Ever since Bergli released How to Drink Like the Swiss, I've been meaning to give some of the more extraordinary drinks a shot. I flipped through the book and initially came up with about five or six drinks I wanted to try. That seemed excessive (and expensive, especially being in Switzerland), so I narrowed it down to two, the Abricotine Spritzer and the Suissesse.
I was intrigued by the Abricotine Spritzer because of its unique ingredients, and the Suissesse because I unequivocally love all things mint.
What makes the Abricotine Spritzer so intriguing (at least to me), is that you infuse the Abricotine with saffron. Of course the Swiss would infuse their cocktails with the most expensive spice on earth!
With the ingredients in hand, I gathered some friends and family to join in the tasting.
We started off with the Abricotine Spritzer, assuming that any drink with the word spritzer in it would be nice and light to start of with. PSA: this is not a weak starter cocktail! Almost immediately, I realized I'd grossly misjudged this drink. My initial impression of a light, breezy drink couldn’t have been farther from reality. The sheer volume of Abricotine in my shaker made it clear we were starting off with a bang.
In hindsight, I certainly didn't need to make six servings for six people, in fact, I bet we would have all been content with just half that. Too late to do anything about this conclusion, I decided to just go with it.
I started by putting the saffron in the Abricotine to steep, and waited.
The Abricotine went from clear to pale yellow and finally took on a deep golden hue. Once the saffron had steeped long enough, I poured the Abricotine into the glasses and strained apricot jam over it. Finally, we added the sparkling wine and gave it a stir! The apricot jam didn't completely dissolve, but formed a little cluster that coated the bottom of the glass. Because of the sparkling wine and the gorgeous glasses we were using, the jam sparkled like jewels.
After trying the drink and realizing how potent it was, we all went back to the kitchen and topped our glasses off with more sparkling wine, hoping to cut the strong Abricotine flavor some.
The drink clearly tastes of saffron, which to be honest, I wasn't really expecting. It isn't sweet at all, although you could probably adjust it quite a bit depending on the kind of sparkling wine you use. I might even consider swapping the sparkling wine out for some other carbonated drink next time, because, if I haven't already reiterated this enough, it was a strong drink!
My mom described this drink as a 'grown up drink', and because it lacked in sweetness, and I'd have to agree. It was slightly bitter and definitely not something to chug down in a hurry, but rather the perfect drink to sip on as the night wears on.
This is the kind of drink that'd you'd love if you like to experiment with flavors and techniques.
For the next drink, the Suissesse, we'd learned our lesson and cut back on the number of servings. Some people were already pretty sure they wouldn't like this one, and those of us who did knew we'd be content with a taste. This drink is fairly quick and easy, just keep shaking. You add equal parts of crème de menthe, absinthe and cream, one egg white and shake the mixture over ice. The commotion quickly attracted our guest of honor, Samea, who couln't figure out what was going on, but certainly wanted in on it.
We split the drink into shot glasses and still ended up sipping on it for a while. It tastes, as you might expect, of mint, with a hint of licorice (thanks, absinthe). The cream gives it a nice smoothness, and helps with the strength. The most widely agreed upon description was toothpaste. I’ll let you decide whether drinking toothpaste sounds like a good or a bad idea. Personally, I loved it.
What I love about the bok is how easy it is to use. The illustrations make this book even more user friendly – most recipes hardly require any reading – much less intimidating for cocktail novices like me. While you don’t need to read, Andie’s anecdotes on how saffron made it to Switzerland, why absinthe was banned in 1908 and how the Swiss Beer Cartel collapsed are certainly worth a peek.
While some of my friends and family had varying tastes, overall the drinks were a hit, and I’ll definitely be trying more. You can check the book out here. If you give them a shot, let us know how they turn out!