Posted 20 hours ago

El Bandarra Al Fresco - Barcelona Aperitivo, Drink with Tonic or as a Spritz, Bittersweet, Alternative to Pink Gin, Notes of Grapefruit and Mediterranean Botanicals - 1 Litre Bottle, 14% ABV

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The vermouths are made with grapes from the Virgili Bros vineyard at Casa Berger, near Barcelona in the Alt Penedès, which has been in continuous operation since 1878 and was bought by the Virgili family in 1962. They made vermouths for decades by the barrel for small local wine shops but launched their own brand with El Bandarra in 2014. That’s why we created El Bandarra Rosé, which is the lightest one. It has 30% less sugar than the other ones. We made the three vermouths, but then, last year we launched El Bandarra Al Fresco and I’m very proud of this launch. Alex: Right. Well, let me tell you that in Spain, our concept of Al Fresco is our grannies. So, if you come during summer in many little towns and villages, the grannies take their chairs, and they go outside in the street and they meet with their friends. They share information. They are like the FBI of each little town and that for us is Al Fresco.

What we did was, we took this recipe and we bottled it and we created El Bandarra. And that’s how it was born in September 2014. Alex: No, the Rojo, the one that you have there, it’s in Catalan. As I told you, if we’re Catalonia, we sell the screen-printed bottles in Catalan and for the rest of Spain, we sell it in Spanish. If you want to preserve your language, you need to speak it, use insults also and the tapas and everything. That’s why we have the Spanish bottle and the Catalan bottle. It has this taste, this touch of bitterness, but also fruitiness and sweetness. I mean, I’m a vermouth drinker. I love vermouth Rojo, but I have to say that many, some days when I arrive at home, I like to drink something refreshing Al Fresco, it’s amazing. Al Fresco and tonic. You drink it, take a long sip, it’s super easy to drink.This iconic Italian bottle graces bars the world over – and with good reason. It takes a medley of 68 herbs and spices to achieve that tell-tale bitter edge and crimson red hue, and our negronis wouldn’t be the same without it. Exceptionally dry, it’ll bring notes of orange peel, cherry, clove, and cinnamon to whatever you’re drinking.

The whole point of the aperitivo is to work up an appetite for a bangin’ meal with a drink that’s big on bitter notes - and the Spritz is ALL about bitterness, since it’s typically made with liqueurs or vermouths that get their bitter complexity from botanicals. Normally for that red sangria, many restaurants use that and there’s also the very amous, sangria of Cava. With a white sangria with Cava, they can use a touch of Bandarra Blanco to give a point of sweetness. I’m not a sangria drinker. I’m more of a vermouth drinker, but, yeah, a touch of Bandarra, is always great for enjoying sangria also.My grandparents used to sell bulk wine in barrels, in little bodegas and bars. I’m talking about the Sixties all over Catalonia and in Spain, and that’s our origin. I’m pretty obsessed with exporting the success of the Aperitivo to the US, to the UK, and other markets. Twins Alex and Albert Virgili have drawn on their family’s wine expertise to develop El Bandarra Al Fresco which is a blend of local Grenache wines and natural Mediterranean botanicals including liquorice, mint, rose and citrus. It is cherry red in colour with ABV of 14.5%. Susan: Fab. Now I always end by asking my guests the same question: If you could have any drink anywhere right now, where would that be?

Alex: For the first three years was Rojo. We launched the brand in 2014, then after two years of seeding the brand, we drove the brand from regional to national in Spain. That was when we started having more distribution and more clients. Some clients asked us why didn’t make a white. So, we thought, “Okay, let’s make a white.” When we bottled the Blanco, at some point, we thought that maybe we put in too much vanilla. We thought it smelled too much of vanilla or we tired different botanicals. If you’ve been to any rooftop or riverside haunt when Britain hits the balmy temperature heights of 12 degrees – hell, even if you haven’t – then you’ll know that the most popular way to serve an apéritif (think: Aperol or Campari) is with soda and a citrus wedge. Most apéritifs add quinine to bring that bittersweet characteristic, meaning tonic is a welcome mixer, too. Susan: My grandmother was the one to teach me to drink one spirit only because then I wouldn’t get a hangover. She also was the first person to introduce me to the caipirinha. So, I had a grandmother who liked her drink and yes, and she saw, I liked my drink. And so, she would teach me these things.We add some alcohol at the vermouth house for 15% of alcohol volume. And at that moment, we add the sweetness. The traditional method is adding a little bit of caramel and the old vermouths in Spain do it. It’s the traditional way to do it. In the Spritz, sparkling wine is like JC Chasez in NSYNC: a crucial player, if not the flashiest member of the band. “A Spritz without the wine, I don't think it's a Spritz,” Luca says. (We feel the same way about JC.)

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