Today’s burning question is will Queen Elizabeth have a glass of Guinness when she visits the Guinness Storehouse?
I think not! Although my own grandmother relished a glass of Guinness for medicinal reasons, somehow I can’t see Her Majesty with a creamy moustache.
So what would Mary McAleese, our most gracious and admirable hostess have served to her guest as an aperitif in Farmleigh? An aperitif is designed to get the gastric juices flowing, and create an appetite, so it should be quite sharp and full of flavour. Well, I have it on good authority that the Queen’s favourite tipple, handed down from the Queen Mother, is gin & dubonnet… together.
Dubonnet is a wine-based aperitif which is flavoured with herbs and quinine. It was originally created to ward off malaria for French Foreign Legionnaires in north Africa. Alongside vermouth, Dubonnet serves a useful purpose in utilising the vast amounts of wine produced in France, since France is the world’s largest wine producer.
Although is carries a significant alcohol level of 14.7%, apparently in the royal household it is used liberally, as a mixer for gin. The Queen Mother is rumoured to have liked hers mixed 3 parts gin to 1 part Dubonnet. Her more abstemious daughter prefers it 1 part gin to 2 parts Dubonnet. It is poured over ice, and while the Queen Mother held off until dinner time, the Queen prefers it as a pre-lunch aperitif!
This information is courtesy of a remarkable little book called ‘How to Drink,’ beautifully composed by Victoria Moore, who is a seasoned writer on wine and drinks. If like me, you enjoy wine, and really relish the flavours in food and drink, you will find this a delightful read. It offers up super tips on all manner of drinks, from tea to wine to gin, and includes recipes for nibbles to enjoy with them. It is not, much to my mother’s disappointment, a guide to how to drink less…. I haven’t started drinking pre-lunch aperitifs yet, mother!
Now, as it’s nearing 6 o’clock, where is Victoria’s recipe for her all-time favourite aperitif, Negroni? Ah yes, one third each of gin, red vermouth and Campari…mmm.