Friday, October 30, 2009

Sanbitter - The Mysteries Revealed

Here at CapoPenn, we have a display of all our bottled drinks in front of the register. Literally 1 out of every 5 people who come up to order or pay for something will pick up the small red bottle out of the display and wonder aloud: "what is this?"

"Is it strawberry soda?" they ask hopefully. Nope, we reply. "Is it...cherry soda?" their brow furrows with confusion and minor concern. Nope. "Is it...?" but then they trail off, because what else could this totally adorable bright crimson drink possibly be?

Well, we finally's sanbitter! which is an aperitif soda produced by san pellegrino, whom you probably know from their excellent sparkling water and elegant fizzy citrus drinks. Sanbitter, however, is not like any other: with very little fizz to speak of, it is, true to its name, quite bitter, with mineral, medicinal notes. This kind of bitterness is a flavor sensation that people either love or hate, and the italians just love it, especially before kicking off an epic meal. Have you ever tasted Campari? Sanbitter is kind of like Campari, but without the alcohol.

That's basically the explanation we give to customers, most of whom then gently set the bottle back on the counter, and order a diet coke or coffee instead. Even though I understand the wariness about this oddball foreign beverage (I'm a recent convert myself), I urge you all to try it at least once! Not only is it good to try new things, but because Sanbitter and other bitters are ubiquitous in Italy and many parts of western europe, it's a taste of another culture. Also, damn that bottle is cute.

If you are still not convinced, there are some ways to take the edge off of Sanbitter. A splash of fresh orange or grapefruit juice does wonders to tame the bitterness and add a bright sweetness. A customer recently ordered a Sanbitter and a small bottle of S. Pellegrino, and mixed them to make an extra bubbly and less bitter drink. And for those of you over the legal drinking age, our bar makes an unbelievable wine cocktail called the Maniago - crispy white wine with a big splash of Sanbitter and a fat slice of orange floating on top...basically the definition of refreshment.

So don't be scared! Do like the Italians do (cuz you know they do it better), and prime your palate and your belly with a zippy pre-meal aperitif - make it a Sanbitter!

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