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.
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!
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
- 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!