The concept of serving a special beverage before a meal to stimulate the appetite was developed centuries ago in Europe. Since the idea is to get your digestive juices flowing and ready your palate for the symphony of flavors promised by a fine meal, apéritifs tend to be dry or bitter rather than sweet, so as not to anesthetize or coat the tongue. Here are some outstanding pre-dinner cocktails served at local establishments where, most importantly, it's worth staying for the meal.
Cognac, Averna Amaro, fresh lemon, Rossi D'Asiago Limoncello
The mixologists at Holland House were early adopters of the latest craze for using high-end amaros, bitter liqueurs from Italy, and they employ the Averna particularly well in this cocktail. The gently herbal bitterness of the Averna nicely complements the sweet of the cognac and the tartness of the limoncello in a very refined cocktail.
Cocchi Americano is the Italian equivalent to the French apéritif wine Lillet, which when substituted for vermouth turns a martini into James Bond's favorite invention, The Vesper. At Rumours, the Cocchi's sweetness interacts nicely with the tartness of the citrus fruits and the floral St. Germain for a satisfying way to take the edge off the day.
The sweet floral aromas of spring and the tulip-shaped glass are the inspiration behind this delicious cocktail's name, and the Italian Cocchi di Torino gives it a nationality. The acidity of the lemon ingredients wakes up the palate and triggers your Pavlovian responses.
The anise-scented absinthe contributes a nice touch of madness to this delicate, aromatic apéritif. The sweet orange of the Cointreau plays nicely with the tartness of the lemon, and bitter flavors are well known as appetite stimulants.
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