Serving liqueurs to guests might seem rather old-fashioned, but we’re backing them for a comeback. Rather like cardigan-wearing, you’ve got to get it just right to avoid looking like you’ve just stepped off the set of ‘Ashes to Ashes’ but, done well, they’re deliciously enjoyable.
So out with the Blue Bols and cheese footballs, in with the Kingston Black apple apéritif, served ice-cold with Montgomery Cheddar, Floc de Gascogne with Foie Gras or Pineau des Charentes with melon skewered and a sliver of Bayonne ham.
All three of the above are produced by exactly the same method, where distilled grape spirit is added to lightly fermenting grape juice (or apple juice in the case of the former) to arrest fermentation and create a marvelous admixture. This year we discovered Domaine Gardrat’s fine ‘Reserve’ Pineau that is cask-aged and is dangerously decadent, as memorably described by Victoria Moore in The Guardian:
‘This one is stunning. It feels like a caress and when you take a sip is so good that you stop talking. It tastes gloriously mellow, of plump, alcohol-soaked raisins, of prunes, walnuts and the smell of freshly ground coffee, of preparing for Christmas but also of late summer sun.’