At the warmer end of Europe the aperitif and digestif tradition is in historical decline. Laws aimed at reducing drink-driving have eroded the pre- and after-dinner drinking occasions. But against this trend we find another in contrast. The aperitif culture has spread to the bars of the world’s big cities, where people have other means of transport.
These days if you happen to be thirsty in London’s West End at aperitif hour, take a newspaper because there may well be queues. At Artesian at the Langham Hotel, this is the busiest time of day and even guests with rooms upstairs aren’t guaranteed entry.
Since we’ve been asking bars about their top selling aperitifs the answer has always been Campari.Big city hipsters are knocking back Negronis like they might one day come into fashion and Americanos are on the brink of renaissance.
In 28 of the 100 asked bars Campari is numero uno.
Cocchi vermouth is a top seller in 9% of polled bars. According to Ohla Boutique Bar in Barcelona “it is very trendy, popular and of very good quality”. The Italian brand is the go-to vermouth in our polled bars right now. Campari-owned Aperol, buoyed by the spritz trend, comes in third.
Perhaps the digestif category is in a different place to its pre-meal amis. Brown spirits are booming but they are too popular to be restricted to a small glass after a big meal, so we are left with bitters.
Fernet Branca is by far the most popular here, with 32% of bars naming it their number one digestif – although how much of this is inter-industry imbibing is unclear.
At Imperial Craft, the Fernet Branca fixation is strong. “It’s the bartender’s shot and we get a lot of industry [people] who do shots,” they say.
What Chartreuse’s secret is, only two monks in a monastery in France know. They guard the recipe to the 130-plant infused elixir and ain’t telling anyone.
In today’s world of marketing hyperbole, that is a rarity. Still, the message seems to have got to bartenders. “We like to think we are knowledgeable about Chartreuse. It then becomes very easy to sell,” Little Red Door in Paris tells us.
In third spot is Jägermeister, which isn’t known to be a favourite of bartenders, but the customer is always right.
HOW WE DID IT
We spoke to the World’s 50 Best Bars for this poll but in order to have a broader set of results we widened the net to include responses from a total of 100 of the top bars in the world - as voted for by our World's 50 Best Bars Academy.
We asked bar owners and head bartenders from these 100 top bars to name the Best Selling and Top Trending brands behind their bars. For more information about our methodology see here.
Day by day we will take you through the overall Best Selling and Top Trending spirits, and into the categories - from tequila, gin,vodka, rum, liqueurs, Scotch, World Whiskies, Brandy, aperitifs and digestifs, champagne, beer, water and tonic water to the best brands for cocktails.