Originally made in 1865, and immediately nicknamed “ouvre l’appetit (key to the appetite) it is made by infusing gentian root, herbs from the Grande Chartreuse Mountains, and cinchona (quinine), in a Mistelle base, producing a wine that is known for its complexity.
While tradition is to drink neat with a twist, Bonal also mixes well with fresh or hard cider, sparkling wine, and Scotch or American whiskies. Excellent with hard, salty cheeses, salted nuts, or earthy, spicy foods.
Bonal is an excellent choice for adding a bitter edge and robust texture. Simply add tonic water and a squeeze of lemon for an afternoon delight. Substitute Bonal for most or all of the gin in a Collins, and serve salted nuts on the side. The vinous texture and balanced aromatics of Bonal make it an excellent substitute for more strident amari, either as aperitif/digestif or in a stirred cocktail with Scotch, rye, brandy or agave spirits.
Born in 1826, Hyppolite Bonal was orphaned at the age of 12 and sent to the Grande Chartreuse Monastery. He became the abbey’s doctor after studying medicine and pharmacology in Paris and Lyon. After eight years in this role, he moved to the neighboring village of Saint Laurent du Pont to become a pharmacist. During meditative walks in the Chartreuse Mountains, Bonal collected numerous wild plants and herbs and studied their digestive and medicinal qualities. This led him to create his namesake fortifying wine in 1865.
Bonal and Rye
Stir with ice:
1.5 oz Rye whiskey
1.5 oz Bonal
2 dashes orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
Strain into a coupe and garnish with orange peel
Build in a rocks glass with ice:
equal parts Bonal and Byrrh
splash of soda water optional
garnish with grapefruit peel
Stir with ice:
1.5 oz. Old Tom Gin
.75 oz. Bonal
1 dash orange bitters
strain into a Nick and Nora glass