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Showing posts from January, 2019

Whisky Galore!

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Image: K Humphrey  The world of Scotch whisky has enjoyed a massive renaissance in recent decades, especially with single malts (whisky from just one distillery). It’s gone from something best drowned in lemonade or ginger ale to something revered. Where gin is drunk by trendies and hipsters, single malt whisky is the drink of choice for aspirational 30- and 40-somethings. It comes with an ambience of quiet authority and specialist knowledge. In one sense, it’s all nonsense, of course: if you enjoy something, drink it, but any class of drinks that includes products smelling of well-smoked disinfectant is going to take a little getting used to. I was asked this morning how one goes about this getting used to it. The enquirer was Connor, young, hipster barista in my morning coffee shop. Over a sourdough bacon sandwich, he confessed to hating the smell and taste of whisky but also called to mind a time when he similarly wondered how any sane person could put an espresso to the

Appetising aperitif foods

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For the last five months in which I’ve been sharing my love of aperitif culture, I’ve been writing mainly about aperitif drinks. The drink is the backbone of aperitif culture, of course: it’s what lubricates the conversation and eases you out of the pressures of the day. Aperitif food goes almost unnoticed in most discussions, but what’s on your plate can be as important as what’s in your glass. There appears to be a contradiction in serving food to stimulate the appetite. However, the purpose is not to provoke hunger but to kick-start digestion. Hunger can be the enemy of a good dinner. It temps you to gorge on whatever is served first, which is especially dangerous if it’s the bread roll on your sideplate. Good aperitif food will take the edge off your hunger while encouraging the production of saliva and other gastric juices. It tells your brain that something good to eat is coming. Key to its success is that it is visually appealing and stimulating on the tongue. There

Keeping it light & low

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With so many friends trying to keep a dry January (or at least a drier-than-most-months), now seems a good time to think about providing aperitif drinks for guests who do not drink alcohol, are that night’s designated driver or who simply want to take it easy for a night. L to R: San Bitter, Crodino, bitters & soda Our neighbour commented to me just before Christmas that as a non-drinker she often feels infantilised by the choices offered when she goes out with others. While others drink wines, spirits and beers to suit the adult palate, more often than not she is offered pop or fruit juice. No wonder she generally drinks water! I made it my mission to find some grown-up drinks that don’t compromise on alcohol. Let’s start with tonic water. One of the markers of the adult palate is that it tolerates bitterness much more than a child’s does. Tonic may be sweet and fizzy but it’s unmistakably adult. It’s also fresh and stimulates the appetite so works well as an