When it comes to drink we have our familiar favourites. But when on the road, I like to have a ‘when in Rome ‘ attitude. Heres my favourites from food odyssey’s around Europe. In no particular order:
1. Tio Pepe
Tio Pepe Fino Sherry15% – Sherry has become unfashionable and is frequently known for the wrong reason but Tio Pepe has always been stylish and this bone dry aperitif begs for food. Traditionally taken at about 6.30pm, first introduced by old friends who kept cases of it in his garage, it is good with smoked almonds.
2. Spritz con Apero
Spritz con Apero 11%- Venetian Spritz is quite often had with Venetian sandwiches from mid-morning onwards. Spritz changes depending which area you are in the Veneto. Apero is a bitter like Campari. My Mestre friends have it served with ice, a green olive and topped up with Prosecco. Locals add Soda to dilute the alcohol if driving.
Lillet 17% is a Bordeaux aperitif. Lillet Blanc is a blend of 85% Bordeaux wines -Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. Lillet Rouge Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) and 15% macerated liqueurs. Served chilled with an orange peel curl, this begs for food.
3. Leffe Ruby
Leffe Ruby 5% – Leffe from Belgium makes fantastic beer widely available, in the UK. But you may not have tried their red fruit beer available on mainland Europe especially in Belgium and France. This light, refreshing and not too sweet fruit beer is well-balanced and stands up well to food like Moules Frites or a Belgian stew.
4. Arehucas Rum
Arehucas Rum 37.5%- is a Canarian made Rum made on La Palma and readily available on Tenerife. Sugar canes from here were brought to the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus and ignited the Rum industry there. With lots of ice, ginger ale and lime wedges for those who don’t fancy wine with dinner. Also a great after-dinner drink.
Can also be called Manderinello or Mandarinetto or Mandarini and Arancello- Its like Limoncello, but the winter alternative made with mandarin oranges, served straight from the freezer delish! Make your own in time for Christmas. This one above I discovered while in Sicily.
6. Licor 43
Licor 43 Cuarenta Y Tres 31%- A versatile Spanish fruit liqueur apparently made with 43 ingredients, a perfect after-dinner drink over ice. But does well in cocktails and in cooking desserts. I also like to use it to make an alternative rusty nail, replacing the Drambuie. It has soft fruit and banana taste
Cointreau 40% – is famous the world over and behind most bars but is best served over ice, not mixed as is common. It’s the dessert without a dessert and its fresh citrus notes refresh the palate.
Hierbas 30% – This liqueur from Mallorca comes in sweet, medium and dry. I like the medium over ice after dinner, it acts like a digestif with an initial strong aniseed nose but leaves for a smooth, sweet, herby palate.
8. Averna Amaro
Averna Amaro 32%- the quintessential digestif, a Sicilian favourite from where it is made. Introduced to me by my Sicilian friends, it is taken once a day there after dinner like medicine and is sipped from a shot glass. In Northern Italy it’s often served over ice, with orange peel. The semi-bitter sweet orange and treacle taste is one of the easiest bitters to take and works very well after high-carb Italian food.
Underberg 43%- A German digestif and pick-me-up all-in-one. Clears the bagged up feeling after a big meal in no time. It only comes in small 20cl bottles wrapped in brown paper. You can strain you neck by knocking it back or take or straight in a shot glass. I find drinking it quickly will bring you back in the room in no time. It has a strong medicinal taste and I was first introduced to it by Scandinavians.
French Brandy (approx 40%) Cognac from the Charente region may more famous and have more global sales. However, Armagnac from the Gascony region has been made for longer, has a high restaurant status and produces a sublime after dinner drink to rival any top Cognacs. The perfect finish to a fantastic evening, Armagnac can be enjoyed with chocolate, toffee or savored on its own, served straight up in a brandy glass. Try the 1980’s or before if the budget allows.
Hope you liked my top 10, these are some of my all-time favourite drinks, discovered and also enjoyed abroad. I’ve seen many liqueurs, aux de vies and but these are the most drinkable! Enjoy them and find some room at check-in for them!
Any favourites, whats your top 10? Feel free to get in touch: