Popular in Europe, aperitifs are experiencing a stateside renaissance. Meant to stimulate the appetite, they work as complex, sexy sippers or as part of a low-alcohol cocktail that won’t give you a buzz. Aperitifs encompass a vast and colorful category that includes liqueurs (think Campari, pastis, and Amer Picon) as well as aromatized and fortified wines. Distinctly herbaceous vermouth, a fortified wine, is familiar to every self-respecting martini drinker and varies in style from dry and bianco to sweet and rosé. Lillet, a French wine-based aperitif spiked with quinine, is light, crisp, and semisweet. My current obsession is two ounces of Martini & Rossi Rosato, a fruit-forward vermouth enjoyed with a sliced strawberry and a splash of soda or sparkling white wine. It’s like tripping on a rosebush, grabbing at a grapefruit tree, and landing face down in a patch of strawberries. That’s a happy accident.
» Lindsay Nader mixes drinks at Hollywood’s Harvard & Stone and runs the food and drink blog The N.A.D.E.R.