Saturday, October 3, 2009


In the French spirit. . .

Suffice it to say that English words have always had a way of creeping into the French language. Like week-end, e-mail or the less likely white spirit for paint thinner.

A French friend told me about a charming blooper she made in her younger, more innocent days: while on a balcony having apéritifs before a dinner party, she accidentally brushed her skirt against some wet paint, peinture fraîche. (People are the same everywhere, always sprucing up at the last minute before having guests over.) 

When her host noticed the smudge on her skirt he asked her if she wanted some white spirit. Voulez-vous du white spirit? Thinking that it was a cocktail, she replied, "Oui, j'en veux bien si vous en prenez."  Yes, if you have one, too. . .

At apéritif time every Frenchman's grandmother used to serve Guignolet, a sweet cherry liqueur originating in Dijon. Gabriel Boudier, a French reference in fruit liqueurs, is given credit for creating Guignolet in 1874,  which is obtained by macerating the guigne cherry variety. Once a lady's apéritif of choice with its delicate cherry parfum and pretty ruby robe, the old-fashioned Guignolet which has long been relegated to the back of liquor cabinets, is inching its way forward as an inventive ingredient in cocktails and recipes.

For a very vintage apéritif, serve chilled at 8°C (46°F); or frappé poured over shaved ice. In cooking, lightly sautéed cherries are glazed with Guignolet for dessert toppings and fillings, or to accompany turkey, pheasant or duck.

Dessert idea: I think chilled Guignolet is best served over vanilla ice-cream.

Recipe for a Guignolo cocktail: 
In a champagne flute mix 3/10 natural cherry juice, 2/10 Guignolet, and 5/10 Champagne. Decorate with a preserved cherry or une cerise à l'eau de vie.

Apéritif, in French a masculine noun, is a drink taken before lunch or dinner to stimulate the appetite. Attention, there's the adjective form used to say une boisson apéritive. Or for short, the more youthful apéro (masculine noun).

For another easy cocktail recipe, see Recipe for a Hypocrite

Text & photos ©2009 P.B. Lecron

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