Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aperitifs & Appetizers




Just as an appetizer is a small snack you eat before your entrée in order to whet your appetite, an aperitif is a cocktail specially designed to drink prior to a meal for the very same reason. Recently, I took a course at The Astor Center in New York City where we combined different aperitifs with a variety of appetizers to experiment with an array of flavors that paired well together.



Above are the appetizers that were paired with the cocktails we made this evening, which we tasted in order, from left to right: prosciutto and melon; fried chickpeas; olive tapenade on baguette; and salumi e formaggi .

We started the evening by making an Aperol Spritz:

  • 2 ½ ounces Prosecco
  • ¾ ounce of Aperol
  • Splash of soda water,sparkling water or club soda

Combine the ingredients in a rocks glass, top with a couple of ice cubes and garnish with an orange wheel. Serve with melon and prosciutto.

Second was something called Bamboo:

  • 1 ½ ounce dry amontillado sherry
  • 1 ½ ounce Noilly Prat dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Twist of lemon

Stir ingredients with ice until chilled and diluted. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon. Serve with fried chickpeas.

Next was La Bête Verte:

  • ¾ ounce Absinthe
  • ¾ fresh lime
  • ¾ simple syrup
  • 3 ½ parts soda water
  • 4 wheels thinly sliced English cucumbers

Muddle cucumber and simple syrup in your pint glass; add absinthe, lime juice and ice and shake until chilled and diluted. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top with soda water. Serve with olive tapenade on baguette.

Finally, we ended the evening with an old standard, The Negroni:

  • 1 ounce Gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce Sweet Vermouth

Stir the ingredients in an ice filled mixing glass, then strain into a cocktail (martini) glass and serve with salumi e formaggi.


While I was familiar with both the Aperol Spritz and The Negroni, the Bamboo and La Bête Verte were new to me. Although I enjoyed the Bamboo, I’d probably be more inclined to want to try making La Bête Verte at home because I like absinthe-based cocktails quite a good deal. Of all the cocktails, I found the Negroni to be the one that stimulated my appetite the most – I’m guessing this was probably because of the bitterness of the Campari.

As far as the appetizers were concerned, they were all quite good, but I would probably be less inclined to fry the chickpeas if I was going to try making one of these at home. So, because I’m lazy, I’d probably want to go with either the melon and prosciutto or the salumi e formaggi; with the latter, however, I would likely be inclined to go with sopressata for the meat.

Have you ever tried any of these appetizers or aperitifs? How did you like them? What did you pair them with (if anything)? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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