On Aperitifs, Part 1

Taking in a leisurely meal at a French restaurant is a particularly enjoyable activity. Finding the time to lazily amble through three or four courses, over a few hours, is not an easy feat.  But when circumstances permit, such an indulgence must not be wasted.

French food is far and away my favorite culinary treat.  Yet it is the drink, not the food, which draws the most anticipation of the meal.  The aperitif truly is a pleasure in and of itself.  This category of drink – to include fortified wine, brandy, and a number of herbal liquors – creates excitement in the drinker.  What better way to begin a tour of cheeses, pates, meats, and wine, not to mention the ever-present frites and bread, than with a drink to prepare one’s stomach?

From all the choices of aperitifs, the aniseed-flavored Ricard Pastis is my favorite beverage to commence a rich and savory dinner of French cuisine.

Aside from the aniseed’s licorice flavor, the process of preparing one’s drink is a delightfully special ritual; diluting the liquor with nearly frozen water, a little more or less according to taste.  Preparation is clearly significant with this beverage, as evidenced by the traditional clay water pitcher presented alongside the drink.  The aperitif is cooling and light, with only a hint of the drink’s flavor hiding within the mixture – just enough taste to prepare one for the bevy of flavors from the various courses to come.

So consider this process when ordering a drink before your next dinner.  Take care in selecting your beverage.  When it arrives, be sure to enjoy it, as well as what it represents: the beginning of a shared meal, one with lively conversation, laughter, and friendship.  And one you won’t soon forget.

Published in: on August 23, 2010 at 9:48 pm  Comments Off on On Aperitifs, Part 1  
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