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What have you been drinking?

I've enjoyed reading this past year about trends and discoveries in drinking here on the discussion boards -- going for vermut in Catalunya, revivified monastic breweries in Belgium and Austria, sneaky ciders in the UK, etc.

What have been your favorite new imbibing experiences this past year?

This doesn't have to be all liquour, mind you -- the spread of new (to me) sirrups/syrups has expanded my exposure to what we just call Italian sodas here in CA.

Two things are at the top of my mind: excellent rosado (rosé) table wines appearing in Iberia, and the spread of new or re-created aperitifs that go way beyond absinthe, like various quinquinas, the ancestors of Lillet. Recently had a Swiss kina called L'Aéro d'Or that does the same to Lillet that a real pilsner does to Coors.

Posted by
2018 posts

Aperol spritz, Campari, Negroni, in Italy and the white wines of the Benati winery in Sicily. You have listed some "experiences" I will have to try!

Posted by
13526 posts

Sometimes it not just what, but where and why. So for me it is home made kosher palinka after service in an impoverished Shul in the less than romantic Gypsy end of town.

Posted by
8387 posts

A lot of nice Portugese wine at Costco lately.

Posted by
2246 posts

Trader Joe's has 2011 Chateau Roudier for $14.95, and I like it. It's from Montagne Saint-Emillion, just a few kilometers from Saint-Emillion. Close enough!

Posted by
21709 posts

It is fortunately that Bet and Dave live in liberal states or at least states with liberal liqueur sales. A few years ago we shifted almost entirely to balsamic vinegar and olive oil for our salads. Within the last year we have found the fruit (orange and lemon) infused olive oil as a great touch. We buy from a small ranch in CA directly.

Posted by
12040 posts

My favorite non-alcoholic German beverages: Schorle, which is basically any juice you want mixed with soda water. Very refreshing after a long hike, but not sickenly sugary like soda.

If in Austria, given Almendudler a try. I'm not really sure how to describe it... kind of like a herbier version of ginger ale? Once again, very refreshing but not too sweet.

Posted by
360 posts

After our four day visit to Porto and the Douro valley we discovered the Porto locals were drinking white port and tonic water with large piece of lemon peel and lots of ice. Tasty and very refreshing in warm weather. It became my new favourite summer beverage as it is lighter, previously it was an Aperol spritz.
We had to ask our local liquor store to bring it in, it was Taylor's I believe.

Posted by
14885 posts

Oh, I'd forgotten about the vermut I had in Tarragona, so good. In Sicily they make liqueurs similar to limoncello (not my fave) from lots of other fruits. I tasted a divine one from pistachios at Villa Romana de Casale and I still regret not buying a bottle to take home, thinking I'd find it elsewhere. In Sorrento, I had a complementary arancello that was amazing - sadly it was home-made and the restaurant only sold it by the glass.

I'm looking forward to lots of Aperol spritzes next month. In Venice, some places pour it from a hose with a nozzle (like seltzer), with all 3 components at once. Then I'll be in Campagna for almost 2 weeks so if anyone has recommendations for local wines and spirits . . .

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7584 posts

ooh Chani, that sounds wonderful! Have a great time!

Posted by
396 posts

Can I use this thread to seek further ideas on suitable drinks for a solo female traveller of advancing years to order as an apéritif in France? Ones that would be considered appropriate for a French woman in similar circumstances. If I am really hot and thirsty I'll go for a citron pressé, but otherwise I'll probably ask for a kir vin blanc (kir royale too pricey and sort of showoff). But then I miss out on local liqueurs such as pineau (Charente) or vin de noix. (Is this local to the valleys of the Lot and the Céré? I've tried asking for it elsewhere in the Dordogne without success.) And how to avoid the mauvaise faute of asking for a drink as an apéro that is normally only taken as a digestif? I recall asking for une prune before dinner once, and the shocked reaction.

Posted by
8387 posts

It is fortunately that Bet and Dave live in liberal states or at least states with liberal liqueur sales.

Blockquote

Very funny, Frank. You know that where I live it's no alcohol on Sundays because you used to live around the corner from my old house. What are you smoking over there in Colorado?

Posted by
3105 posts

This summer in Germany I had one of my favorite non alcoholic drinks. It was a slightly fizzy, bottled, "natural" rhubarb lemonade. It was slightly sweet tart and tasted just like summer. I looked for it here at a couple of our specialty grocery stores when I came back but with no luck.

During our travel to Vienna and Budapest 3 summers ago I looked for fruit bolles. They came by the glass or pitcher and were white wine, sparkling water with lots of fresh fruit/berries and lots of ice. They were wonderful on hot days! This summer I had shorles in Germany but they weren't as icy, fruity and refreshing.

Posted by
8293 posts

We always drink grocery store plonk, or "plonque" as we say in Quebec.

Posted by
888 posts

Tom wrote:

My favorite non-alcoholic German beverages: Schorle, which is basically any juice you want mixed with soda water.

I'm with Tom on this one. I bought a soda stream specifically to make sparkling water for Schorle. Most of the time we are drinking Apfelschorle made with honeycrisp apple cider, great on a hot day.

Mona wrote:

This summer in Germany I had one of my favorite non alcoholic drinks. It was a slightly fizzy, bottled, "natural" rhubarb lemonade. It was slightly sweet tart and tasted just like summer. I looked for it here at a couple of our specialty grocery stores when I came back but with no luck.

