French Christmas Drinks
Indulging in a French spirit this Christmas? Learn all about the origins of three of our favourite French Christmas tipples
This orange liqueur makes a great ingredient for cocktails or is delicious served neat ‘on the rocks’. It originates from Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou, just outside Angers in Pays de la Loire, where the distillery welcomes visitors keen to know more about this lovely liqueur. Though the exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, visitors can see the alambics used in the production process, learn about the different flavours that go into it and see some amazing examples of advertising collected throughout the years. You can also learn how to mix a mean cocktail with the help of their in-house barman.
If a Martini is your cocktail of choice, then the French ingredient really should be Noilly Prat. This white vermouth hails from Marseillan, where the Canal du Midi meets the Mediterranean, and was invented by the herbalist Joseph Noilly in 1813. You can visit the Maison Noilly Prat, which sits on the harbour in the pretty town, from March to November, and take a tour to find out more about the herbs and spices used to make the drink and of course taste the different varieties, including Ambre Noilly Prat, only available locally, and Red Noilly Prat. The vermouth is also great when used in cooking, as also explained on the tour, so try adding it to fish dishes à la Rick Stein’s French Odyssey.
It’s just a short hop to the home of this herbal liqueur, the current incarnation of which has been in production at the impressive gothic and renaissance Benedictine palace in the Normandy town of Fécamp since 1863. The recipe for it was discovered by Alexandre Le Grand, a merchant and collector of religious art, who discovered the recipe for this liqueur – which was originally created in 1510 - in his collection. As well as learning about the elixir’s early beginnings, you can admire Alexandre Le Grand’s amazing collection of art, sculpture, and other artworks also housed at the museum.
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