Liqueurs and Aperitifs
We have been championing the range of liqueurs from Maison Gabriel Boudier in Dijon for decades as we aim to source the finest examples of anything we ship. They are best known for their celebrated Crème de Cassis that can be added to Bourgogne Aligoté to create a Kir; to Champagne for a Kir Royale or Bourgogne Pinot Noir to make the lesser-known Communard or Cardinal. That said, all of their liqueurs deploy the finest fruit available so it is worth branching out to sample their Framboises (raspberry), Fraises des Bois (wild strawberry), Mûres (blackberry) or Pêches (peach).
Pineau de Charentes is an inspired mixture of grape juice and Cognac often served with (and in) Charentais melons which makes for an uplifting and restorative starter. It is sweet but fresh-tasting and should be served chilled as a pre-prandial pick-me-up. The Gardrat brothers' 'Réserve' version is longer-aged in barrel so is deeper and darker and might be best served after a meal as a digestif.
Floc de Gascogne is a similar concept but revolves around an Armagnac rather than Cognac base. The Dèche family's version herewith is made with Merlot grape juice giving a garnet colour. It too should be chilled and is traditionally served as an appetite enhancer.
Ratafia de Champagne extends the concept into more northerly climes. It was traditionally beloved by sailors because it could stand the perils and privations of life at sea, Gilles Dumangin's seems equally popular amongst landlubbers and makes a stylish conclusion to any repast – excepting perhaps ship's biscuit.
Rounding off our drinks trolley is the product of local hero Julian Temperley who uses Kingston Black apples to produce his seductive Somerset sharpener. Somerset cider brandy is topped up with unfermented cider apple juice to give a Somerset equivalent to Ratafia, Floc or Pineau. Chill it well, admire its decorative label and think of England.