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Three reasons why brandy is the perfect festive aperitif, according to an expert

 The London EDITION barman Arnaud Volte tells us why brandy is the perfect festive aperitif, and gives us three cocktail recipes to prove it

The Christmas stocking cocktail, using Bardinet brandy

It's common for people to associate brandy as an after dinner treat, but I think it's time to change perceptions! Brandy is a versatile, delicious spirit that deserves a place of honour on your pre dinner drinks menu this season.

Arnaud Volte

Arnaud Volte

It also pairs really well with a whole host of pre-dinner nibbles, so why not take a tip from the French and host a celebratory apero, or aperitif, hour with family and friends.

Here's my three reasons to crack open the brandy for a festive aperitif:

1. This is a year to embrace tradition

Apero time in France is considered one of the most memorable parts of a dinner, especially when it comes to key gatherings such as Christmas and New Year. The custom marks family and friends being back together and involves relaxing with drinks, light snacks and great conversation. After a difficult year, where many people have been unable to see loved ones, re-connecting and enjoying the moment is more important than ever. Whether it's face-to-face or virtually via Zoom and WhatsApp, why not take some time to embrace the tradition.

2. Brandy is great pre-dinner as well as after

Despite its reputation as a dessert drink, brandy works incredibly well as a pre-dinner tipple. Crafted with French passion, Bardinet brandy in particular is incredibly versatile, its delicate aroma and mellow taste make it the perfect spirit for a whole of festive pre-dinner drinks, that can be stirred, shaken or enjoyed on with a mixer on the rocks. My cocktail creations below are simple spritzes that are a great palate opener before a big meal.

3. Change is good

So embrace it by serving a new Christmas concoction to guests. For a long time whisky, port and gin liqueurs have been firmly on the festive menu. I believe in mixing things up and trying something new, so experimenting with brandy as a pre-dinner drink appealed. There are so many different styles and flavours to choose from and different ways to serve and drink brandy, that there is bound to be a drink that you really enjoy if you explore a little.

Here's a few Bardinet brandy suggestions and accompanying snacks to get you into the Christmas spirit.

Two brandy cocktail recipes to get your festive apero going

Pomme Cannelle Spritz

Bardinet brandy pomme canelle spritz

The Pomme Canelle Spritz

The inspiration behind this is a restaurant in the South of France, where I spent last Christmas with my grandparents. Their signature dish was a cinnamon and apple pizza, and I can remember even now how beautiful and festive the smell was in the place.

Apple and cinnamon match really well with the vanilla and dry fruits notes of Bardinet.

  • 35ml Bardinet Brandy
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml cinnamon syrup
  • 20ml clear apple juice
  • Top soda water

Glass: wine glass
Garnish: Lemon wedge & cinnamon stick

To make cinnamon syrup: 

  • 100gr water
  • 100gr caster sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Method: In a pan, heat up the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Cut and add the sticks, infuse for 10/15 min. Let it cool, strain and store in the fridge for one month.

Apero food pairing: Soft and hard cheese, black pudding, tomato, salted peanuts and thyme.

Christmas Stocking Spritz [pictured]

For the second spritz, I wanted to recreate some childhood flavours and the most common sweets I used to find in my Christmas stocking was delicious caramel and orange.

Cointreau tastes amazing when paired with the brandy. And because it's Christmas, the bubbles come from a Brut champagne, highlighting the grape notes in the spirit

  • 35ml Bardinet Brandy
  • 10ml Cointreau
  • 5ml caramel syrup (Monin sugar free caramel syrup or any brand)
  • Top with very cold champagne

Method: stir ingredients for 10 sec with some ice (except champagne) and strain in a champagne flute, top with bubbles

Glass: champagne flute
Garnish: no garnish

Food pairing: Olives, roasted meat, tomato, hard cheese, cauliflower, broccoli, almonds and other nuts.

To learn more about Bardinet brandy, go to bardinet.fr 

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