Five before-dinner drinks to serve before a holiday feast

Five before-dinner drinks to serve before a holiday feast

Meet the main meal's opening lineup

Photograph by Carlo Mendoza Photograph by Carlo Mendoza

Any before-dinner drink can be called an aperitif, but the classic European version is designed to charge the senses and ignite the appetite—critical before a monumental Thanksgiving meal—without being too powerful, filling or sweet. This selection of dry, energizing aperitifs should be enjoyed chilled for maximum refreshment.

Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos
$15.35 | Spain | 91 points
Los Arcos is a beautiful rendition of Amontillado sherry, with apricot and orange fruitiness, coffee-bean character and earthy aromas. Serve with apps and it’ll be the talk of the night. LCBO 375097

$27.95 | Italy | no rating
Campari’s rhubarb-and-ginseng character forms the backbone of classic cocktails such as the boulevardier and negroni, but its distinctively bitter flavour really primes the palate when mixed with a splash of soda water. LCBO 277954

Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs Brut
$29.95 | Niagara Escarpment | 90 Points
Celebrate local bounty with this fine chardonnay-based Niagara sparkler, with subtle orchard apple, shortbread and citrus flavours, and a nick of limestone for oyster-friendly minerality. LCBO 213983

Fonseca White Port
$17.30 | Portugal | no rating
Gin and tonics are ever-popular, but the mixed drink’s high-octane base spirit can smother the appetite. Throttle down to 20 per cent alcohol white port, blended with two parts tonic, loads of ice and a smack of lime or mint. LCBO 276816

Lillet Blanc
$18.15 | France | 93 points
The spicy, cedary French aperitif is lightly fortified, with orange-macerated brandy added to barrel-aged sauvignon blanc and semillon grapes. Serve it with an ice cube, or cut it with sparkling wine or a dab of gin. LCBO 322297