You had a Rhabarberschorle (Rhubarb Schorle), very common to find when rhubarb is in season. It is easily made at home if you can make your own rhubarb juice/syrup. Just cut up rhubarb and boil it in just enough water to cover then strain the liquid, add sugar syrup to taste and a dash of lemon (optional, I actually leave it out), chill and add to some sparkling water. Alternatively, Ikea sometimes carries Rhubarb syrup in the summer in the US (Click here to see it on the GB site.)

DJ

Founder's Brewery in Grand Rapids Michigan has some great beer choices. GR is booming with microbreweries now. Great places for a pub experience. Perrin even offers yoga classes with beer. I think it's called "bend and brew" or something similar. I have given up on having a favorite drink -there's just too many good choices. Seasonally, Founder's makes a brew called the "big luscious" made with cherry. It's hard to get and one of my top picks.

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1884 posts

@cgichard: The world won't end if you order the 'wrong' thing as an aperitif, nor will the gendarmes arrive to hustle you into the back of a van. I like sweet things as a starter, and often choose something from the digestif or dessert column to begin with, like a porto or a sherry.

If you're going to be a little farther south during this France trip, ask for floc de gascogne, which is a regional blend of armagnac and overripe grape must, considered a good dessert accompaniment, but I think it makes a great starter, too. And 'floc' is Occitan, so you can feel in-the-know and with the current hyper-nationalist trends :-)

Posted by
12875 posts

Bravo, Dave ! Saint Emillion is well worth the price, a treat, and one of my favourites too!

Posted by
11613 posts

Best wine I've had so far was a 100% Sangiovese in a cantina near Baone, Italy. Brunello di Montalcino uses the same grape.

I will never forget the cidre and champagne in Reims.

Don't care much for Aperol but love Campari and soda; favorite non-alcoholic cold drink is milk with mint syrup on a hot day, or soda water with mint syrup).

Posted by
396 posts

Thanks, avirosemail. No fear of gendarmes (or any food/drink police) here: I'd just rather not make an elementary tourist-type mistake, and break my 'cool' cover. Thanks too for the recommendation of floc de gascogne; I'll very likely be far enough SW to try that in June.

Posted by
1884 posts

thanks for putting that one on my radar, MrsEB!

It mentions lemon verbena as one of the ingredients, and that's become a staple here in NorCal, btw.

Posted by
8100 posts

Bitter Lemon. It is the only soda/pop that I enjoy drinking. Can't seem to find it anywhere in Ohio or California. It isn't sweet like other kinds of pop.
I also enjoy the unfiltered apple juice sold at the Farmers markets in Germany.

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1884 posts

Yes, Emma -- we have San Pellegrino sodas here in northern CA although I see them most at conference snack breaks, and the Izze fruit flavored sodas often eclipse them.

What we're missing here in CA soft drinks are good birch beers and sarsaparillas -- there are a few brands shipped in but too few local producers.

Posted by
467 posts

2016:
Granville Island Winter Ale at home, Becherovka in Prague.

2017:
Looking forward to Martel in Reims and any beer in Belgium.

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304 posts

We really enjoyed the RinQuinQuin A La Pêche while we were in Provence. It is a peach wine aperitif. Served ice cold on a hot day...wonderful. Sadly, not available in the Pacific Northwest. Internet prices are prohibitively expensive. But I guess it's just another reason to visit again.

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2526 posts

Fresh beet juice. It no doubt makes me healthier and it surely tasted great.

Posted by
384 posts

Mezcal.

Now I know what you're saying: "Mike, you cheap drunk!". And you'd be half-way right. Sure, I'm a drunk, but I ain't cheap and neither is good Mezcal. You -can- get the cheap, touristy, worm-at-the-bottom brands, but then you're drinking be-maggoted paint thinner. No -- spend at least $50 a bottle on the good stuff and realize you're drinking Mexico's answer to scotch. Good Mezcal is complex as a 20-YO single malt. There's essences, layers of flavor, swirling tastes, fore-and-afternotes. Yes, it's a cousin to everyone's favorite "let's get pissed and go out fighting!" hooch, tequila, but there the similarity ends. Tequila tends to be one-note -- it can be a very GOOD note, but it's usually just a slide-whistle -- whereas good mezcal is a symphony playing Mozart, followed by a Jazz solo.

Keep in mind that good mezcal is hard to find outside the southern border states, so if you do get a chance to try some of the Nectar of Mexico, give it a shot. The worst thing that can happen is that you wake up in a Tijuana alley with a throbbing headache and someone else's shoes on your feet. Or, as I like to call it, "Tuesday".

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
6617 posts

@Ms Jo. I look for bitter lemon wherever I've been for almost ten years. I only found it once, at an upscale liquor store sold as a mixer. I have asked local shops to order it for me and was told there was no distributor carrying it in my state. Strange since Schweppes is a pretty large brand. Other lemon - flavored sodas like San Pelligrino are not the same.

Posted by
1345 posts

A few years ago I came across an article in a new magazine in a language other than English I can read.

The UK and Ireland were viewed as the most important wine markets in Europe. Because we do not produce enough to even tickle the national pallet.

In other words, we drink the wine we like. My cellar tends to be Spain, France, Italy and Argentina.

In the reverse, the Water of Life, the Uisce Bretha, must be Scottish. Everything else is a sin.

One thing you might try, from Spain, is cheap wine mixed with Coke or Coke Zero. Not sure of the percentages but I like it.

Posted by
55 posts

I've taken to making my own limoncello. It is easy and it is delicious. I know I can't get the Sfusato lemons they use in the Amalfi, but the end result tastes as good as any of the commercial stuff that I've had. Besides, the limoncello you get in Italy is likely homemade. I will be branching out into using limes and oranges next.

I've also developed a taste for grappa - farm made or otherwise.