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Cocktails and Apéros

Eating outside is one of the great joys of life here in SW France, as is the fabulous apéro tradition.

A former UK Sommelier of the Year and winner of the Mondavi award for the best wine list in the world, John Gilchrist has been in the hospitality industry for 30 years and now runs a gîte and cookery school in SW France with his wife and chef, Emma.

Emma and John

John writes: “There are not many things better than sitting in the sun with some good food, great friends and a drink or two. We entertain a lot whether it’s Apéro with friends, with our holidaying guests or during our cookery school, always beginning with fizz or wine cocktails.

For a bit of fun we often let our guests make their own “Kir Royals” by filling a large bucket with ice and bottles of white Crémant de Bordeaux, and letting them choose from different flavoured syrups or crèmes. Our favourite flavours are Crème de Mûre (Blackberry), Cassis (Blackcurrant), Fleur de Sureau (Elderflower), Violette, Abricot, Pêche and Framboise( Raspberry).

Other cocktails which are good on a hot day are wine fizzes or spritz as they have lots of sparkling water or lemonade in them. For a Rose Spritz fill a large jug with ice and pour in a bottle of local rosé, add sparkling water or lemonade to taste and garnish with lots of lemon slices and sprigs of rosemary.

I also love the very refreshing and quaffable Passion fruit Aperol spritz. Here’s my version: A large jug filled with ice and local rosé, 75ml Passoã (Brazilian Passion fruit liqueur), 75ml Aperol (Orange liqueur flavoured with rhubarb, roots and flowers), 100ml Passion fruit juice and a bottle sparkling water.

For a “grown up Champagne cocktail” my go to drink is the citrusy, fizzy wine and gin classic cocktail, French 75. In frozen Champagne glasses, add a splash (10ml) of lemon juice and the same of gin and sugar syrup (syrup de canne from most supermarkets) topped up with sparkling wine and garnished with a thin strip of lemon peel. This does pack a bit of a punch but is a great drink that really gets your appetite going.

Enjoy the sun. Bonne santé


First published in the May/June 2019 issue of The Local Buzz

Images: Les Caulins and Shutterstock