A type of vermouth made from a mixture of wines from the south of France, spices and aged herbs. Made in Paris since 1846. 17 per cent alcohol by volume.
From its origins with the French Foreign Legion to the legions of modern mixologists still using it today, Dubonnet Rouge Aperitif Wine has been a staple on the cocktail landscape since its introduction in 1846. Created by Parisian chemist / wine merchant, Joseph Dubonnet, as a means to make quinine more palatable for the soldiers battling malaria in North Africa, Dubonnet’s mix of fortified wine, a proprietary blend of herbs, spices and peels, and the medicinal quinine is a recipe that has earned it legendary status in the world of sophisticated drinks. Nearly two centuries after its introduction, Dubonnet is the number-one selling aperitif brand in the United States, and still made according to the original family recipe. Described by Sante Magazine’s tasting panel as: “Cherry, mint and walnut aromas, with notes of lemon zest, cardamom and toffee … with flavors of orange, nuts, chocolate and coffee; finishes fairly sweet, with lemon and herb notes,” Dubonnet lends itself equally to both classic and innovative cocktails, as well as such simple preparations as chilled over ice, mixed with a splash of club soda, or combined with orange or cranberry juices. Its 19 percent alcohol content ensures a refreshing drink in the summertime, while its port-like flavors promise a hint of holiday in the winter months.
What Is An Aperitif?
Originating from the Latin word aperio, aperitifs were originally conceived to “open” or prepare the appetite for a meal. While there are different styles of aperitif, aperitif wines such as Dubonnet make up a special class of wine called “aromatized” wines – fortified wines that have been flavored with herbs, roots, flowers, barks and other botanicals. Though there is evidence that the ancient Egyptians believed in drinking a small amount of alcohol before a meal, aperitifs didn’t peak in popularity until the late 19th century – and caught on in the United States by 1900. By the turn of the century, Dubonnet was producing more than three million bottles a year and was exported throughout the world.
Dubonnet’s enduring popularity can be largely credited to its versatility. In the words of noted mixologist Dale DeGroff, “With its rich ruby color, spicy aroma, and refreshing flavors, Dubonnet embodies the best of the aperitif cocktail.” Inspiring mixologists through the ages, Dubonnet earned its own eponymous cocktail made from equal parts Dubonnet and dry gin, topped off with a splash of orange bitters – which first appeared in print in 1914, in the book Drinks by Jacques Straub, wine steward at The Blackstone in Chicago and the Pendennis Club in Louisville, KY. A century later, the likes of Brian Miller of New York’s famed Death & Co. have created the Deshler – Dubonnet, Parker’s Heritage Bourbon, Cointreau and a dash of Peychaud Bitters – while the mixologists at Gemma restaurant in New York’s Bowery Hotel serve up the Bowery Cocktail –Dubonnet, gin, brown sugar, a dash of Angostura bitters, topped with champagne and a lemon twist.
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