It seems like people in the drinks industry, me included, have been singing the praises of wine based aperitifs for a number of years now. Bartenders and hard core cocktail nerds have been serving up and sipping on various amari and fortified wines since the craft cocktail resurgence this past decade.
It’s an incredibly versatile cocktail ingredient, pairs well with food and is a lovely low ABV option to have it on its own. But it’s taken the average consumer a hot second to wrap their palates around this product that’s not quite wine…not quite spirit. The spritz craze has helped to change all that, and new kid on the block Lo-Fi Aperitifs are HERE FOR IT.
Founded in 2016 in San Francisco as a collab between the world’s largest family owned winery, E&J Gallo and designer and drinks industry veteran, Steven Grasse – creator of Hendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum – Lo-Fi’s roots have some serious gravitas behind it. Not to mention, the bottles are major eye candy.
But what about what’s INSIDE those swoon-worthy bottles? While Lo-Fi Aperitifs has been testing out the market since their launch in 2016 in northern California and the east coast, they only recently officially launched in Los Angeles, and I was able to try all three of their products – a Dry Vermouth, a Sweet Vermouth and a wine based Gentian Amaro. I was blown away by how delicious each of these was on its own and immediately inspired to work them into cocktails.
Vermouth has gotten a bad wrap for too long. Those dusty bottles in the back bar that turned when you weren’t paying attention? Recent history, folks! I’ve seen the future of vermouth and Lo-Fi is doing some magical things with the category.
There are two vermouths in Lo-Fi’s product line, both are incredible on their own, and I HAVE to emphasize that, but I also love playing with them in simple cocktails where they really shine. I’ve always been a fan of a 50/50 martini with an aperitif that can stand up to a quality gin. The Lo-Fi Martini is no exception.
Lo-Fi’s Dry Vermouth skews slightly sweeter with tons of citrus, a touch of elderflower and anise and subtle spice. It pairs well with a London-style dry gin and a lemon twist. For this iteration, I thought I’d bring out the savory aspects a bit more by adding a green olive garnish.
1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin
1 1/2 oz Lo-Fi Dry Vermouth
dash of aromatic bitters
Stir ingredients over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with green olives.
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite from the three Lo-Fi products, but I have to say their Sweet Vermouth has got to be one of the most delicious fortified wines I’ve ever had.
The flavor profile is surprisingly complex and easy drinking at the same time. Cocoa, orange peel, cinnamon, and stone fruit – namely apricot – are just some of the many nuanced flavors that come through.
With its wine roots, and the incredibly bright stone fruit coming through, I thought of pairing it with brandy right away. A splash of tonic makes for a refreshing sipper that doesn’t mask the beautiful fruit and spice flavors.
LO-FI SWEET BRANDY TONIC
2 oz Lo-Fi Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Brandy
Splash Tonic (to taste)
Build in rocks glass with ice. Garnish with lemon twist.
Oh! Did someone mention a spritz earlier?!
Like everyone on the planet who likes deliciously refreshing beverages, Lo-Fi has recognized the popularity of the spritz cocktail. They have realized its potential, and with their incredibly quaffable Gentian Amaro, they are taking it to the next level.
At 40-proof, their amaro packs more of a punch than some of the traditional liqueurs used to make a spritz. The bitterness is also beautifully balanced by ginger, sweet citrus and exotic flowers. Like all of Lo-Fi’s products, it is incredibly luscious and easy to drink.
All three of these drinks are perfect for the sweltering summer months, but the spritz is especially made for this kind of weather. Now that you’ve gotten to know a bit about Lo-Fi, you have no excuse. Pick up a few of those photogenic bottles, make your new favorite thirst quencher, and spread the word – National Spritz Day is gonna be a thing!
3 oz Sparkling Wine
2 oz Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro
1 oz Soda
Orange Slice Garnish
Build in wine glass over ice. Garnish with orange slice.
This post was sponsored by Lo-Fi Aperitifs. As always, all opinions are my own!