Fancy cocktails are not a French thing. While the French like their apéritif, they like to keep it simple and there are a few staples that take them through the summer and outdoor dining season. Keeping it simple, they will serve with olives, nuts and some ‘charcuterie”. Santé! (Cheers in French) or Tchin-Tchin! (more informal).
To continue our French Lifestyle Series, we’re breaking down a few of our favorite summer drinks from France! Read on to learn the meaning of apéritif along with some easy cocktails you can make throughout the season.
Four of Our Favorite French Summer Drinks
What does apéritif mean?
Before we dive into the refreshing and tasty drinks you can enjoy this season, let’s quickly break-down what apéritif means. "Apéritif" is a French word derived from the Latin verb aperire, which means "to open” and is the drink served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
French Apéro Ideas for Summer:
1. Pastis: Two main brands of Pastis: Ricard and Pernod. It is an anise-flavored liquor and is similar to Greek Ouzo or Lebanese Arak. Pastis is the most popular drink in the south of France, particularly in summer when it’s hot. To prepare the drink, it is always mixed with water to dilute the taste and served cold.
2. Campari Orange: Actually Italian in origin but popular in France as well. Mixed with fresh squeezed orange juice, it makes a refreshing summer cocktail. Campari itself is bitter but when mixed with orange juice it has a distinct citrus flavor similar to grapefruit. Well worth trying! Here’s a little fun fact: You will also be happy to know that, since 2006, Campari no longer derives its red color from the use of crushed cochineal insects!
3. Rosé: Rosé is drunk in abundance in France in summer. The best rosés in France come from the regions of the Côtes du Rhône and Provence. While the Côtes du Rhône is famous for its reds, such as Chateauneuf du Pape, it also produces one of the best rosés in Tavel. While any French rosé is a safe bet, the rosés from Provence are always light, fresh and enjoyable.
4. Sparkling Wine with Fruit Liquor: Particularly when you don’t want to serve an expensive sparkling wine, adding a fruit flavored liquor is the way to go. The French often start a meal with a "Kir Royale” which is champagne (or your favorite sparkling wine) mixed with Crème de Cassis, or black currant liquor. (A “Kir” is wine white mixed with Cassis, also nice). Our favorite though is mixed with Crème de Pêche, a peach flavored liquor. Put a small shot of liquor in the glass, add your sparkling wine and voilà!
Some essentials for your French summer cocktails:
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