Nothing is smoother after a nice dinner than a little after-dinner treat. In Scandinavia, we often use the phrase «avec», meaning «with». It’s a French word, and just means that you should enjoy a little glass after dinner, «le petit verre». We have seen it on television and in various movies where people enter a library or lounge for an after-dinner drink. Often for a Brandy, in a traditional setting, and with a rather small selection of after-dinner varieties.
The use of «avec» is there because it is often served «with» something. In Scandinavia with coffee, in Central-Europe with dessert, elsewhere often with a cake or chocolate – Whatever you prefer, a little treat of a classic alcoholic beverage is a fantastic end to a pleasant dinner. «Coffee avec le petit verre».
Traditionally, lots of spirits and liquor were classed as medicine back in the old days. Like one of the oldest liqueurs on the market, the «DOM Benedictine». From France, and with its first distillation in the year 1510.
Made as a stomach healer, and today a widely used liqueur in both cocktails and on its own. One example out of many, and a challenger to the classic use of Brandy.
Finding your favourite after-dinner digestif is an interesting an fun experience. To try new varieties and selections is both educational and joyful.
The world of beverage and liquor is tremendous, and a good place to start is to go for the classics: Cognac from Charente in France – Brandy from Jerez in Spain – The liqueur Cointreau from Angers, France; made of orange peels – Italian Grappa, a re-distilled grape product – Mandarine Napoleon Liqueur from Belgium, made of mandarin and Cognac – Rhum from Guatemala. Or Grand Marnier, Amaretto, Limoncello, Xantè, Armenian Brandy, Armagnac, Calvados… the suggestions go on and on.
The point is to find that one you love. Sweet, strong, rough, acidic, soft, fruity. You know what you like the best, and the process of tasting varieties out of your normal range and habits is recommended.
In hospitality, we serve after-dinner treats quite often. In private households, this is normal. The upselling possibility is huge in a restaurant or bar. In private, you want the best for your guests. The skills, know-how and craftsmanship of your employees is, therefore, a necessity. Your waiter, bartender or Butler should be able to recommend, to inform, and to talk about your house selection of liquor and liqueurs.
Investing in your staff is always essential. They are the people who shall sell, pour and serve your after-dinner drink. Knowledge is crucial for the ultimate guest experience. Private household, hotel, cruise ship or restaurant…all the same knowledge is required.
Avec, «with» – The perfect end to a meal, and a neat start for a successful after-dinner evening. So broaden your horizons on Brandy and it`s acquaintances…check, read, ask about and taste new varieties.
From there you will learn more about yours and your guests’ favourites. It could be a classic cheap liqueur from France, a special grape distillate from the US, or a Selden Georgian Brandy.
Find out for yourself and never be scared of trying new after-dinner experiences.
«A day without Brandy is like a life without laughter…»
Written by Tore Berger: F&B Consultant & Professional Butler founder of Berger Consulting