- Aperol Aperitivo (700ml)ITALY$25. 99 Bottle$311.88 DozenABV: 11%Closure: Screw Cap
Reminiscent of Cointreau without the spirit backbone, Aperol is a refreshing apertif for any occasion. First made in 1919 by Barbieri - a small family owned company in Padua near Venice, Aperol has become Italy’s national pre-dinner drink where it claims nearly one quarter of the aperitif market. Produced using 16 ingredients including gentian, orange essence, rhubarb and quinquennia (china bark).
Tasting notes: Sophisticated and delightful aromas of tangerine and rhubarb. The palate entry is delightfully citrusy and sweet; the midpalate phase offers just enough herbal bitterness to balance. Ends up refreshing, orangey sweet and delectably herbal. This deserves to become a popular pre-dinner quaff. Rating: 90-95 points - www.wineenthusiast.com
Explore Aperols bitter-sweet flavour to the full . Serve it chilled on its own or long with soda, fruit juice, spirits or sparkling wine. At only 11% alc./vol. Aperol is light enough to enjoy again and again in many different ways.
Applewood Distillery Okar Island Bitters (750ml)Adelaide Hills, South Australia, AUSTRALIA$54. 99 Bottle$659.88 DozenABV: 24%After a process of refinement following feedback from fans of Applewood's early efforts, Island Bitters now replaces the original “Okar”, "Red Okar" and Amaro in the distillery's line up. Described as “a supreme example of the potential of native Australian Riberries, Native Currants, Blood Limes and Saltbush." Works beautifully in an "Aussie Negroni" or even as a novel twist on an Americano. 2017 Batch tasted... Deep cherry red with garnet / crimson edges. Powerful, fresh bitter-herbal bouquet evokes semi-ripe blackberries, mint, thyme and citrus peel with later passes accenting blackcurrant and lime juice. Drinks as a silky, medium bodied amaro with attractive fruitiness countered by a surge of bay leaf, peppermint, citrus peel and delicately bitter, drying, herbal tea-like notes at the finish. Complex and refreshing.
Audemus Spirits Sepia Amer Aperitif (500ml)Cognac, FRANCE$69. 99 Bottle$839.88 DozenABV: 33.7%Tasting note: A contemporary aperitif that pays homage to French-style bitters of bygone years. Roasted French chicory provides a full-bodied and lightly bitter canvas. Sardinian myrtle, fresh seasonal oranges, angelica root and a handful of other botanicals complete the picture. Showing a polished mahogany colour with bittersweet fruity-dark chocolate aromas and flavours, this also offers hints of roasted coffee beans, liquorice root, cola and sarsaparilla. Rich yet elegant and light on its feet, the delicately bitter finish ends with cocoa and a subtle fruity edge. Beautifully composed. Try it over ice or add a splash to a light beer. 33.7% Alc./Vol.
- Autonomy Davo Plum Aperitivo (700ml)Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA$39. 99 Bottle$479.88 DozenABV: 15%Tart Davidson Plums and Rosella are balanced by sweet oranges and a hint of Tasmanian Pepperberry in this deliciously refreshing aperitif. Add a splash of soda for an Aussie spritz, or combine with a generous pour of sparkling wine and plenty of ice for a cool cocktail that will see you through a hot Summer arvo. 15% Alc./Vol.
Belsazar Dry Vermouth (750ml)GERMANY$44. 99 Bottle$539.88 DozenABV: 19%Based on the Gutedel grape variety (better known as Chasselas), this aromatic and super-dry vermouth uses two types of wormwood in a botanical bill that also includes apple, cinchona, fennel, cardamom and lemon peel. Fortified with a touch of Schladerer's peach eau-de-vie, lending a pleasant fruity note, this weighs in at a lean 28 grams/litre (less than Noilly Prat and Dolin for example). It's genuinely dry and yet it's also textured and vinous, making it nicely versatile and user-friendly; from apéritifs through to the classics. Try it with tonic or shake up 25ml with 50ml Dodd's gin or Poor Toms Fool Strength for a cracking boozy Martini where this vermouth really stretches the flavour. Tasting note: Pale brass gold. Fresh, bittersweet aromas of gentian, dried apricot, crushed grapes, herbal tea and citrus zest. Follows through with a delicately tart, light bodied profile including hints of quinine, lemon peel and oxidised wine. Ends bone dry, faintly bitter, cleansing. Easily the driest vermouth we've tasted. 19% Alc./Vol.
- Bisleri Ferro China Aperitif Liqueur (700ml)ITALY$44. 99 Bottle$539.88 DozenABV: 21%Closure: Stelvin
Discontinued in 2015. Now available again with a new presentation in 2021.
Originally a family of industrialists, the Bisleris have produced this very famous Italian tonic since 1881. It is essentially an aperitif in a herb flavoured, fortified wine base. Its producers recommend its as a blood tonic. Each 30 ml shot contains 5 mg of Iron [from Ammonium Iron (lll) Citrate] and when taken at any time of day, but preferably before a meal, is claimed to maintain normal blood. Ferro China also makes a pleasant drink mixed with mineral water.
One member of the Bisleri family, Franco Bordoni-Bisleri (born 1913), was a famous Italian flying ace. The badge on the Ferro-China bottles was a lion so this was the image painted on most of his aircraft alongside the word “Robur” meaning “strength” in Latin. No doubt his fame helped to popularise the brand. 21% Alc./Vol.
- Bizzarro Bitter Aperitivo (750ml)Riverland, South Australia, AUSTRALIA$34. 99 Bottle$419.88 DozenABV: 19.5%Closure: Screw Cap
Hailing from the the Riverland in South Australia, this natural Aperitivo is produced by Delinquente Wine Co. Biodynamically grown Vermentino is infused with organically grown Riverland oranges and lemons, as well as a range of fruits and herbs. This creates a perfectly balanced Aperitivo, not too bitter, not too sweet and as a result contains much less sugar than other competitors. Equally suitable in a spritz as it is in a cocktail or on the rocks.
