Paris Diary: I love French Aperitifs (mostly)

IMG_4446I love that France has all these aperitifs which are not so well-known outside of its borders. I’ve found them mostly very delicious, and it feels rather sophisticated to have a swig of something with a nice name to finish work and start a Parisian evening.

We stumbled on Floc de Gascogne while travelling in the southwest of France where they make Armagnac. Fortified with 1/3 armagnac, my favourite French brandy, added to wine (2/3), it comes in white and rosé and is served cold. It’s sweet without being cloying or sticky, tasting of honey and almonds, red fruits and flowers…

IMG_4419Pineau des Charentes is a similar, but more well-known variety, where a cognac or eau de vie is added to the wine. It’s a specialty of Dordogne, where we also passed through last year, and also comes in white and rosé varieties and I’ve found it tasted stronger, and a little less smooth, though apparently has the same alcohol content (about 17%). Finer varieties are apparently aged for over 5 years, and for over 10 years…

I’m still trying to decide about the bottle of bright yellow Gentian, a bitter schnapps, that I bought. I couldn’t quite get the colour out of my mind when drinking it, and it was too bitter for me, while also having a sticky sweetness. But then again, I’m pretty sure I had a relatively supermarket variety rather than the classic brands of Suze and Aveze. I had a IMG_4391Suze as an apertif on ice the other day, and while bright yellow, was quite nice…

On the other hand, I was at the Imprevu Bar on Rue Quincampoix in Beaubourg (I quite like this bar) and opted for a beer. I was feeling tired that night and though I thought of asking the waiter to describe the brand of beer, Monaco, the cheapest on the list, I thought: the hell with it. I’ll just order it… I should have asked. It was a beer cocktail, with beer, lemonade and grenadine syrup. Bleck.

The latest one we’re trying is Lillet, a wine-based aperitif from Bordeaux, rather famous, originally with white wine, apparently with a red wine variation that was to try to capture the attention of an American market who seemed to prefer red over white wine, and we seem to have gotten the rosé variety. Made with 85% wine and 15% citrus liqueurs made from, for example, orange peel, it’s certainly lighter than Floc de Gascogne and Pineau de Charentes, and less syrupy-sweet. A refreshing drink for a sunny day, though I don’t find it particularly distinctive.


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