Before and after

Take a tip from the Europeans. Start dinner with an aperitif and end it with a digestif. Just a nip. It's a centuries-old tradition that's catching on in Perth as people become more savvy about their food and drink.

"A dry, light sherry, like a fino or an amontillado, is wonderful to start a meal and goes down really well with oysters," Print Hall's head sommelier Daniel Wegener said. "One of my favourites is Amaro Montenegro, a beautiful bitter with residual sweetness. It's made with roots, herbs, spices and seeds and can be used either way, but I love it as an aperitif.

"It's all about preparing your palate for a meal; about stimulating a hunger rather than providing that soothing richness you want at the end. Things with bitterness and things with clean flavours, such as vodkas, gins, white rums and spirits distilled with fruit, like Poire William, work well."

So does extra brut champagne, Clement Creole Shrubb Liqueur d'Orange made with rum agricole, Lluvia de Estrellas Lime Liqueur with Tequila and Lillet Blanc, made famous in James Bond's Vesper martini in Casino Royale. The emphasis is usually more on dry than sweet.

"The Lluvia is very refreshing," Mr Wegener said. "It cuts through everything you've eaten that day and prepares your palate beautifully."

Print Hall took out the national title for best digestif list in the 2014 Australian Wine List of the Year Awards. Last year, it won best aperitif list, plus a swag of others, including the coveted overall wine list title.

"Anything that finishes with sweetness, richness and the bold oak characteristics you get in a whisky liqueur like Drambuie makes a beautiful digestif," Mr Wegener said.

"Brandys, like cognac and Armagnac, fit the bill, so does grappa. I would generally finish a meal with a whisky and would be more than happy with a Pappy van Winkle or a scotch" Mr Wegener said.

The West Australian

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