Bonal Gentiane-Quina Aperitif (750ml)FRANCE$32. 99 Bottle$395.88 DozenABV: 16%A much-celebrated wine based aperitif made with gentian, quinine and Grand Chartreuse mountain herbs from an 1865 recipe. Often used in place of red vermouth. Tasting note: Translucent burnt sienna brown. Aroma is redolent of prune and grapefruit over secondary notes of quinine and cola. Light to medium bodied; mildly bitter entry is followed by a juicy, bittersweet prune and grapefruit burst; Finishes fresh, pleasantly bitter-sweet, earthy and root-like with faint quinine and grapefruit in the aftertaste. 16% Alc./Vol. Other reviews... 5+ Stars - www.diffordsguide.com
- Byrrh Aperitif (750ml)FRANCE$39. 99 Bottle$479.88 DozenABV: 18%
The new, slightly smaller format of the famous wine-based aperitif also weighs in with a higher ABV. Made mainly from Carignan and Grenache grapes from the hillsides of Roussillon in Southern France, the grape must is macerated with neutral spirit in order to stop the fermentation process. This gives a particularly fruity and syrupy mixture, called "mistelle". After a preliminary ageing, the mistelles are blended with dry red Roussillon wines. The blend is then cold-flavoured with dried crushed quinine bark, and aged for 3 years in large wooden barrels called "foudres".
Simon Violet and a pharmacist friend, both from Thuir, in the Pyrénées invented this new quinine-based aperitif in 1856. Benefiting from the then fashion for quinine tonic wines, Byrrh soon became popular throughout France. Starting in 1903, advertising poster competitions were launched to promote the brand. Boosted by extensive advertising campaigns, Byrrh was a huge hit in the 1930s and by 1935 was the leading aperitif in France, with sales reaching 35 million litres. The brand became part of Pernod Ricard in 1976.
- Campari Bitters (700ml)Milan, ITALY$36. 99 Bottle$443.88 DozenABV: 25%Closure: Screw CapLike most liqueur / aperitif producers, the Campari company considers its recipe as the key to its ongoing success. Consequently, secrecy is paramount. The complete recipe, kept in a bank vault, is known only to the company's President who overseas weekly production. With worldwide annual sales now exceeding tens of millions bottles, this cautionary attitude is perhaps understandable. What is known is that it contains quinine, ginseng, orange peel, herbs and rhubarb that are steeped in a mixture of water and alcohol. The drink is then coloured with cochineal. It's typically served very cold without ice but with a dash of soda to release the flavours.
Other reviews...Light red color. Dark berries and spice on the nose. A smooth attack leads to a somewhat sweet, medium-to full-bodied palate with ripe and tart black cherry and dark fruit flavors that give way to a barrage of extremely bitter herb and fruit pit elements that dominate the back palate and linger as the fruity sweetness dissipates. A complex and dynamic aperitif that could use a mixing element to calm down the bitterness.
International Review of Spirits Award: Gold Medal
93 points (Exceptional) tastings.com
Cherry-red color. Nose is snappy and expectedly bitter in a woodsy, earthy, quinine-like way. Palate entry is mild in a sweet-sour fruity manner; midpalate is sweet and only moderately bitter. Finishes long and mildly quinine-like. While I’m not a bitters aficionado (more a bitter aficionado, really), Campari and orange do positively click. I’m savvy enough to know when not to argue with 58 million Italians. 80-84 points - www.wineenthusiast.com
Capo Capo Aperitivo (700ml)ITALY$46. 99 Bottle$563.88 DozenABV: 16%A classic Italian aperitivo made with bitter orange and rhubarb, and infused with a blend of Alpine herbs giving it a ruby-red colour. It was created after Canadian wine merchant, Joel Clarke was travelling in Northern Italy where he met the family-run, fourth generation, Trento-based business that had been crafting quality beverages since 1909. A special formula was developed for the Canadian market which was considered perfect for a Spritz. Tasting note: [tasted from a near empty bottle] Bright orange / borders on ruby red. Attractive and true to style with earthy / mildly bitter / herbal aromas evoking gentian, blood orange peel and grapefruit. Silky mouthfeel. Semi-sweet entry follows through with a very delicately bitter dried peel / herbal quality that lingers in the aftertaste. A pleasant, low-key bitter style. 16% Alc./Vol.
Cappelletti Vino Aperitivo Americano Rosso Bitters (750ml)ITALY$39. 99 Bottle$479.88 DozenABV: 17%Tasting note: Bright ruby red. Mildly bitter and herbaceous scents of gentian, grapefruit and later hints of cherry cola. Soft, semi sweet entry leads into a gently bittersweet profile with ripe grapefruit and sweet oregano. Ends delicately bitter, earthy and balanced. Like Campari, but more accessible. 17% Alc./Vol.
Charles Oates Pommeau (700ml)Tasmania, AUSTRALIA$59. 99 Bottle$719.88 DozenABV: 18.2%Tasting note: [20 sample] Taking a lead from 'Pommeau de Normandie', Charles Oates blend young apple brandy with the must of fresh apples. They then age it in casks for around twelve months. The resulting 'liqueur' offers gorgeous aromas of caramel fudge, apple strudel and baking spices. It's brisk, silky and deliciously fresh in the mouth, with cider and baked apple flavours rounded off by hints of ripe pear. Drying tannins balance the fruit. Intended as an aperitif, but experiment with blue cheeses too. 18.2% Alc./Vol.
