"Happy hour may be an American invention, but credit for the civilized ritual of downing a pre-dinner drink or two must go to the French, who came up with the notion ofl’heure de l’apéro—aperitif hour—long before the first modern cocktail was shaken or stirred."
An apéritif is is an alcoholic beverage usually served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Common choices for an apéritif are vermouth, champagne, fino, Pastis, Absinthe, Dubonnet, Bonal, Suze, Lillet and La Troussepinete.
"Apéritif" is a French word derived from the Latin verb aperire, which means “to open.”
Great article by Chris Redman for FRANCE TODAY: http://www.francetoday.com/articles/2012/08/15/lillet_licensed_to_chill.html
An Ancient Traditional Aperitif
The Troussépinète has its origin in the Vendée, a coastal region North of Cognac. It is believed that it was made clandestinely by the unofficial distillers of the Vendée who were not granted the right to distill by the French authorities.
Since ancient times, we know that wines of mediocre quality were mostly consumed flavored. The upper classes were able to flavor their wines with expensive imported spices and plants such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves or rose petals. The people with less means had to use their imagination and find other local ingredients.
In the Vendée, a lot of farmers had small vineyards but the wines produced were only ordinary in quality. However, there was a lot of blackthorn bushes and the winegrowers and distillers started to use it to make troussépinètewines. The French word for “blackthorn bush” is “épinète,” which we find in the name troussépinète.
The Lise Baccara Troussépinète was created by Gerard Pagnon, a small wine grower and liquoriste from the Cognac area.There are a few different ways to make troussépinète but Gerard uses the original ancient receipe. Young blackthorn shoots are harvested in the spring, then sliced up and allowed to macerate in low alcohol cognac for 1 to 2 months to release the sap.Wine (red or white) is added, as well as some sugar and the blend is adjusted to a final content of 17%, then filtered and bottled.Note: the scientific name for the blackthorn bush is prunus spinosa which produces the popular sloe berries; but berries are not used to produce troussépinète, only the spring shoots full of sap and almond like flavors.
The white Troussepinete has pronounced flavors of almond and honey with hints of candied orange. The red Troussepinete displays intense cherry flavors, red grapes and pitted plum with a dry tart finish.Both versions can be enjoyed as an aperitif with proscuito ham, melon, blue cheese, or as dessert wine with any chocolate based cake, or in many cocktails.
2012, Awarded Chairman's Trophy and top prize for an aperitif;
La Troussepinete Red - 96 points,
La Trousepinette White - 95 points.
Click here for the Lise Baccara web site: http://www.dix7.fr/en/troussepinete/troussepinete-traditional-recipe/
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The traditional aperitif of the Gasone region, Floc is a blend of local sweet grape juice and Armagnac. At around 18% it is a great was to prepare your appitite before the main meal or to enjoy with fruit for refreshing desert.