I find it somewhat bittersweet that so many people have images like the one on the left hanging on their living room wall, yet have little idea as to what the art is actually advertising. Granted, Campari has become a pretty widespread and well-known commodity (thanks to modern twists on their printed press which substitutes the clown for a scantily-dressed Selma Hayek), but I never, and I mean never, see anyone order Campari on the rocks or Campari and soda when sitting at the bar. No one is ordering Lillet, Carpano Antica, Dubonnet, Ricard, Pernod, or Aperol either. These products are relics from a golden age of drinking and we know this because Cost Plus World Market sells 4x6 prints that people think make their apartment look more retro.
Despite the fact that 90% of the planet doesn't know what these spirits are or even how to drink them, they are making a huge comeback and I couldn't be more excited. While the foundation of the resurgence is seemingly founded in the classic cocktail scene, I think that the casual consumer is more likely to gravitate toward simple constructions involving the bare necessities of ice and soda water. People need to learn why European culinary cultures have been draining glasses of aperitif spirits for more than a century - there is a reason. Less filling than a beer and less powerful than a cocktail, a glass of pastis and water on the rocks is a pre-meal must for the entire south of France because it lubricates the nerves and stimulates the palate, waking up your appetite for some serious eating. A Dolin Blanc on the rocks with a twist is the perfect way to start a warm summer evening, and a bit of Aperol can do wonders for a glass of sparkling wine.
Starting this week I am going to start documenting some of these products and shedding a bit more light into some newer ones we will be purchasing. I hope that my excitement and the quality of these bottles will convince some of you to give them a shot. Get ready.