- Cocchi Vermouth di Torino Dry Vermouth (500ml)ITALY$74. 99 Bottle$899.88 DozenABV: 18%
After several years of tests and pressing requests from friends and fans, Cocchi have finally released their 'Dry Vermouth di Torino', albeit in very limited quantities. Born from a collaboration between some of the world’s best bartenders and the company's team of oenologists and botanists, this unique product is the combination of traditional skills of Italian winemaking and contemporary mixology. The Cocchi team delved into the founder’s recipe book and embarked on a research journey that resulted in the first 'Dry' produced by Cocchi in more than forty years. Like its siblings, this carries the “Vermouth di Torino” appellation status, heir to a tradition which began in Torino in the 18th century.
Through the use of 'Piedmontese Artemisia', rare bitter herbs and high quality white wine, Cocchi Dry embodies the essence of Vermouth di Torino. The unique recipe is enriched with citrus, bergamot infusions and Alpine herbs leading to a dryer and more floral taste profile. It was created as the perfect accompaniment to gin or a premium vodka in a Martini cocktail, but can also be enjoyed neat or over ice thanks to the quality of the wine base and the perfect balance of the recipe. It will also enhance classic cocktails such as the Martinez, El Presidente, Bronx and many others. 18% Alc./Vol.
Cocchi Americano Rosa Aperitivo (750ml)Cocconato d'Asti, ITALY$49. 99 Bottle$599.88 DozenABV: 16.5%A blend of two aromatic varietals (Malvasia and Brachetto) from Italy's Piedmont region which is fortified and infused with gentian, cinchona and citrus as well as ginger and rose petals. Tasting note: Pretty autumn-leaf red colour. The generous bouquet includes bitter sweet scents of unripe strawberry, citrus peel, gentian and tumeric. Excellent bitersweet balance with a light, silky delivery offering initial ripe raspberry and spice flavours over grapefruit and gently bitter herbal notes. Concludes dry and fresh, with spices carrying the aftertaste (cardamom / clove?). Enjoy on its own or try with tonic. 16.5% Alc./Vol.
Cocchi Americano Aperitif (750ml)Cocconato d'Asti, ITALY$49. 99 Bottle$599.88 DozenABV: 16.5%Closure: Cork
Cocchi (pronounced co-key) Aperitivo Americano falls along the lines of a Bianco Vermouth. Produced since 1891 from moscato d’asti and fortified with a touch of brandy, it’s subsequently flavoured with bittering aromatics like gentian and cinchona bark, along with orange peels and herbs. Toby Cecchini, writing for the New York Times Magazine, comments “...what has cocktail enthusiasts excited about Cocchi is that it is secretly acknowledged to be the most similar product in existence to the old-formula Kina Lillet.”
Lillet Blanc, (formerly Kina Lillet), a product directly imported by Nicks Wine Merchants, was originally a bitter tonic drink, however the quinine content was reduced in 1986, leaving the market bereft of a properly bitter alternative. Though not as intense as Lillet, Cocchi’s product certainly offers a lighter and more bitter aperitif experience that should appeal to any mixologist concerned with historical accuracy.
Tasting note: Bright pale straw / gold appearance. Mildly oxidised, grapey aromas mingle with floral notes. Further inspection yields hints of fresh picked, sweet oregano and ripe quince. A soft, round, semi sweet entry leads into a moderately concentrated mid palate offering flavours of moscato and dried apricot that’s nicely counterpointed by gentle bitterness. Finishes fresh, clean and gently bitter with a quinine, citrus peel aftertaste persisting. Try it in your next Corpse Reviver or Vesper. 16.5% Alc./Vol.
Combier Anis Liqueur (700ml)Saumur, Loire Valley, FRANCE$64. 99 Bottle$779.88 DozenABV: 45%Tasting note: Based on an original recipe from the 19th century, this superb, pale gold Anis is drier than most - which makes sense - like Absinthe, and unlike Pastis, it contains no sugar. On the nose, herbs including Spanish green anise and fennel from Provence are complexed by notes of lavender, chamomile and thyme. The palate takes off with a burst of bittersweet, herbal / anise, finishing more fennel-like, zesty, peppery and long. The overall dryness lends itself to aperitifs. Try it with five parts chilled water. 45% Alc./Vol.
- Nick's Import
- Contratto Bitter (1000ml)ITALY$59. 99 Bottle$719.88 DozenABV: 22%This blend of the old and the daringly fresh is just the thing to revitalise your bitters experience. The first Contratto Vermouth recipes date back to the late 1800s and had their heyday as top tipples of the flappers and dandies of the ‘20s and ‘30s. Featuring Aloe, wormwood and sweet orange peel, cloves, cardamom, gentian, hibiscus, enula bell, juniper berries, mint, rhubarb, sage, swertia, nettle, ginger and more, many consider Contratto a superior option to Campari. Perfect in a Negroni or a refreshing spritz. 22% Alc./Vol.
- Distilleria Alpina Amaro Alpino (700ml)ITALY$74. 99 Bottle$899.88 DozenABV: 18.5%
Distilleria Alpina was originally founded in 1930 by Agostino Pontillo. Their Amaro is based on Alpine herbs and roots and includes 22 botanical infusions, though not all have been revealed by the company. New owners, the Sembenotti brothers from Trento state that rhubarb, gentian, elderflower and china calissaia (chincona) are in the mix.
The style here aims at a balance between sweet and bitter notes making it suited for any palate as an aperitif or digestif. Enjoy on its own poured over ice or in a spritz with soda and citrus. 18.5% Alc./Vol.
Distilleries de Provence Gentiane de Lure Aperitif Liqueur (700ml)Provence, FRANCE$44. 99 Bottle$539.88 DozenABV: 16%An infusion of gentian roots and wine. Tasting note: Saturated gold / pure amber colour. Almost bitter-sweet as gentian underscores the candied orange peel note. Second pass finds candied blood orange dominating. The light to medium bodied profile features fresh, juicy orange peel / pulp, becoming delicately bitter at the finish as citrus peel and gentian follow through to the fade. Simple yet so refreshing! 16% Alc./Vol.
