This refreshing aperitif is smooth, citrusy, and somehow both delicate and bold. It’s a brilliant late summer before dinner drink, and an equally fabulous late winter drink, as it’s bright citrusy flavor will inspire you with thoughts of sunnier days.
I always wanted to be that family, you know.
The one where they had not a happy hour but a martini hour. Where dinner was always sharply at 7 (or 8 if we want to get continental) and perfectly chilled, brilliantly boozy cocktails in bright shining glasses made heir way into hands each evening at 5, and you would probably “dress” for dinner.
Basically, I wanted to be in an old movie I suppose. Now that I’m an adult my husband and I often have our own little happy hour in the evenings. In the beginning we’d start with just wine, but in all honesty, I really like cocktails and I like the entry and tone they can set for an evening.
I love the creativity of cocktails and the art that goes into a well crafted drink. I am also really drawn to the complex flavor profiles, and I love it when a bartender can challenge my palate with something (Campari I’m looking at you).
I really am no bartender, but I like to play.
And since I’ve rebranded this blog from Coquette Kitchen to Biscuits & Booze I feel like I simply MUST up my cocktail game. See what I did there?
Of course, I’m still nursing, so I usually only get a sip or two of the cocktails these days and then pass them on to my husband. But hey ho, I won’t always be nursing. And I have a beautiful vintage martini pitcher all ready for THE DAY I am no longer nursing.
Still, I’ve been having a blast diving in to cocktail books both old and new. I have always had a fondness for Pre-Prohibition, or classic cocktails. And to really understand cocktails, or where spirit culture is going, I think you need to start there.
I’ll be sharing some of what I learn along the way. I hope you find it as interesting as I do – and if not, feel free to skip on down to the recipe and get boozy!
What IS an Aperitif anyhow?
An aperitif is a drink enjoyed before dinner, and is designed to open the palate, or prepare you for dinner. Jeannette Hurt, in an article for Tales of the Cocktail entitled The French Art of Aperitifs, quotes Camille Hurt, a brand ambassador for St Germain, discussing the difference between aperitifs and the more American happy hour. Hurt says, “The aperitif is something else. It’s not at the end of something, it’s the beginning of something.”
While aperitifs are classically low ABV (alcohol by volume), the martini is also, by design, an aperitif. And in my opinion, well, martinis are boozy. I adore them though. So don’t think that aperitifs are “wussy” drinks by any means. They frequently employ gin or vodka, have strong herbal notes, and vermouth is a component in many, many aperitifs.
So what is vermouth?
Vermouth is, basically, wine. Chad Eschman, in an article for VinePair entitled “Everything You Think You Know About Vermouth is Wrong” defines the vermouth category thus:
Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine. Basically: wine spiked with brandy, infused with herbs and spices, and sweetened. There are two main varieties: red (sweet) vermouth, which originally hails from Italy, and white (dry) vermouth, which first appeared in France. Wormwood, of absinthe fame, is dry vermouth’s hallmark ingredient.
He goes on to add that vermouth is a lovely aperitif on its own, chilled, with perhaps “a twist of citrus.” A bartender friend of mine recently recommended a glass of Dolin Blanc vermouth on the rocks, with perhaps a bit of spritz to freshen it up, and I’ve found this is a lovely aperitif.
And make no mistake, a classic martini features vermouth.
Paul Clarke in a post for Serious Eats entitled The Martini Recipe says:
But for at least the first five decades of its circulation, ever since a drink with that name and this general description first appeared around 1900, a martini required vermouth—a lot of it, none of this atomizer business or that stale “glance in the direction of a vermouth bottle” hokum. And early on, much of the vermouth making its way into martinis was of the sweet Italian variety rather than French dry—hence, a “dry martini” was a drink made with dry vermouth, not one with as little vermouth as possible.
Clarke adds that “It wasn’t until the Mad Men era that the less-is-better approach to vermouth really started catching on.” And vermouth-less or even vermouth light martinis are interesting because, frankly, they become boozier, and are less of a gentle glide into the night.
I’m pro vermouth, when it comes to martinis and aperitifs. How about you? Have you sampled sweet vermouth versus dry vermouth? Do you prefer a dirty martini, a sweet vermouth martini (aka a Manhattan), or a classic martini?
And I’m not even going to get in to shaken versus stirred right now. We’ll save THAT for a later post!
Interested in learning more about aperitifs?
Check out this post about 10 classic aperitifs you can make at home for your next dinner party (or plain old Thursday – no judgement here!). And let me know what your favorite is in the comments!
Why is it “A Season of Opportunity?”
Mainly because I get to name it and that’s the name I chose. But I also think this cocktail is bright and fun, and makes me think of sunshine, or a sunrise, so I’m going with it.
I am referring, in my home, to this period in my life as A Season of Opportunity. I recently left my incredibly unfulfilling full time job to teach part time at a local university and work on a few other side projects. This means I will get to spend more time with my baby, AND get to work here on this blog more.
Because y’all, I love this blog work.
Don’t get me wrong – it IS work. But I find this project one of the most creatively rewarding things I have ever done. And I want to do more of it. I hope, at some point, to be able to turn it in to a full time income in and of itself.
But for now, I am happy to be teaching writing at a local university, to be plugging away at my blog, and to be there when my baby wakes up from his naps.
And, of course, to be learning more about the boozes. Wink emoji.
A Season of Opportunity Blood Orange Aperitif Recipe
- 2 Ounces Vodka
- 1 Ounce Dolin Blanc Vermouth
- 1 Ounce Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
- 1 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters
- Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice.
- Stir for 40 revolutions.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of orang peel.