Bonal Aperitif

Bonal is a French aperitif that shares common ground with sweet vermouth and amaro.


Bonal’s history goes back in time when Hyppolite Bonal, orphaned at the age of 12, entered the Grande Chartreuse Monastery in 1850 and became “Brother Raphael”. After studying medicine and pharmacy, he became their official doctor then set himself up as a pharmacist in 1858 in Saint Laurent du Pont. He later founded a distillery and made a popular “restorative” wine. In 1865, he created Bonal.

Bonal aperitif is made by an infusion of gentian, cinchona (quinine) and herbs of the Grande Chartreuse mountains. Unlike some recipes were the flavour of gentian is extracted by infusion in alcohol, Bonal’s botanicals are infused in a mistelle base. A mistelle is produced by adding alcohol to non-fermented or partially fermented grape juice which stops the fermentation process resulting in a drink that is sweeter than fully fermented grape juice where the sugars turn to alcohol.

The key ingredient in Bonal is the gentian root, known for its digestive and tonic properties which is why it is referred to as “ouvre l’appetit” or “open the appetite”.

Bonal Tasting Notes

  • Country of Origin: France
  • ABV: 16%
  • Colour: vivid amber hue with red copper reflections
  • Nose: herbal with sweet aromas of orange, ginger, quince, honey and spice
  • Palate: smooth, complex and bittersweet with some spice notes
  • Finish: a fine balance of bitter and sweet flavours
  • RRP: $32.99 AUD

With its balance of sweet and bitter notes, Bonal is a good choice for an aperitif served chilled or on ice with an orange twist. Use it with dark spirits, as a substitute for red vermouth, and in stirred cocktails such as a twist on a Manhattan.

Bonal is available in 750 ml bottles and is distributed in Australia by Cerbaco/Spirits of France.

In partnership with Cerbaco.

Bonal Aperitif was last modified: August 21st, 2017 by Corinne Mossati
Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of Cocktails & Bars and popular online magazine Gourmantic. She is named in the Australian Bartender Magazine Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The World’s 50 Best Bars Academy who judges the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions. Read the full bio here.