- Dubonnet Rouge Aperitif Liqueur (750ml)FRANCE$29. 99 Bottle$359.88 DozenABV: 14.8%
In an attempt to discover a way for soldiers in North Africa to consume quinine to prevent malaria, the Parisian chemist, Joseph Dubonnet created this lightly fortified herb wine which is sometimes simply called “the cat.” The story behind the cat which appears on the label is far from clear, however one report has it that it is testimony to the many nights Dr. Dubonnet spent researching his creation, leaving his wife to the sole company of her feline. Dubonnet is produced by fortifying both red and white wines from the Rousillon region of France and blending them with local herbs and spices, then aging the product for three years. Key ingredients are quinine, orange peel, coffee beans, cinnamon and camomile. Best served on ice with a slice of lemon. 14.8% Alc./Vol.
Tasting notes: Tawny color like an old Burgundy. Bouquet is vinegary and tart, with nuances of pine, underripe grapes and fruit stone. Fresh and clean on palate; thin flavor displays tastes of tart cranberry. Try it with some club soda and a slice of orange.
Rating: 80-84 - tasting note sourced from www.wineenthusiast.com
One of history's greatest cocktail creators, Frank Meier, used Dubonnet to make his B.V.D.:
In a mixing glass: one third of each of the following;
Noilly Prat Dry
Dubonnet; stir well and serve.
- Egly-Ouriet Ratafia de ChampagneChampagne, FRANCE$130. 00 Bottle$1560.00 DozenABV: 17%
Ratafia de Champagne is liqueur apéritif, made with the juice of freshly-picked Champagne grapes, and fortified immediately after pressing (to prevent fermentation commencing) with grape spirit distilled from Champagne grape skins. It belongs to the same family as Cognac's Pineau des Charentes.
As with anything that is bottled by this great grower, this is not your average example of the genre! Apart from the renowned work in the vineyard, Egly uses only 100% Grand Cru, Estate-grown Pinot Noir. The fruit is sorted and pressed gently and only the finest grape spirit is added.
Sweetdram Escubac Aperitif (700ml)FRANCE$84. 99 Bottle$1019.88 DozenABV: 34%As the gin sector continues to saturate, Escubac offers the discerning drinker and bartender something genuinely original and genuinely delicious to use. Aside from the addictive E&T (see below), this modern spirit is delicious served on the rocks, while its citrusy, spicy personality and deceptive dryness, brings enormous versatility. It can be handled like a gin or a vodka etc., be poured as a base spirit or it can be 'base split' with countless other spirits. A modern twist on an old drink, Escubac is a reinvention of an old style of spicy yellow liqueur that originated in Tudor England as 'usquebaugh' (a sort of ancestor of whisky). After being adopted by the French, and renamed Escubac, the drink eventually vanished into the ether. Enter Daniel Fisher and Andrew MacLeod Smith. Drawing on the so-called 'Gypsy Brewing' movement in the US, the Sweetdram team distills in small batches using the ancient copper alembics of the historic Combier Distillery in the Loire Valley, France. To start, Sweetdram macerate 14 botanicals, including caraway, cardamom, cubeb, lemon and bitter orange and citrus for 72 hours, then slowly distill them using Combier's antique stills. Following distillation, the spirit is then very lightly sweetened with golden raisin and a small amount of sugar (Escubac contains four times less sugar than the average liqueur), and tinted a light straw-yellow with strands of saffron. The recipe alone took 18 months to perfect in the team's Dalston workshop, and was clearly time well spent. Try an Escubac & Tonic (E&T): Fill a highball glass up with ice cubes. Pour in a 30ml measure of Escubac. Top off with tonic water to taste. Garnish with a wedge of lemon or a lemon twist. 34% Alc./Vol. Tasting note: Brilliant gold. Kind of like a quality dry vermouth on the nose; herbal, fresh and delicately bitter with hints of fennel developing. Follows through in a silky, medium weight profile with an interesting combination of anise, citrus and caraway. Subtle mint freshness on the finish. Reminiscent of dilute absinthe. Delicious on its own over ice. 34% Alc./Vol. Other reviews... 4.5 stars - diffordsguide.com
Imperial Measures Single Batch Ruby Bitter Aperitif (700ml)South Australia, AUSTRALIA$74. 99 Bottle$899.88 DozenABV: 25%Tasting note: [30ml sample] A take on their house Amaro, Imperial Measures employ twelve botanicals including ruby red grapefruit, gentian, rhubarb and ginseng. The stunning ruby colour follows with bitter citrus peel and gentian on the nose. It's slightly fuller and richer than bar standards like Campari, with the gentian checked by ripe grapefruit and mixed citrus notes, including hints of blood orange through the finish. Intended as an aperitif or digestif, but consider it in Negronis too. 25% Alc./Vol.
Kamm & Sons British Aperitif (700ml)UNITED KINGDOM$84. 99 Bottle$1019.88 DozenABV: 33%The creation of Alex Kammerling, a bartender and former brand ambassador for Grey Goose vodka. Composed of 45 ingredients including herbs, spices, fruits, berries, nuts, peels, barks, roots, leaves and flowers, this is produced in a similar fashion to gin. The recipe is a closely guarded family secret, but a few of the key botanicals are ginseng, grapefruit peel and manuka honey. Tasting note: Topaz / copper appearance. Pleasantly bitter aromas are rooty / earthy / dried herb-like in the initial pass. Air contact adds suggestions of grapefruit, liquorice root, fennel, ginger and light menthol. Like a vermouth-meets-bitters, this follows through with flavours of grapefruit, gentian and bittersweet herbs followed by a touch of honey. Ends refreshing, mildly bitter and medium long. Enjoy neat over ice, or served with simple mixers. 33% Alc./Vol.
