January 18, 2018

A French Adventure in Aperitifs

For me, a part of traveling also includes enjoying local food and drink.

Since I am not the world’s most adventurous eater, the food part can be a bit tricky but I usually find a way to muddle through.

On the other hand, I would have to say that I am an adventurous drinker.  I may not really like a certain beverage but I am definitely up for trying it!  I mean when in Rome or Ireland or France you must do as the locals do!

Oh wait, you do realize I am referencing alcoholic beverages, right?  🙂

One of my favorite rituals I discovered while traveling in Europe is aperitifs.  There is something so refined, fun and very different by enjoying aperitifs prior to dinner.  My first foray into this new world of beverages was while on a trip in France.

Aperitif before diner in the garden

Aperitif before diner in the garden by DocteurCosmos

French aperitifs are regional cocktails enjoyed to start the dinner meal.  I really like the fact they are regional – something new no matter where I am!

Lillet and other aperitifs

Lillet and other aperitifs by Rob Ireton, on Flickr

One of my first aperitifs was Lillet.  This classic drink was invented in Bordeaux and is a blend of local wine and tropical and/or citrus fruits.  It can be either red or white.  On a trip to Bordeaux I was served a white Lillet which I enjoyed very much and would definitely have again.

Later down near Rocamadour, we were served a Champagne cocktail made with a regional walnut liqueur. Maybe this isn’t a true aperitif but it is really very good and a great way to enjoy regionally made liqueurs or bandies.  Armagnac, a brandy made in this same area, is another great additive to a Champagne cocktail!

Other French aperitifs include:

  • Byrrh a drink made of local red wine and tonic water from the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
  • Kir is a cocktail from the Burgundy region made from white wine and Crème de Cassis.  If you’re feeling like a special treat mix the Kir with Champagne for a Kir Royale.  Delectable
    French aperitifs - Pastis

    Pastis by cyclonebill, on Flickr

    and invigorating!

  • Calvados is an apple brandy from the Normandy region.
  • Chartreuse is a secret liqueur produced by the Chartreuse Monastery in the Alps.  This herbal drink comes in either a green or yellow version.
  • Pastis is an anise flavored liqueur from the Provence-Cote d’Azur region.  Pernod is a brand you may be familiar with.  Mix this liqueur with water and you’re ready to enjoy all the wonderful flavors of the liqueur.

After my adventure with aperitifs, I came home wondering why we don’t have aperitifs in the US.  Or is it just in California?  If I have a “cocktail” prior to dinner it is usually a glass of wine.  My parents still have a “cocktail” prior to dinner.  So when did this ritual go away?

Well I have to go now because I haven’t yet enjoyed all of these aperitifs and I have some work ahead of me!


Tell me about your experience with aperitifs.

Do you enjoy aperitifs before your dinner meal here in the US?

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  5. hi! I am pretty sure that Calvados is a digestif and not an apperitif…

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I am by no means an expert but it is my understanding that Calvados can be both a digestif and aperitif. As an aperitif it is served on the rocks or mixed with something like Champagne.

      Thank you for stopping by.

  6. Scott says:

    This is crazy timing because the restaurant I work at here in St. Louis just rolled out a line of 4 apertifs and we were watching videos this week on how to sell them to our guests. We have Lillet and another one w/ Aperol! Supposedly, they are supposed to stimulate the digestive track for dinner. Informative post!
    Scott recently posted..My Style of Backpacking

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      It is interesting how that happens! I don’t know if they actually help my digestion but I do enjoy them and if there is a health benefit – – even better.

  7. A lillet sounds tasty! I’d like to try it sometime

  8. I am more then willing to try all types of foods but my pleasure is enjoying a wonderful drink. As soon as I saw this post I knew I was going to love it. Are any of these actually available to get in the states.

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I’m with you! Yes, I am sure you can find Lillet and Pastis. There is just something to be said for enjoying them in the country of their origin 🙂

  9. Arti says:

    We do not have the tradition of apaperitifs before our dinner meal in India. But this looks truly appetizing! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Arti recently posted..Pilot Baba Ashram – Bhatwari

  10. Andrea says:

    I’m not a big aperitif drinker but I LOVE Lillet. I always order it if a restaurant has it listed on their menu.
    Andrea recently posted..Tired of Being Tired

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Me either, I only have aperitif’s when in France! There is just something so “french” to it.


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  2. […] is also known for.  The walnuts make a great liqueur and you may want to enjoy Fenelon, a local aperitif made from local red wine, cassis and the wonderful local walnut […]

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