Suze: One more French bitter apertif to try.

Suze: One more French bitter apertif to try.

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Yesterday we talked about Bonal Gentiane Quina. Today we move on to Suze Saveur d’Autrefois. Makes you begin to appreciate what a nice name Gin is, right?? Thankfully we’ll be shortening today’s French apertif to just Suze, pronounced exactly as it appears. Created in the late 19th century by Fernand Moureaux, Suze is said to either have been named after Moureaux’s sister-in-law Suzanne, or after a river in Switzerland. (If I was Suzanne I would be fairly annoyed about this controversy.) Suze is made from the gentian plant, also one of the main ingredients in Bonal. Unlike Bonal, however, Suze is not a fortified wine, but rather a distilled spirit, and that makes the gentian flavor quite a bit stronger. It’s fairly vegetal, like some type of greens you’d pick in the garden. That’s where the bitterness comes in, and yet there’s a citrusy sweetness here too. It has a startling bright yellow color, and it’s amazing on it’s own, over ice, or in cocktails. Just a teaspoon of it will completely transform a martini’s flavor, or you can try it in a Suze and tonic with 2 to 1 proportions, garnished with a twist of lemon or grapefruit.

Today’s cocktail is my spin on the Moulin Rouge #2, created by François Vera from Pour Vous in Los Angeles. Punchdrink.com shared his recipe on their website. I chose this drink because of its beautiful color, and because I couldn’t wait to see how the strawberry and vanilla flavors worked with 3 different types of bitters! I used Stateside vodka distilled right here in Kensington, Madagascar vanilla bean paste instead of the extract, and Scrappy’s Orleans bitters. The end result really wowed me. The bitters and the lemon juice prevent the strawberry and vanilla from being too sweet, so you have a refreshingly, crisp drink rather than one that is overly cloying. The champagne float gives the cocktail effervescence and elegance, making it another great choice for a before dinner drink during the holiday season!

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Moulin Rouge #2

1 ounce Stateside vodka
¾ ounce Amaro Nonino
½ ounce Suze*
1 barspoon Madagascar vanilla bean paste or extract
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce fresh strawberry juice from about 5 muddled strawberries
3 dashes Scrappy’s Orleans bitters
Sparkling rosé champagne to top

Add all the ingredients (except the sparkling rosé) to the bottom half of a shaker tin. Add your one large cube and 2 small (if you have them on hand) and shake for 15-20 seconds until very cold. Double strain using Hawthorne and mesh strainers into a champagne flute. Top with the rosé champagne and garnish with a strawberry. Enjoy!

*Suze can be found at Canal’s in Pennsauken or Benash Liquors in Cherry Hill.

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