Lillet Rose Aperitif (750ml)Podensac, Bordeaux, FRANCE$42. 99 Bottle$515.88 DozenABV: 17%Closure: Cork
Lillet (pronounced lee-lay) is an aperitif wine, a type of drink traditionally enjoyed before a meal. It originated in 1887 in the Bordeaux region of France, by the Lillet brothers, Paul and Raymond, distillers and merchants of spirits, soda, and candies. It was one of the first tonic wines, and became increasingly popular around the turn of the 20th century when tonic drinks were touted as good for the health. The ban against absinthe in 1915 also contributed to the popularity of the drink. In the 1950s and 60s, the golden age of cocktails, Lillet became the centerpiece of a number of drinks served in the fashionable bars and restaurants of New York City, where it was sometimes served flambé. It was also popularly served with gin in England.
Lillet Rosé is the latest addition to the existing mix on offer which finds itself in-between the Blanc and Rouge with its fresh floral aroma and its dry fruity flavours. It has so far been awarded the winner of the 2011 Chairman’s Trophy for Apéritif with a mark of 94 out of 100 at the International Wine & Spirits Competition. Garnish with strawberries, oranges and all female related letters of apology.
Tasting note: Pretty pale salmon pink appearance. Enticing aroma includes notes of rose water, plum and ripe cherry / strawberry along side hints of ripe grapefruit. A clean, fresh delivery offers a light to medium bodied palate of plum and cherry flavours supported by soft, cleansing acidity. Cherry glace finish is delightfully fresh and deceptively long as hints of rose petal emerge late in the aftertaste. Know someone who enjoys fuller style Rose wines? Introduce them to this. 17% Alc./Vol.
- Lillet Rouge Aperitif (750ml)Podensac, Bordeaux, FRANCE$44. 99 Bottle$539.88 DozenABV: 17%Closure: Cork
Lillet (pronounced lee-lay) is an aperitif wine; a type of drink traditionally enjoyed before a meal. It originated in 1887 in the Bordeaux region of France, by the Lillet brothers, Paul and Raymond, distillers and merchants of spirits, soda, and candies. It was one of the first tonic wines, and became increasingly popular around the turn of the 20th century when tonic drinks were touted as good for the health. The ban against absinthe in 1915 also contributed to the popularity of the drink. In the 1950s and 60s, the golden age of cocktails, Lillet became the centerpiece of a number of drinks served in the fashionable bars and restaurants of New York City, where it was sometimes served flambé. It was also popularly served with gin in England.
While Lillet was originally a bitter tonic drink, the quinine content has now been reduced. There are now two types made - Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rouge. The Rouge version, made with red wine, appeared on the market in 1962. There are a number of options when serving Lillet. Lillet Blanc can be used in a Martini with gin and vodka and a lemon peel garnish; this drink, called a Vesper, was invented by the character James Bond in Ian Fleming's 1953 novel Casino Royale. Both can be served plain over ice or as the main ingredient in a number of cocktails. Serve Chilled. 17% Alc./Vol.
No tasting notes available.
Lillet Blanc Aperitif (750ml)Podensac, Bordeaux, FRANCE$38. 99 Bottle$467.88 DozenABV: 17%Closure: Cork
Lillet (pronounced lee-lay) is an aperitif wine; a type of drink traditionally enjoyed before a meal. It originated in 1887 in the Bordeaux region of France, a creation of the Lillet brothers, Paul and Raymond, distillers and merchants of spirits, soda, and candies. It was one of the first tonic wines, and became increasingly popular around the turn of the 20th century when tonic drinks were touted as good for the health. The ban against absinthe in 1915 also contributed to the popularity of the drink. In the 1950s and 60s, the golden age of cocktails, Lillet became the centerpiece of a number of drinks served in the fashionable bars and restaurants of New York City, where it was sometimes served flambé. It was also popularly served with gin in England.
While Lillet was originally a bitter tonic drink, the quinine content has now been reduced. There are now two types made - Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rouge. The Rouge version, made with red wine, appeared on the market in 1962. There are a number of options when serving Lillet. Lillet Blanc can be used in a Martini with gin and vodka and a lemon peel garnish; this drink, called a Vesper, was invented by the character James Bond in Ian Fleming's 1953 novel Casino Royale. Both can be served plain over ice or as the main ingredient in a number of cocktails.
After months of hard work we have secured good reliable stocks in time for summer and we are thrilled to have ended the Lillet drought in Australia. However, it's among the hottest items in town and it won't last forever. We advise you to stock up now to avoid disappointment. We are aware of this sounding like a cliche, but we can't think of the last time we made such a statement.Tasting Notes: Brilliant pale straw colour with water like hue. Top notes of candied lime and orange blossom, above honey, ripe peach and apricot with subtle hints of strawberry and talc emerging. The palate delivers flavours of lime, marmalade, very ripe peaches and apricot above a layer of honey. Creamy mouthfeel. Back palate flavours of marmalade, peach and apricot persist through the crisp clean finish. Terrific length, depth and balance. Superb! Serve Chilled. 17% Alc./Vol.
Liquore delle Sirene Bitters (700ml)ITALY$79. 99 Bottle$959.88 DozenABV: 23%A bitters inspired by tradition, employing herbs, flowers, fruit and roots carefully selected for their aromas and special characteristics, each extracted by way of long, separate infusions in alcohol before water and sugar complete the recipe. The final result is rested in small barrels before bottling. No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Tasting note: Glossy rust-red / autumn leaf gold. Aromas of ruby grapefruit, bitter herbs, gentian and earthy, root-like notes. Viscous with delicately bittersweet herbal-citrus peel flavours ending gently bitter and quinine-like through the finish. Lingers. 23% Alc.Vol.
