November 9, 2009 5:58 PM   Subscribe

What's your fvorite aperitif? How do you mix it if at all?

I've spent an adult lifetime avoiding Campari because I believed someone's opinion that it 'tasted like Karo Syrup'. I tried it a few weeks ago and found I like it with seltzer or a good blood orange soda. Any suggestions for something diferent?
posted by nj_subgenius to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
sorry for the typos - I blame my Campari-encrusted keyboard.
posted by nj_subgenius at 6:00 PM on November 9, 2009

Have you tried Pimm's yet? You don't really need all that fruit and garnish. Apparently, the classic recipe requires borage leaves and English lemonade. I usually make do with a just Pimm's + 7Up.
posted by mhum at 6:06 PM on November 9, 2009

mhum, yes, I have. It's a bit too Ginny for me.
posted by nj_subgenius at 6:09 PM on November 9, 2009

Depends on the season. In the summer, pastis and cold water is great, as is a kir--a small amount of crème de cassis (French, not the awful sweet stuff made in the USA) with dry white wine. The rest of the year I tend to prefer a classic cocktail, like a martini (4:1 or 5:1 gin:vermouth, stir over ice, drain into chilled martini glass, garnish with olive) or a Manhattan (dash bitters, 1 part sweet red vermouth, 2 parts rye whiskey, prepare as with martini, garnish if you wish with maraschino cherry). The Negroni is also good: 1 part Campari, 1 part red vermouth, 1 part gin.
posted by brianogilvie at 6:12 PM on November 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

I became very fond of Pastis while on a visit to Paris a few years ago - I'll pick up a bottle when I find it here in the States.

Also Belgian Genever is wonderful stuff - I've had it with a bit of apricot jam mixed in, and it was amazing.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:19 PM on November 9, 2009

I love a negroni, which is campari with sweet vermouth and gin (1-1-1 ratio) and I also love the agavoni, which is campari, sweet vermouth and tequila blanco and a couple dashes of orange or grapefruit bitters. (also a 1-1-1 ratio).
posted by crush-onastick at 6:25 PM on November 9, 2009

Fino sherry is a fine one, lightly chilled, for the summer months. The Lisbon is a great cocktail too, with 1:1 dry white port & tonic (though I prefer soda water) and a splash of lime.

When it gets colder, I default to a good ole Manhattan, often with Bushmills (the 'perfect' variant, which employs both sweet and dry vermouth, is a nice touch if you choose to use Irish whiskey).
posted by solipsophistocracy at 6:27 PM on November 9, 2009

Lillet, tres frais, with a twist of lemon.
posted by activitystory at 6:50 PM on November 9, 2009

I've bought Lillet on a sale for sometime later. Belgian Genever sounds interesting :-)
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:10 PM on November 9, 2009

Manzanilla sherry. And for mixing with Campari, try pink grapefruit juice.
posted by hawthorne at 7:13 PM on November 9, 2009

If you like Campari, you might like Aperol, which has a more herbal taste, and is excellent with soda.
posted by Lycaste at 7:17 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cynar, with soda and a slice of lemon.
posted by gyusan at 7:40 PM on November 9, 2009

Dubonnet and soda. That's a bit summery, though.

Winter sort of asks for whiskey and bitters: Old Fashioned, Manhattan. Though you can get away with a manzanilla or even an amontillado in the right environment.
posted by holgate at 7:41 PM on November 9, 2009

Something a bit different: In a tall slender glass, one third 'clean' vodka (we like Ketel) and one third St. Germain. Finish with champagne.

Another vote for Aperol— I like it with champagne as well as with soda.
posted by a halcyon day at 7:42 PM on November 9, 2009

Sweet vermouth (I recommend Cinzano, among the easier to get brands) and tonic, roughly two or three to one. Top with a slice of orange, and you've got an excellent aperitif. Also works well with various amaro (Luxardo, Rammazzoti, etc) that one can find online (or in stores if you live in a state that carries them).

