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Showing posts from September, 2018

Michaelmas

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Exploring vermouth

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In praise of the Negroni

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Oh how I love a good Negroni!
If you’ve never tasted this classic Italian cocktail, you’re in for a treat. A good Negroni represents the perfect combination of strength, sweetness and bitterness and comes in a fabulous deep red, with a chunk of orange on the side. As an aperitif, it has so much going for it. It’s fresh and sharp enough to enjoy al fresco on a hot summer evening, before a casual dinner of roast chicken salad, but it’s also rich enough to serve in the autumn before a more formal affair with multiple courses and a flight of fine wines. Believe me: I’ve done both, and several stages in between!
The Negroni is bitter. It’s a drink for adults who have out-grown the need for everything to taste like pop; a proper, grown-up cocktail. The bitterness comes from two directions: first, the Campari, a favourite aperitif drink of mine that is flavoured of gentian root; secondly, the vermouth, deep and herbal. Add to that heady mix a shot of gin and you’re bound for aperitif paradi…

A Drinks Host's Guide

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There’s a strong culture of aperitifs in much of Europe. Each country has its favourite drink or drinks that are served with a little food before dinner. Think of that spritz you enjoyed so much in Venice or the Pastis you were persuaded to drink with just water in Nice, or that cool, dry sherry you had in Madrid. What all of these drinks have in common is that they’re all on the strong side, and each has its own, very distinctive taste.

A lot of aperitif drinks (Aperol, Campari, vermouth, gin…) are slightly bitter, and the reason for this is that they’re often made with herb or vegetable extracts that stimulate the digestive system. In other words, they prepare your body to process the food it’s about to receive. Because of this tendency to bitterness, a lot of aperitif drinks are sweetened. A good example here is red vermouth, served over ice with a slice of orange. Do you remember having that by Lake Como and wondering why it never tasted so delicious at home?


On the other hand, t…