Maidenii Kina Quinquina (750ml)Victoria, AUSTRALIA$49. 99 Bottle$599.88 DozenABV: 17.5%A logical extension to the outstanding Maidenii range comes in this Quinquina aperitif. Produced from Heathcote Viognier grapes as well as fragrant botanicals and citrus, rounded off with the bitter edge of cinchona bark. Tasting note: Brilliant pale straw colour with water like edges. A lovely lift to the aroma with bright notes of grapefruit, thyme, cool mint and delicate quinine. Fresh and breezy entry followed by racy flavours of semi-ripe apricot, pink grapefruit and a delicately bitter, vibrant dried herb / quinine / mint finish that's remarkably long for the genre. Very appetising, this should mix brilliantly. 17.5% Alc./Vol.
- Maurin Quina Le Puy Aperitif (1000ml)FRANCE$42. 99 Bottle$515.88 DozenABV: 16%This aromatised white wine includes a maceration of wild cherries, cinchona bark (quinine), lemon and cherry juice in neutral spirit with measured amounts of cherry brandy. Created in 1884 by Mr. Auguste Maurin in Le Puy, an Italian artist later designed the smirking green devil as a feature on the label (he seems very satisfied to have procured a bottle!) Expect wild berry and lemon flavours finishing with a tart display of bitter, earthy, floral notes. Try it chilled, on ice, with soda or add to cocktails (e.g. substitute it for Campari in a Negroni). 16% Alc./Vol
- Never Never Distilling Co. Fancy Fruit Cup (500ml)South Australia, AUSTRALIA$59. 99 Bottle$719.88 DozenABV: 27%New from the boys at Never Never is this Aussie take on Pimms, described as "Summer in a glass". English fruit cups are traditionally gin-based. This one uses Never Never’s award-winning Triple Juniper Gin combined with Marionette’s barrel-aged Orange Curaçao (a blend of navel, Seville and blood oranges). The addition of local and exotic spices, plus Earl Grey tea for tannin structure, creates a uniquely Australian aperitif, all about taking what the English started and doing it better. The classic serve is long, topped with lemonade, ginger ale and fresh fruits such as strawberry, orange or garnishes like cucumber and mint. 27% Alc./Vol.
Original EXQ Harvest Blend Digestif (700ml)Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AUSTRALIA$99. 99 Bottle$1199.88 DozenABV: 40%Made from a select blend of 34 aromatic botanicals that undergo natural maceration and distillation in a copper still, made by the Carl company in Germany. Following distillation the blend is aged in oak barrels from the Barossa Valley. Tasting note: Flawless pretty deep brassy gold colour is moderately viscous. An intoxicating and sophisticated bouquet unfolds notes of peppermint, chamomile tea, thyme, turmeric, sweet oregano, cinnamon and more. Soft and creamy on entry building with terrific length, the mid palate bursts with vibrancy and complexity in a beautifully harmonised amalgam of sweet spices and dried herbs. Lavender? Orange zest? Finish hints at turmeric, peppermint, chamomile tea and delicately bitter gentian ending clean, lingering and long. A superb potpourri of flavours. Australia's answer to Chartreuse? 40% Alc./Vol. Note: slight variations in colour may occur between batches.
Pampelle Aperitif (700ml)FRANCE$39. 99 Bottle$479.88 DozenABV: 15%In the style of a well-made dry vermouth, this pleasantly tart and refreshing aperitif from the Cognac region of France is an infusion of natural botanicals and citrus peels in Eau de Vie together with the key ingredient: Ruby Red Grapefruit from Corsica. Tasting note: Bright ruby red. Distinct ripe grapefruit aromas are lifted, authentic and true to the fruit. Follows through with light to medium bodied, semi-sweet grapefruit and herb flavours. Ends delicately bitter, citrus peel-fresh and engagingly long. Delicious Summer drinking. Will be endlessly mixable. 15% Alc./Vol.
Picon L Orange (Formerly Club) (1000ml)Marseille, FRANCE$54. 99 Bottle$659.88 DozenABV: 18%
- Nick's Import
Note: Labelling may show as "A L'Orange" or "Club". These are the same product.
Fans of Picon Biere will be happy to know that Picon club is now available in Australia. While Picon Biere has for long been added to wheat and lager beers, there was a need for a bitter aperitif that would perfectly be suited to wine and wine cocktails, as the original Picon Biere had a tendency to sink to the bottom of a glass when used as an ingredient for the latter, and in 1995 Picon club was added to the range.
Picon Club is darker and noticeably more intense on the flavour front, displaying a heady combination between Empyreumatic (burnt her) and Torrefied (roasted wood) characters with heavy orange peel, opening the door for a whole new wave creativity on the cocktail scene with compositions such as Picon Mojito, Picon Punch, Death and Taxes, Amarissimo, and many more. Although Picon club and Picon Biere are now under the umbrella of a spirits giant conglomerate, it is notoriously difficult to source (with bartenders in the US literally having to smuggle it out of Europe) and this distinctive drink is now in higher demand than ever in its history.
No tasting notes available...
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Picon Amer Aperitif (1000ml)BELGIUM$64. 99 Bottle$779.88 DozenABV: 21%A much desired cocktail ingredient but generally hard to find is Picon Amer, with distribution for a long time limited to France. Despite being produced since 1837, making it a bar standard in early cocktail guides, it remains elusive outside of Europe. The proprietary recipe has no doubt changed slightly over the years, as has the ABV. However, orange remains the dominant flavour. Quinine, cinchona and gentian are also known ingredients (not surprising as "Amer" translates to "bitter".) Although it was popularised as a key element in cocktails like the "Liberal", the "Brooklyn" and the "Picon Punch", Amer is traditionally enjoyed straight up or over ice as an aperitif. It reportedly has more bitterness than Picon Club and Picon Biere. While bartenders often cite alternatives, such as Amaros, cross tastings suggest nothing quite equates to the distinctive taste of Picon Amer - if you can find it! 21% Alc./Vol.
