Settle in for a moment. Actually, settle in for a couple of moments. We assure you that it will be well worth your time. And time is precisely the resource one needs to perfect art in any medium.
The medium in question here is l’apéritif and while it is generally thought to be the essential cocktail for stimulating one’s appetite before a sumptuous meal—thereby making said meal even more sumptuous—the French have perfected l’apéritif as a general way of living.
To take one’s time, to breathe and live deeply and suck all the marrow out of life… this is the Art of l’Apéritif, an art form that begins with the mixing of the perfect cocktail. Which means that time is most certainly not of the essence. So, one can relax, be conscious of one’s posture, maintain one’s élan and learn this finest of all the fine arts.
The Perfect Ingredients
The perfect apéritif calls for Champagne, St‑Germain, sparkling water and a lemon twist. It calls for Champagne, but sometimes a crisp sauvignon blanc or a rosé answers back, which is fine as long as the wine is dry. The more classic Champagne version will yield a slightly cleaner, more refreshing and effervescent cocktail, but we think you’ll find the alternatives more than acceptable.
For the more adventurous, experimenting with sake or a clean, dry vermouth can be quite pleasing. You may also want to give your St-Germain Cocktail a unique, personalized spin by playing with bitters. A dash of grapefruit or bitters can add another layer of complexity without over-powering the cocktail. Balance may be difficult in life, but it is imperative in an apéritif.
The Perfect Glass
A tall Collins glass is the correct and classic way to serve a St-Germain Cocktail. However, a small wine glass can be an elegant option for brunches, weddings or special occasions.
The Perfect Garnish
Never underestimate the importance of the lemon twist. It’s not just an aesthetic flourish; it also adds a subtle citrus flavor to your cocktail.
Again, improvisation is encouraged: a grapefruit peel is an acceptable and refreshing alternative, as is an edible flower or perhaps a lovely, ripe raspberry. Keep experimenting until you reach your “Aha!” moment, but remember to savor this moment. For in it, you are not only a mixologist of certain ability; you are an Artist.