Another drink that would work well for an aperitif is the chrysanthemum cocktail. Two to one dry vermouth to Benedictine, with a dash of absinthe. Nice, light, and herbal. It'd work well with the Lillet you bought, too, I'm guessing.
posted by Schismatic at 8:08 PM on November 9, 2009

Crème de cassis is great on its own or with a bit of champagne or seltzer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:26 PM on November 9, 2009

Ditto fino. Also try a dry vermouth on the rocks straight up. If you liked gin, anything with Tanq 10 would be a good choice. Creme de cassis + champagne or prosecco is a great choice too but it will get you stinko in seconds flat.
posted by unSane at 8:33 PM on November 9, 2009


Standard or Royale. Err on the side of more créme de cassis.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:35 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I assume such things as Lmocello are not good at all?
posted by nj_subgenius at 8:38 PM on November 9, 2009

I don't know if it technically qualifies as an apertif, but me and Mr. Missmobtown love a little tipple of Punt e Mes before dinner. Also great in a Manhattan, should you be so inclined.
posted by missmobtown at 8:41 PM on November 9, 2009

Limoncello doesn't really work as an aperitif -- at least, not for me -- unless it's home-made, with the sweetness tamped down from the overly-alcoholic and syrupy commercial versions. Even cut with fizz, I'm not convinced. The extremes of bitterness (Fernet Branca) and sweetness (e.g. Drambuie) seem to fit better as digestifs.

The classic champagne cocktail, on the other hand, has the bitters to balance the sweetness and prime the palate. Likewise vermouth-based drinks.
posted by holgate at 10:15 PM on November 9, 2009

Cynar on the rocks is an excellent apertif. Lemon if you fancy.

If you like that sort of thing, it's just the sort of thing you'll like, and I like it.
posted by mumkin at 10:47 PM on November 9, 2009

Manzanilla. It's supposedly only for vicars and old ladies but I love it.

A nice French 75 is a good way to start a meal if you want to be good and sloshed by the main course. My friends and I also make Czech 75s with Becherovka, champagne and a twist of lime.
posted by stuck on an island at 4:43 AM on November 10, 2009

St. Germain is great in cocktails. It's a French liqueur distilled from elderflowers. It has a lovely, somewhat citrusy/grapefruity flavor. It mixes fabulously with gin. There's a cocktail called a Left Bank Martini that's gin, St. Germain, and a splash of white wine (pref. Sauvignon Blanc). But really a lot of the time I just do gin and St. Germain about 2 to 1 (like a really sweet martini).

I drink Manhattans a lot, and hearing that a well known high end bar here uses a vermouth called Carpano Antica for them, I sought some out. It's based on what they say is the "original" Italian sweet vermouth formula from ages ago. It's not cheap, but if you can find it give it a try. It really is good enough it could be sipped straight up, unlike a lot of vermouths that really need to be kept as ingredients in something else.

Also lately I've been reminded how much I like Drambuie, although it's so sweet it's probably better as a "digestif" or after-dinner thing. It's made from Scotch and honey. I like it both straight over ice, or in a "Rusty Nail" (Scotch and Drambuie cocktail. If you're feeling decadent use a lower-end single malt Scotch like Glenlivet.)
posted by dnash at 7:15 AM on November 10, 2009

If we're going to name every bitter aperitif, let me be the first to suggest Suze. It's a bitter, but with a clarity of flavour that tastes like a summer mountain meadow full of flowers. I don't know any way to drink it other than over ice.

Honestly, Campari and soda with a orange rind twist is the best of all aperitifs.
posted by Nelson at 7:35 AM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone, it may take a while for a best answer with this much to look into :-)
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:58 AM on November 10, 2009

My favorite is a Corpse Reviver #2. Very obscure, but FANTASTIC and easy to drink, and insanely tasty.
posted by TheBones at 12:37 PM on November 10, 2009

Pastis is avalable in the US under the Ricard brand, which I found this evening. At a 1:10 ratio to cold water it still made a party in my mouth. A pleasant and stunning anise and licorice conconction...numnumnum
posted by nj_subgenius at 3:37 PM on November 11, 2009

I tried Aperol the other night, which I put in the same flight as Campari, but the latter takes the prize for me as it's less sweet and more complex tasting.
posted by nj_subgenius at 3:54 PM on November 11, 2009

Sweet vermouth, rocks, large lime wedge.
posted by theora55 at 3:31 PM on November 12, 2009

Looks like Cynar is next up...will report back
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:41 PM on November 12, 2009

No joy searching for Cynar and Suze in Ferderick and Montgomery counties; I did try creme de cassis with dry still and sparkling wines (kir) and like it. Creme de cassis (at least the Frenc variety) has a smell at full strength like industrial cleanser. So mix it but don't sniff it thinking you're going to envision a basket of ripening berries.
posted by nj_subgenius at 2:46 PM on December 6, 2009

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