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I am not sure If I should really admit to this, but as a youngster one of my favourite drinks was dubonnet and lemonade. I would be allowed a weak one on a sunday when my granparents were visiting and remember drinking this from a fairly young age (although I guess I mast have been 12-13+). I in no way encourage underage drinking officially (but privatley I do believe a little taster means you act a bit more resposibly when you hit 18.......from experience of working in student bars where the previously tee-total american overseas students were the hardest to deal with)
----The drink and it's history---
Dubonnet is a sweet, fortified blend of wine mixed with herbs and spices. It contains a tiny amount of quinine which makes it have a slight bitter taste.
First sold by Joseph Dubonnet in 1864, it was an invented as a way of getting the French foreign legionnaires in North Africa to drink quinine which is effective in combating malaria. I spent 3 months working in Gabon this year which is french influenced and spotted dubonnet hiding behind the bar in several places.
In 1976 the brand was taken over by Pernod Ricard and was re-popularised in late 1970s by a huge advertising campaign starring Pia Zadora. To me it is very mcuh considered an old-fashioned drink and something that would be drunk by my gradparents. I would never dream of ordering one when out with friends.
According to Wikipedia Dubonnet is/was a favourite drink of the queen and the queen mother as well as Hetty Wainthrop in the old BBC series.
Dubonnet is usually drunk by mixing with lemonade, bitter lemon or as part of a long list of cocktails (which are all a bit 70s) such as the 'bartender', the 'dubonnet cassis', a 'savoy hotel special or a 'mummy love'.
---- The taste ----
Once diluted with lemonade as I prefer to drink it, dubonnet has a light refreshing taste similar to a spritzer.
On it own it tastes similar to a port or fortified red wine I can detect cherry and walnut aromas, with notes of lemon zest, cardamom and toffee. The taste includes flavors of orange, nuts, chocolate and coffee finishing fairly lemon and herb notes. Basically this includes a lot of strong spicy portlike flavours which taste rich and full bodied.
Being only 19% in alcohol it is a weak drink compared to a standard spirit (or strong compared to most wines) however it is not sharp like a spirit and is smooth to drink. Mixed with lemonade it makes a weak drink that is more about a refreshing flavour than something which is going to get you drunk, hence I can see why my granparents though it was OK for me to try.
---The price ---
A bottle of Dubonnet rouge (red) sells in Waitrose for £9.50 for a 75cl bottle. This is extremely reasonable and compares in price to ports or sherries.
Old fashioned, but a secret favourite that brings back memories.
Dubonet is a French, wine based apperitif flavoured with spices and hints of quinine. Dubonnet is a world-wide leading French brand for its wine-based apperitif. Born in Paris in 1846, Dubonnet results from the alliance of wines from the south of France, with spices and plants matured over several years. It's production relies on 150 years of precious savoir-faire!