would serve it well-chilled and pair it simply with Spain's yummy Marcona almonds or black olives.  This wine is a knockout and deserves to be the star of the pre-dinner show.    Viva Espana!

For more info on our 2 last seats to Granada & Seville: