In the quest for a well-balanced drink menu, I have included some basic mint based drinks, some classic cocktails, a few modern creations and then the aperitifs. The standard definition of an aperitif is a an alcoholic drink usually enjoyed as an appetizer before a large meal. It is derived from the Latin verb aperire, which means to open. Many aperitifs have a bitter component to them, but they don’t necessarily need that, but they should be of a dry style and not sweet or creamy. For some good examples of aperitifs, you can read the Mixology Monday summary on aperitifs. For the Mint menu, there are currently four cocktails, with the possible addition of one more.
Diablo Cocktail:: This is the older brandy-based cocktail and not the tequila-based one. This drink is a nicely balanced drink. It combined brandy, dry vermouth, Cointreau, Angostura bitters and orange bitters (Regans’). I’ve done a write up on the Diablo cocktail previously and am quite happy with this cocktail.
Negroni :: This is an old Italian classic that combines equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth. This drink will wake up your taste buds and get your saliva glands pumping. The nice thing about this aperitif is that no single component takes centre stage, they al share the spotlight and complement one another while doing so. This isn’t a drink for the cocktail neophyte, so if you are just approaching bitterness in your exploration of the cocktail flavour spectrum, try the Diablo first.
French 75 :: No aperitif menu would be complete without a champagne (sparkling wine) cocktail. The champagne cocktail is the classic aperitif, but the French 75 is another get one. It’s named after an artillery piece from World War I and is a combination of gin, lemon, simple syrup and champagne. In our case we will be substituting prosecco for the champagne.
Manhattan :: Now most people don’t consider a Manhattan an aperitif, but for sure it is. In its purest form it combines rye, sweet vermouth and bitters which sounds like an aperitif to me. Why put a Manhattan on the menu? For starters it’s a great drink and I intend to make them extremely well. Secondly, many people forget to order them. Unless you are a die-hard Manhattan fan it can slip your mind when you are presented with a cocktail menu, wine list and dining menu. It’s like being a kid in a candy store; you are so overwhelmed you forget what you came for.
I’m leaving spot No. 5 open for now, but when I find something modern and creative I’ll put it on the list. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to do the research, so all suggestions are appreciated.
On a side note, I like the suggestion by James Dorsey about adding the Whisky Smash to the cocktail menu. I’ll see how the Mint Julep moves and if it is slow, I’ll replace it with the Whisky Smash. Thanks for the suggestion.
Part IV of the cocktail menu will discuss the Digestif or Night Cap selections.