Apéritifs – The Wine Bar’s Answer to the Common Cocktail

Last Sunday, we went to a house warming party of our dear friend and MFer Gaylin. Her new home is an architectural marvel perched on a hill overlooking mountains on all sides. On sunny spring days like today, with all the mountain ranges visible, all I want to do is sit out on her balcony and sip on some rosé.

Of course, Gaylin didn’t throw a humdrum house warming party… She brought in two of Seattle’s finest – Chris Horn and Harry Mills – the sommelier and head chef for Purple Wine Bar. I grabbed an oyster and struck up a conversation with the affable gentleman next to me. After finding out that I was talking to THE Chris Horn, I proceeded to fan-girl out and literally quoted his tidbits from his far from ordinary wine list. Chris is the rare wine guy that has absolutely zero pretense in his approach to wine and would be just good at giving you the perfect white to go with your shigoku as he would the perfect red to go with your Spaghetti Os.

So in honor of rosé season and Chris being a stand-up dude, I thought I’d share his quick thoughts on apéritif wines, the perfect companion to 5pm springtime sun.


Apéritifs – The wine bar’s answer to the common cocktail

Here are five good reasons to skip the cocktail and order an apéritif:

1) You’ve put your mouth through an awful lot already today, and since you can’t order a toothbrush from the bar, this is the next best thing.
2) Sure, cocktails can be cleansing – but they also tend to pack a lot of booze into one glass. An apéritif is designed to erase the day, but not erase your brain.
3) They will prepare you mentally and physically to eat. Like a pep talk and a rub down for your mouth and soul.
4) They are complex experiences — the amount of time and ingredients that go into the average apéritif makes most cocktails look like the word “drink” written in crayon.
5) They are delicious.


This little list changed my life when it introduced me to Lillet. I almost read this verbatim at that castle in Provence last autumn as we sipped on this lovely apéritif from just outside Bordeaux. The stuff is good. And I don’t mean good in that, “oh this is nice” sense. I mean good in that “how did I survive before having tasted this” sense.

So after work, go get yourself a bottle of Lillet Rosé, pour yourself a glass over ice with a twist and get outside to enjoy the springtime sun.

Oh, and check out Chris and Harry’s book, because life’s too short to be afraid of wine.