Some years ago in Luberon a beautiful region of southern France, my husband and I discovered Rinquinquin – it’s pronounced ‘ran-can-can’ through your nose, if you can. Rinquinquin is a popular aperitif but the reason we first tried it was, of course, its name.
In French the verb requinquer means to buck up - “un bon grog vous requinquera” – a hot drink will cheer you up – well despite ours being cold being served over ice, Rinquinquin had a definite restorative and relaxing effect on us.
Since then, Rinquinquin has been for me the perfect summer aperitif, as opposed to cocktail and then it is gin and tonic. Its rich peachy flavour is muted by a slight bitterness. It’s made by marinating yellow and white peaches, the cracked peach kernels and even the leaves for six months to a year, in a mixture of alcohol and wine.
The solids are then distilled and mixed with the infused liquids, sugar is added and voilà a drink that weighs in with 15 % alcohol. It’s a good idea to add ice.
Alas this peachy aperitif is not easy to find outside of France. Even in France it is not that well know but Lavinia the big wine store near the Madeleine church always stocks it and luckily my local Monoprix does too.
I brought two bottles back with me in June as it is not available in Ontario. There is only one distillery making it and they are better know for the very popular pastis, a licorice flavoured drink similar to Pernod. Their pastis, Henri Bardouin won a gold medal at the General Agricultural Competition Paris 2008
It ‘s obviously their best seller as the letters HB are embossed into all their bottles, even my Rinquinquin bottle. They make a range of aperitifs flavoured with orange, nuts and gentian. Gentian is a flowering plant, found in Provence, the Auvergne where it’s root used to make Gentiane and Suze.
Although I like bitter aperitifs, Campari for example, I prefer them in the winter – for the summer it’s the sweet taste of peach. I could create some recipes using Rinquinqun but I’d rather just be on my deck, sipping it over ice.