- Nick's Import
Picon Biere Aperitif (1000ml)Marseille, FRANCE$54. 99 Bottle$659.88 DozenABV: 18%Closure: Screw Cap
- Nick's Import
Picon is a flavoured bitters drunk as an apéritif, which traditionally accompanies beer in the east and north of France. Its bittersweet flavour is made from a base of fresh oranges which are dried and mixed with a solution of alcohol. Picon also contains gentian and quinquina in equal measures.
Gaétan Picon, born in 1809, was a scholar who had an apprenticeship at the distillery of Aix-en-Provence, Toulon and Marseille. In 1837, after taking a trip to Algeria where he had been in the French Army, he invented Picon. It was originally of a higher alcohol percentage, around 40%. At the time, Gaétan Picon had created the first distillery to produce African bitters in an Algerian village, he then went on to create a number of other distilleries: Constantine, Bône and Algiers. In 1872, Picon returned to France and created the first factory for the production of Picon, still in use today, in Marseille. In 1937, the company published a book called "Histoire d'un Siècle Picon (1837 - 1937)", and the company slogan at the time was "Il n'est plus une partie du globe où n'ait pénétré le Picon !" ("there is no longer any part of the world where Picon hasn't penetrated.")
Picon is best served as an aperitif, but is also frequently mixed with beer or wine - not to mention a variety of cocktails which have developed around this French legend. 18% Alc./Vol.
No tasting notes available.
- Pimm's No.1 Cup Liqueur (700ml)UNITED KINGDOM$39. 99 Bottle$479.88 DozenABV: 25%Closure: Cork
James Pimm opened his first oyster bar in the city of London in the 1820’s after acquiring the "Hogshead Tavern". He supplied Londoners with good food and this unique drink which became famous as Pimms No.1 cup. Not strictly a liqueur, it is a gin based specialty smelling of herbs and peels with a bittersweet palate, designed to be served as a long drink by dilution with lemonade.
Today the drink has strong social associations with the English, or London, 'season', and the sort of people who take part in events such as Henley, Ascot, May Balls and wherever else the young (and not so young) in-crowds gather.
The semi-mythical Pimms Numbers 2 – 6 are no longer produced (with the exception of Pimms No.6, a vodka base which has recently began production again and Pimm's No.3 which has been re-marketed as Pimm's Winter Cup.)
One measure of Pimms to 2 or 3 of lemonade or ginger ale makes a pleasant long drink. Add plenty of ice, a slice of lemon or orange and cucumber if desired. 25.0% alc./vol.
Classic Cocktail: Pimm’s No.1 Cup
Some insist that only adding champagne as opposed to lemonade makes a true Pimms No1 Cup.
- 50 ml PIMMS No 1 - Gin Cup
- 90 ml Lemonade
- 20 ml Club soda
- Cucumber spear
- Apple slice
- Method: Combine all the ingredients in a highball glass. Garnish with cucumber and apple.
- Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro Liqueur (700ml)ITALY$59. 99 Bottle$719.88 DozenABV: 16%Ettore Zucca created this amaro liqueur in 1885, a bittersweet Italian aperitif, made using rhubarb. The recipe also includes zest, cardamom seeds and various herbs. Long popular in the cafes and restaurants of Milan. Expect flavours of cola, burnt coffee and gently bitter herbal notes. 16% Alc./Vol. Other reviews... 4.5 Stars - diffordsguide.com
- Ricard 45 Pastis de Marseilles Aperitif Anis (700ml)Marseille, FRANCE$49. 99 Bottle$599.88 DozenABV: 45%
Created in 1932 by the twenty three year old entrepreneur, Paul Ricard, founder of what is today one of the biggest drink empires in the world – Pernod-Ricard. The Ricard company’s commitment to providing both trade partners and consumers with a consistently high-quality spirit starts with the selection of ingredients. Every year, a team of experts from Ricard travels to southern China where badian or star anis grows. They choose the best fruit during the harvest, carefully following the production process up to the first distillation. That takes place on site, the better to capture the badian’s rich flavour, which is turned into oil of aniseed. Liquorice is the other natural ingredient that brings out the anise flavour. Their search for the best plants often leads Ricard’s flavour specialists to the banks of the Euphrates. It’s vital to choose the plants with the most intense aromas. Only the roots are kept, which are dried in the sun and then cut up into sticks. The oil of aniseed and liquorice sticks are sent to Ricard’s flavour preparation centre in Bessan, a small village near Béziers in south west France. There, the oil of aniseed is purified and the liquorice undergoes a three-stage hot maceration process. The essential oils and blend of natural extracts of liquorice and aromatic Provençal plants are then delivered to the various production centres. The different ingredients are carefully combined using a closely-guarded technique that ensures the consistency of Ricard’s taste and aroma.To fully appreciate the unique blend of anise, liquorice and the herbs of Provence, mix one part Ricard with five parts water and ice.
Other reviews...The first aromatic blast is seductively anise-like, then it mellows, turning softer, more herbal, and plumper. At palate entry the intensely bitter taste of anise both enlivens and cleanses the palate; at midpalate the pleasant sting of alcohol and the zest of rooty/woodsy botanicals make for memorable imbibing. Finishes elegant and smooth. 90-95 points 45% alc./vol. - wineenthusiast.com
- Rinquinquin a la Peche Aperitif (750ml)Provence, FRANCE$44. 99 Bottle$539.88 DozenABV: 15%Closure: Cork
Rinquiquin is the quintessential Provencal aperitif, made from a maceration of 3 varieties of peaches : Cardinale, Coronet and Junegold, as well as peach leaves harvested just before fall, macerated in a blend of white wine and alcohol.
Like many aperitives in France , Rinquinquin was used for its therapeutic properties well before becoming a staple of the Provencal diet, the name itself is derived from "requinquer" or invigorating in english. Virtually every family had its own recipes, the most sought after being made with the now virtually disappeared "peche de vignes".The resulting infusions of peaches and leaves are always matured and Rinquinquin typically spends 6 months in barrels to harmonise this subtle blend.
