Aperitivo Verano


This drink by Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard was the opening aperitif for the Spirited Dinner at Feast, sponsored by Anchor Distilling, in an attempt to showcase their product line and cocktails that come out of that line in relationship to continental European fare.

Meaning summer appetizer in Spanish, the drink as designed to pair with a chilled almond soup with grapes, which also was Spanish based.  Seeing as each course was designed to pair with a specific cocktail, what better way than to capture the cocktail and the essence of it by using products from Preiss Imports (now Anchor Distilling), to showcase European liquors and spirits.

Created by Jackson Cannon, he drink really looks to me to be a riff on champagne cocktails like the French 75, replacing the lemon juice with Verveine and Regan’s bitters, and the gin with brandy, as well as raspberries with salt to bring out a bit of flavor.  The use of the berries is somewhat a throwback to smashes and coolers, with the berry as a garnish, bu the inclusion of it in the drink through muddling is a common occurrence now a days.

The drink was fantastic: light thanks to the effervescence, the bubbly mixture soared high with the sharp acidity on the tongue from the Cava and the tartness of the raspberries, while retaining bright fruit notes on the finish.  And while the drink could have probably used a bit more effervescence, a problem that plagues a lot of drinks, but was a result of the fact so many were made at once here, the levity created by the sparkling wine was not lost, and its’ function as an aperitif was fulfilled.  It also worked surprisingly well as it warmed up, giving it a bit of a more savory finish rather than that tart acidity from the Cava.  This might be in part due to the inclusion of salt in the drink, something which I have noticed from a couple of Jackson’s drink recipes.

You know how grapes can have a tartness about them that bites on the tongue?  That tartness was what was really emphasized and supplemented through this cocktail: grapes in the soup were fresh and bright and contained that sharp flavor, while juxtaposed to the drink itself, because of the tartness of the raspberries, a supplementary note came through.  In addition, the fact that there is brandy in the drink helped in a completely different way.  The use of brandy was less about augmenting the grape notes in the soup, so much as helping to pair between the savory components of the almond base; good brandy has a light sweetness, but also a bit of complexity that can lend itself a sort of savory component.  

A caveat about the drink: it was originally designed with Verveine do Velay, specifically the verte one, but in the format I had it, it was substituted for the amber version.  Verveine do Velay is a French liqueur that is similar to Chartreuse, except instead of the longstanding history of being made by Monks with 130 different herbs and plants, Verveine was made by an apothecary Joseph Rumillet Charretier in the Auvergne region in 1859 with only thirty-two plants.  There is a notable difference, but it is a wonderful herbal liqueur, that uses cognac as an additional element in order to provide a more complex finish.  It is a fantastic way to bring a more subtle layer of complexity to drinks when compared to Chartreuse, but simultaneously not losing all the depth that is Characteristic of Chartreuse when mixed as an accent in cocktails with a lot of strong flavors.

Apertivo Verano:

5 raspberries
Pinch of salt
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce Verveine do Velay verte
1 ounce brandy
1 dash Regan’s orange bitters

Muddle the raspberries with a pinch of salt, and then combine the rest of the ingredients in the tin.  After a moderate shake, strain into a flute, and top with 3 ounces of Cava and a light twist of lemon.