Essential Guide to French Aperitifs, Mistelles, Liqueurs & Eaux de Vie

Essential Guide to French Aperitifs, Mistelles, Liqueurs & Eaux de Vie (A-L)

French Aperitifs, Mistelles & Eaux de Vie

  • Absinthe – an anise flavoured high proof spirit and aperitif made with artemisia absinthium commonly known as wormwood.
  • Amer Picon – a bittersweet French aperitif with flavours of oranges, gentian and chinchona, a rare find.
  • Armagnac – an aged grape brandy that is distilled once, produced in the Gascony region of south-west France, pre-dating Cognac and often described as having a rustic style.
  • Avèze – a gentiane flavoured liqueur from the Cantal region with a bittersweet herbal profile with hints of anise, orange peel and mint.
  • Benedictine – a herbal liqueur created by wine merchant Alexandre Le Gran in the 19th century using a Cognac base with 27 herbs, roots and spices.
  • Bonal – a cross between a sweet vermouth and an amaro, made by an infusion of gentian, cinchona (quinine) and herbs of the Grande Chartreuse mountains in a mistelle base.
  • Byrrh – an aromatised wine-based apéritif made of red wine, mistelle, and quinine from Languedoc Roussillon.
  • Calvados – an apple brandy from the Normandy region usually enjoyed neat and in cocktails, also served in between courses as a trou normand to aid digestion.
  • Chamberyzette – an aperitif made with Dolin vermouth and flavoured with wild-strawberry juice.
  • Chambord – a liqueur produced in the Loire Valley made from red and black raspberries, honey, vanilla and cognac.
  • Chartreuse – a herbal liqueur with 130 different herbs, spices, roots and barks made by the Carthusian Monks according to a manuscript given to them by François Annibal d’Estrées in 1605, available in Green Chartreuse and the sweeter Yellow Chartreuse.
  • Cognac – an aged grape brandy, distilled twice and produced in and around the town of Cognac, in the Departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime.
  • Cointreau  – a bitter orange-flavoured liqueur made from a neutral spirit base produced in Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou with a similar flavour to triple sec.
  • Crème de Cassis – a type of crème de fruits, a sweet liqueur made from blackcurrants and the main ingredient in a Kir or Kir Royale (see below).
  • Domaine de Canton – a ginger liqueur with eau de vie and Cognac base flavoured with fresh Vietnamese ginger.
  • Dubonnet – a mix of fortified wine, a proprietary blend of herbs, spices and peels and quinine, available as Dubonnet Rouge and Dubonnet Blanc.
  • Eau de Vie de Framboise – a clear and colourless fruit brandy made from raspberries. Other varieties include Eau de Vie Mirabelle (yellow plum), Poire (pears), Kirsch (cherries), Reine-Claude (greengage plums), Fraise des Bois (wild strawberries), Groseilles (currants).
  • Floc de Gascogne – a mistelle obtained by adding Armagnac to fresh grape juice, a speciality of the Armagnac region, available in white and red.
  • Génépi or Genepy – a traditional herbal liqueur and aperitif made from Artemisia plants (of the wormwood family), related to Chartreuse and absinthe.
  • Grand Marnier  – a bitter orange liqueur made with a base of Cognac, distilled essence of bitter orange and sugar.
  • Kir – a popular aperitif made with white wine and crème de cassis (see above).
    • Kir Bourgogne – similar to a Kir, this Burgundy version is made with Crème de Cassis and red wine from Burgundy.
    • Kir Normand – an aperitif from Normandy made with Crème de Cassis and cider.
  • Kir Royale – another popular apéritif from the Kir family made with crème de cassis and champagne, sometimes with Crémant de Bourgogne.
  • Lillet – a wine-based aperitif (and popular cocktail modifier) from Podensac near Bordeaux, made from a a blend of wine, liqueurs, fruits and herbs, available a Lillet Blanc, Lillet Rouge and Lillet Rosé. More about Lillet cocktails here.

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Essential Guide to French Aperitifs, Mistelles, Liqueurs & Eaux de Vie was last modified: November 27th, 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.