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An education in Aperitifs

Described as a drink that ‘stimulates the appetite and prepares the palate for food’, an aperitif is the perfect precursor to any savoury meal.

Traditional offerings include chilled dry sherry (sipped from a small stemmed glass), vermouth (over ice in a tall glass) and Campari (on the rocks or with orange). However, if you’re faced with a wide ranging drinks menu and are unsure of what aperitif to order, we’ve listed below 8 of the most popular choices.

Martini – This drink is a classic (and well known thanks to a certain Mr Bond!) and is a good choice because of its adaptability. There are quite a few variations, but our bar staff at Selhurst Park advise first timers to try it in its original form with gin, stirred, and straight up. Although 007 is never pictured eating in his films, a foodie tipoff is to follow this aperitif with a vegetarian pasta dish.

Gimlet – Often served at summer dinner parties, this cocktail is light and refreshing and is made of gin and lime juice. Like the Martini, the Gimlet is only made up of two ingredients and means the quality and ratio is essential to the balance of flavour. Serve on a warm summer’s evening and have before sitting down to barbeque food.

Manhattan – One of the oldest cocktails to exist, the Manhattan dates back more than one hundred years but still remains one of the most popular. Made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, this aperitif is often stirred and strained into a cocktail glass where it is garnished with a cherry (stem included).

Rob Roy – The Rob Roy is a cocktail that people tend to drink as an alternative to a Martini. Sweet and smoother in taste, it’s a good choice on a cold evening. Like a Martini, a Rob Roy can be made ‘sweet’, ‘dry’, or ‘perfect’ but there is no need to specify ordering it ‘sweet’, as this aperitif is already made with sweet vermouth. Our post tipple food tip is to drink before a hearty meat based oven dish.

Negroni – Described as the ultimate in aperitifs, Negroni is believed to originate from Florence (Italy) and is made of gin, vermouth rosso (red, semi-sweet), and Campari, garnished with orange peel. It is a sweeter version of the classic Martini, and the orange in the cocktail works well with food that has a citrus glaze or marinade.

Campari Cocktail – Campari cocktails rank high on the list as an elegant pre-dinner drink, but for those who have never had Campari, the bright red liquid (which is often mistaken for being sweet!) masks a surprise. This stuff is bittersweet and is definitely an acquired taste. Order a Campari with soda in a 50:50 ratio, a lot of ice, and have with olives, or tapenade spread on toast.

Martinez – Thought to be the grandfather of the Martini, the Martinez has the addition of triple sec and orange bitters which bring a taste of citrus to its predecessor. The Martinez has equal parts gin and sweet vermouth, a teaspoon of maraschino liqueur, and either Angostura or orange bitters. Meal suggestions include any Asian dish or lightly spiced finger food.

Adonis – A dry Spanish sherry is used in an Adonis and a little like the Manhattan, it combines two basic ingredients in sherry and sweet vermouth, with the nuttiness of the sherry a perfect partner for the vermouth. Serve this cocktail before a Mexican dinner like Fajitas or spicy Enchiladas with salad.