The Mistelle Mystery
We’re calling it: the mistelle is making a comeback. To be honest though, we’re confused as to why it ever left.
This forgotten aperitif is sweet, fresh, and fruity, and is perfectly suited to summertime sessions on the verandah, preferably with a view of the beach. Originating from Normandy, France, it is traditionally served as an aperitif-style drink, and is made by mixing fruit juice (most often grape or apple) and a spirit. Sometimes, if the spirit is mixed with a juice that is at least partially fermented, it becomes more of a fortified wine.
So where has it been all our life? Drink Easy head spirits judge, Fred Siggins, explains:
“During the 20th century in Australia, we lost sight of a lot of traditional production methods, and were focused more on producing huge quantities of whatever was trendy as cheaply as possible.
“Thankfully, that's changed a lot in the last few years. Our beverage producers are embracing lower intervention and more craft-focused methods from wine to beer to spirits, and we're all benefitting from that change in attitude. There's no reason Australian drinkers shouldn't see mistelle as a part of the craft revolution.
“We have an incredible wine industry in Australia as well as some of the best fruit in the world, so [to produce mistelle] makes a lot of sense in terms of what we're already producing. In Europe, things like mistelle and brandy are a normal part of how traditional wine and cider producers make use of waste materials,” says Fred.
Kathleen Davies, founder of Nip of Courage and Drink Easy spirits judge, agrees. “Australian drinking culture is steadily moving towards ‘drinking less but drinking better’ and most definitely mistelle has its place with this evolution,” she says.
“We’ve seen the thirst for Mistelle evolve in our business through boutique bottle shops, small bars with a food offering, and restaurants,” Kathleen says. “Mistelle will be the new cool kid of aperitifs in the near future…watch this space.”
We’ve already seen one Australian mistelle break onto the market: Victoria’s RHUBI pairs fermented Australian rhubarb juice with juniper spirit, gentian, grapefruit and mandarin skins to deliver their unique twist on the French aperitif. It’s a great start, but we want more!
Bring on the 2021 Drink Easy Awards - we hope to see some stellar Aussie mistelles in the mix, please and thank you.
WHAT'S UP WITH ..
Q: What are you drinking atm?
A: Probably too much. As the winter settles in I've been back on the whiskies, some rums and the odd brandy. The last nip I had was the Scotch Malt Whisky Society independent bottlers ‘Titillated by Ten Tickles' 53.534 (which is a Caol Ila for those uninitiated to the society bottling numbers). Bloody brilliant.
Q: Where are you drinking atm?
A:Sadly, I'm no longer drinking at Bulletin Place, which was formerly one of my favourite drinking spots in Sydney. They closed their doors last week - a desperately sad COVID death. So, instead I'll be drinking at Cantina OK! I'll be smashing whatever’s the weirdest mezcal they recommend at the time, and their daily specials. I've also been loving the new P&V in Paddo. Their wines are one thing, but the calibre of knowledge on the floor and ease on the eye of all their staff is equally compelling.
DIY EASY with Otter Craft Distilling, whose cocoa vodka came second place in the Spirits category of the 2019 Drink Easy Awards
45 ml OCD Cocoa Vodka
180 ml Dry ginger ale
Orange wedge (use blood orange when in season)
Pour in OCD Cocoa Vodka into a tall glass
Add a generous amount of ice (crushed is preferred)
Top with ginger ale
Squeeze the juice from a large wedge of orange into the glass (blood orange works very well in this drink)
Drop the remains of the wedge in the glass and serve