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Liz Barclay

3 Things to Know About Apértifs and Digestifs

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Liz Barclay

Tucked away in the back of cocktail menus are the mysterious drinks known as apéritifs and digestifs. (In 1846, French chemist Joseph Dubonnet mixed malaria-fighting quinine with wine, adding herbs and spices to cut the bitter flavor. Voilà! The modern apéritif was born.) They might seem like intimidating, acquired tastes, but these traditional pre- or post-meal sippers are favored at all hours by bartenders—and for good reason.

Just ask Sother Teague, founding cocktail director of New York City bitters bar Amor y Amargo (“Love and Bitters”). “There are dozens of botanicals, herbs, and florals in here,” Teague says, pulling a bottle of Amaro Montenegro, one of the most ubiquitous digestifs, off the shelf. “It starts off with notes of bitter orange and orange blossom, has a center that’s very floral, and finishes with wet vegetables like cucumber and celery. It doesn’t need to be in a cocktail—it is a cocktail!”

No two drinking bitters are alike. After the base of a grain alcohol or wine, each is its own proprietary blend of herbs, florals, fruits, vegetables, or aromatics. A drinking bitter can be thick, syrupy, bittersweet, and downright tart, or light, airy, and ethereally delicate. They have one thing in common, though: Between their variety, mystique, and incredible range of flavors, they’re a taste anyone can acquire.

Here are three things to know:

1. THEY DO AID DIGESTION.

“You’re hardwired to perceive bitterness as poison,” Teague says. Even if they don’t taste completely bitter on your tongue, these herbs are detected by your brain, which then sends your stomach signals to, as he explains, “get that stuff out of here”—hence, helping the digestive process move a little more swiftly along.

2. ARE APÉRITIFS AND DIGESTIFS THE SAME THING?

They generally have similar flavor profiles and are 16-24 percent alcohol. “Truthfully, there’s no difference,” says Teague. “It’s just tradition. We just decided that lighter drinking bitters (Lillet, Campari, Aperol) are apéritifs. The darker, richer ones (amari, Fernet, Jägermeister) are digestifs.”

3. YES, JÄGERMEISTER COUNTS.

The college hangover-giver gets an unfair rap. It’s actually an excellent digestif, and one of Teague’s go-tos. His advice: Stop freezing it like they do in college! Cold compresses Jäger’s aroma, which means you miss its floral nuances and only taste bitterness. Keep it room temperature, sniff, then slowly sip. It’ll become one of your favorite bottles in the liquor cabinet.

The starter kit: Teague suggests stocking these bottles in your bitters bar. From left, Aperol, Jägermeister, Lillet Blanc, Amaro Nonino, Meletti, Amaro Montenegro, and Campari. Photo credit: Liz Barclay



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New Pop Chart Lab Poster Is a Boozy Blueprint For Making Classic Cocktails
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Pop Chart Lab's posters combine design with data, and their latest offering—a full breakdown of the ingredients in 60 classic cocktails—is no exception. From the exact ratio of gin and tonic that should go into a G & T (2 ounces and 4 ounces, respectively) to the garnishes you'll need to make a proper Tom Collins (a maraschino cherry and a lemon twist), the 3-foot-by-2-foot "Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" artwork teaches mixology basics you'd typically learn in bartending school, sans tuition fee.

In addition to mainstays like the Negroni and the Whiskey Sour, the poster also includes relatively obscure drinks (ever heard of the Golden Dawn, or the Journalist?), which you can attempt after drinking your way through your favorite concoctions. Before you know it, you'll be explaining to your friends the intricacies of why you should stir martinis instead of shaking them (sorry, James Bond), or the difference between a highball and a Collins glass. Bottoms up!

"Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" costs $37, and is currently available for pre-order. Shipping begins on Friday, October 20, 2017. (To see the poster's details up close, visit Pop Chart Lab's website and click on the diagram.)

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Attention Beer Lovers: A London Brewery Is Hiring a Professional Taste-Tester
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Beer lovers aren’t given many chances to discuss their passion for imbibing at job interviews. But a new open position at London's Meantime Brewing Company lists that expertise as one of the top qualifications. As Fortune reports, the brewery is seeking a professional beer taster to help improve its products.

The brewery’s part-time employee will “join the panel brewers as they taste, discuss, and pass opinion on a range of different beers,” according to the job listing on LinkedIn. On top of steady access to free booze three hours a week, the taster will receive a competitive salary “with beer benefits.” As the description reads: “Yes, this could just be the best job in the world.”

Meantime isn’t just considering any casual beer drinker for the role. Their ideal candidate will have a precise palate that can distinguish “chocolate malt from dark malt” and “Fuggles from Cascade hops.” They will also have an understanding of global consumer markets, a functioning knowledge of English, and an extensive beer vocabulary. The brewery is located in the London borough of Greenwich, so applicants who aren’t local should be willing to relocate.

Founded in 1999, the Meantime Brewing Company made its name on the beer scene with signature beverages like their London Lager, London Pale Ale, and Yakima Red. If you’re interested in joining the team, post 30 words on your LinkedIn profile explaining why you deserve the gig, along with any photos or videos that may help your case, with the hashtag #pickmemeantime. The company will narrow down the pool to three candidates for an in-person beer tasting before deciding their top pick. Meanwhile, you can prepare for the job by brushing up on your beer facts.

[h/t Fortune]

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