Tobacco flavoured vodka…
Normally, I wouldn’t include a shandy here, but the label says ‘lemonade flavoured’, so I guess it qualifies.
Why do some people prefer bitter drinks?
There’s been a wave of popularity for drinks like the Aperol spritz, the Negroni, and a host of cocktails flavoured with “bitters”. Why are people turning their backs on sweet cocktails in favour of a bitter taste?
The last two decades have seen an extraordinary resurgence in cocktail-making on both sides of the Atlantic, with everything from Cointreau-sweetened Cosmopolitans to sugary Mojitos being drunk in vast quantities.
But there is now a definite trend towards bitter drinks. People are ordering whisky or gin-based drinks paired with vermouths. And there is growing interest in the US, UK and other European nations in Italian amari.
These complex, herbal, bittersweet drinks, with names like Averna, Ramazzotti, Montenegro and Fernet Branca, are usually consumed as aperitivi or digestivi – drinks thought to either encourage the appetite before dinner or help with digestion afterwards.
Their bitter mixer cousins, Cynar, Campari and Aperol, are increasingly being used in cocktails.
Aperol – based on bitter orange and rhubarb and containing classic bitter ingredients like gentian and cinchona (a source of quinine) – has rocketed in popularity in recent years following a push by owner Gruppo Campari.
Sales rose 156% in the UK in 2012 and 56% in the US. This year’s figures, announced soon, are expected to be even bigger. A poster campaign in the UK encourages people to try an Aperol spritz – prosecco sparkling wine and soda water mixed with Aperol.
A fundamental point of the spritz is its low alcohol content. Aperol’s slogan is “poco alcolico”, roughly meaning a little bit alcoholic.
“I think the Aperol spritz was probably the most asked-for drink in the outdoor areas of most decent bars in London this summer,” says World Duty Free mixologist Charlie McCarthy.
Laura Tallo, from Nonna’s Italian Cucina in Bath, says many British drinkers have returned after holidays in Italy, having seen certain drinks paired with tavola calda – the selection of hot, freshly-baked food.
“People are definitely beginning to embrace the Italian custom of drinking aperitifs. We have seen a definite trend emerging of people choosing classic Italian pre-dinner drinks such as an Aperol spritz, Negroni [equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth], Americano or Martini,” she says.
Such drinks are not to everyone’s taste, of course. While many Italians have been brought up around the tradition of amari, they can baffle non-Italian palates at first taste.
“They say of a Negroni the first two or three sips you despise, and after you have had two or three drinks you start to like it,” says Tom Ross, bars manager of the Polpo restaurant group in London.
The taste of Fernet Branca – vaguely minty but with pungent undertones of cough medicine – is so powerful that comedian Bill Cosby constructed a seven-minute anecdote around his initial horror on encountering the drink in Italy. And yet Fernet is loved by many, being drunk with cola in Argentina and – accompanied by a separate shot of ginger beer – known as the “bartender’s handshake” in San Francisco.
One of the first recorded definitions of a cocktail was in a New York journal in 1803, which classified it as a mixture of any “spirituous liquor”, with water, sugar and “bitters”, known at the time as a bittered sling.
You can find the descendant of these traditional bitters (with the term typically referring to both singular and plural) in any decent bar in the UK or US. There’ll be a rather unusual bottle among the others – small with a yellow top and an oversized label covered in small print. It is the world’s most famous cocktail bitters, Angostura.
This bitters is the key ingredient in pink gin, the traditional officers’ cocktail in the Royal Navy. It’s also the bedrock of famous cocktails, including the Old Fashioned, beloved of Mad Men’s Don Draper, and the Manhattan. A supply shortage in 2009 caused panic throughout the world’s bartending community, according to McCarthy, and prompted bartenders to start making their own.
The current wave of speakeasy-type bars inspired by the prohibition years in the US, has prompted interest in traditional and hitherto forgotten cocktails. This in turn has prompted demand for more unusual bitters.
Bob Petrie, of Bob’s Bitters, started in 2005 when he was approached by the Dorchester Hotel to create a range.
Traditional bitters are very complex, with aromatic flavours brought out from a combination of barks, roots, herbs, and spices by macerating them in alcohol. He looked at pairing them with the “botanicals” in gin, and came up with a range including cardamom, chocolate, coriander, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, liquorice, orange and mandarin, peppermint and vanilla.
It’s In Your Genes And Maybe, In Your Head
There’s no question that cilantro is a polarizing herb. Some of us heap it onto salsas and soups with gusto while others avoid cilantro because it smells like soap and tastes like crushed bugs.
Some people despise the lacy green herb so much that there’s even an I Hate Cilantro website. There, cilantrophobes post haikus expressing their passionate anger and disgust at the leafy green: “Such acrid debris! This passes as seasoning? Socrates’ hemlock!” writes user Dubhloaich.
But what separates the cilantro lovers from the haters? Is it hard-wired in our genes, as Harold McGee suggested a few years ago in the New York Times, or can we learn to enjoy cilantro if we associate its flavor with fresh fish tacos or bowls of spicy pho? It’s probably not so simple.
Two studies published this week link the aversion for cilantro with specific genes involved in taste and smell. But, just like the flavors of the herb itself, the findings are nuanced: The genes appear to influence our opinion of cilantro but probably not as much as we initially thought.
Geneticists at 23andMe in California asked about 25,000 people whether they like cilantro or think it smells soapy. When they searched the people’s DNA for regions that correlate with a distaste for the herb, a single spot jumped out. And, it sits right next to a cluster of odor-detecting genes, including one that is known to specifically recognize the soapy aromas in cilantro’s bouquet. (They’ll analyze your genome, too, for $299.)
Source: npr the Salt Read more
Well, I had no idea. I love cilantro.
I know the herb and spice as coriander, it appears that Americans have taken to speaking more Spanish than they think calling it cilantro.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also known as cilantro, Chinese parsley, coentro or dhania.
All parts of the plant can be used, leaves, roots and seeds.
Coriander, like many spices, contains antioxidants, which can delay or prevent the spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. It has been used as a folk medicine for the relief of anxiety and insomnia in Iran and a diuretic in India when mixed with cumin. Coriander has also been documented as a traditional treatment for diabetes. A study on mice found coriander extract had both insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity. – Wikipedia