Other reviews... Straw-yellow color. Bouquet is dry, fruity and soft, with a trace of peach pit bitterness. On palate, the peach flavor is delicate, yet ripe; by midpalate, the ripe peach taste dominates. Aftertaste is fruity, but carries enough acidity to maintain crispness. Serve slightly chilled at 50°-55°F. Best Buy. 15% Alc./Vol.
85-89 points -www.wineenthusiast.com
- Rosso Antico Aperitivo (750ml)ITALY$17. 99 Bottle$215.88 DozenABV: 16%Closure: CorkTranslated literally as “Ancient Red”, Rosso Antico is an aromatised, lightly fortified wine made from neutral grape alcohol, 32 herbs and spices including sage, thyme, elder, rhubarb, china bark and rosemary. Ruby red in colour, bittersweet on the palate with an aftertaste of peels and spices, Rosso Antico is excellent when served with ice and a slice of lemon to make the perfect aperitif. It blends particularly well with vodka, rum and gin. As a refreshing long drink, Rosso Antico mixes with orange juice, lemon squash or simply with cola. 16% Alc./Vol.
- Stockholms Branneri ROD Aperitif (500ml)SWEDEN$54. 99 Bottle$659.88 DozenABV: 22%A fortified Swedish apple cider infused with rowanberries and roots for the perfect balance between bitter and sweet. Orange peel, gentian root and marsh-mallow are part of what gives this personality. Enjoy in a spritz with sparkles or tonic water. 22%% Alc./Vol. Organic.
- Suze Gentian Aperitif (700ml)FRANCE$54. 99 Bottle$659.88 DozenABV: 20%Closure: Screw Cap
'Suze' was created in 1889, at the Rousseau, Laurens and Moureaux distillery in the outskirts of Paris. To differentiate his product from the many wine based aperitifs of the day, Fernand Moureaux decided to create an aperitif from the Gentian plant, a yellow Alpine flower with massive roots that dig deeply into the flanks of mountains. It is these same roots that are used to prepare the base material of the liqueur.
Legend has it that Moureaux bought the formula from an old distiller in the Canton de Bern on the Swiss Jura Mountains where Gentian thrives, and where the river Suze flows. Here, Hans Kappeler had been selling "Or des Alpes" to the locals for years as a remedial tonic. Late in his life, sick and almost financially ruined, Kappeler may well have taken the opportunity to sell his creation to the French negociant. The story goes he convinced Moureaux that one day his liqueur "would flow in France like the Suze", in reference to the river passing through the village.
A more prosaic version has it that the aperitif was named after Fernand Moureaux's sister in law, Suzanne Jaspart, who enjoyed the drink during sessions of tennis. Regardless, Suze became a sensation due to its original flavour. A testament to its popularity is the plethora of advertising material that was produced around the brand by illustrious artists including Pablo Picasso, and the nickname it received from fans - "The Yellow Fairy!"
In the present day production of Suze, wild Gentian is still sourced from Jura, but also from Auvergne where other famous brands of Gentian liqueur are still produced. The modern-day Suze is much sweeter than the original recipe, but still includes all of the aromatic plants in its formula, though exactly which remains closely guarded.
The gentle alliance of sweetness and bitterness is the trademark of this aperitif, which continues to be the biggest selling in its category. Suze can be consumed neat or on ice, but can also be used as the bitter component for many cocktails. 20% Alc./Vol.
Tempus Fugit Gran Classico Bitters (700ml)SWITZERLAND$79. 99 Bottle$959.88 DozenABV: 28%Created by following an "Italian Bitter of Turin" recipe dating from the 1860s. The recipe was purchased in 1925 by the small Swiss distillery E. Luginbühl, and a version has been produced for mostly local consumption ever since. Tempus Fugit's Gran Classico reverts back to the original recipe and employs a maceration of 25 aromatic herbs and roots including wormwood, gentian, bitter orange peel, rhubarb, and hyssop. A must have in the cocktail armoury for Negronis or as a non-red alternative bitter ingredient. Tasting note: Beautiful polished copper colour with deep gold edges and thick legs. Sensational aromatic range with the gentian / bitter peel top notes leaping out of the glass over background aromas of pink grapefruit, orange and dried herbs. Creamy textured, semi-sweet mid palate is eclipsed by a juicy, bittersweet cascade of orange peel, grapefruit and gentian-like flavours. Finish demonstrates ideal bitter-sweet balance as the rooty, earthy notes vie against the sugars until the bitterness finally wins out. Superbly crafted. Benchmark in its category. 28% Alc./Vol.
Select Aperitivo (700ml)ITALY$32. 99 Bottle$395.88 DozenABV: 17.5%It seems almost every region of Italy has its preferred 'aperitivo', and in Venice, it's 'Select'. Created in 1920 by two brothers at the Pilla distillery in Venice, a city renowned for liquors, it's made by carefully blending, boiling and macerating 30 botanicals, including juniper berries and rhubarb roots; the juniper adds balsamic and floral notes, while the rhubarb contributes the required bitterness. Select went on to become the star of the Venetian cocktail scene and a key ingredient in the original Venetian Spritz. The recipe is simple: 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Select, 1 part soda, one green olive and lots of ice. The result is a well balanced, bittersweet taste that's deliciously refreshing. In short, if you like Aperol, you should love this! Tasting note: Crimson to ruby red. Fresh, pleasantly bitter aromas include rooty-dried herbal / potpouri-like notes as well as orange zest, grapefruit and sweeter hints of cranberry juice. Silky textured with delicately bittersweet citrus pith and peel flavours. Lighter and drier through the finish. Ends brisk, medium fresh, mildy bitter. 17.5% Alc./Vol.