Inspired by an article on Chantal Chagny's terrific-sounding Auberge du Cep in the most recent issue of Saveur, and by a description of Chagny's "house cocktail" in particular, we concocted our own Apéritif Beaujolais last night for a small gathering of friends. The original Auberge du Cep recipe consists of a bottle of beaujolais, some crème de cassis, and some sweet framboise liqueur, mixed together and then served from a pot (a rustic, yet elegant earthenware pitcher) that has been chilled for a minimum of six hours. We altered this formula just a little bit, making the finished product a little less boozy and a little more seasonal. We took a bottle of beaujolais (a 2003 beaujolais-villages) and 3 oz. of crème de cassis and poured these into our favorite pitcher, our red Émile Henry. We then added 1/2 oz. of a cranberry syrup that Michelle made especially for this drink by stewing cranberries with water and sugar, placing the compote in cheesecloth, and then collecting its syrup in a bowl. We mixed the combination well, placed the pitcher in the refrigerator, and six hours later we were serving a wonderful little cocktail--crisp, light, and refreshing--alongside our cheese appetizer.
Yesterday it was still unseasonably warm and humid for this region. Our chilled beaujolais apéro made for the perfect Indian Summer beverage. Today the temperature has dropped considerably, and there's a bit of chill in the air. If we'd held our soirée tonight I'm not sure I would have served a chilled drink as the apéro--I'm already beginning to lean towards gluhwein--but with that hint of cranberry, our variation on the Apéritif Beaujolais is an ideal way to start off a Canadian Thanksgiving celebration, or any other celebration you might be having this weekend.