Pre-dinner pick-me-ups

07/24/2012 5:00 AM

07/25/2012 8:04 AM

In ancient times, our parents would dissolve a sugar cube with bitters, and add whiskey, ice and a twist of orange zest. That was an Old Fashioned. When in Rome, they did as the Romans did, sipping aperitifs concocted from brightly colored liqueurs and soda.

Today, young moderns are embracing light, spritzy, aperitif-based drinks as pre-dinner pick-me-ups — libations to perk up the palate before the food and wine come around.

Of course, you cannot serve cocktails or lemonade, hard or soft, without something to nibble. You can open a can of nuts or a bag of chips. But when you want a little something extra special and homemade, try cheese straws.

If you’re in a Mediterranean mood, try some sweet summer figs wrapped in salty Italian pancetta. Marinate the figs with a little brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, lemon and rosemary. Pierce them with a skewer, and grill until the figs are oozing and the pancetta is crisp.

Then pour yourself a drink.

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