It was the drink of the European summer and now it’s winning the hearts of New Zealanders too.
Hastings Distillers’ new aperitif, Constance, is a nod to its French counterpart, Lillet – but made entirely locally, from Hawke’s Bay wine and organically grown botanicals.
The distillery founders, Kate Galloway and her French partner, David Ramonteu, spent time in David’s home country over the northern summer, observing how this classic, even slightly old-fashioned pre-dinner drink was enjoying a renaissance. “It’s known in France as ‘the barman’s friend’”, says David, “possibly because it’s so popular with both young and old. It’s the ideal combination of refreshing and slightly fruity – a very charming, summer afternoon or early evening choice.”
Visually stunning and wonderful in a martini or simply chilled and poured over ice, Constance – named for the ceramicist Constance Spry, whose work adorns the shelving tucked inside the Hastings Distillers Tasting Room – is a blend of local wine, biodynamic raspberries, liquorice, cardamom, bitter oranges, clove, rosemary, star anise and gentian root.
Due to the minimal intervention involved in producing Constance, the aperitif may take on a slightly hazy, but completely harmless quality in the bottle, much like natural wines and beers do. For best results, store in the refrigerator and give a quick shake before pouring, says Kate.
“It’s lovely neat, but we’re also serving a Constance Spritz (soda) and a Constance and tonic at the Tasting Room and both are proving popular with those looking for a delicate but delicious lighter alcohol option.
“It’s easy-drinking too, so it would go well at a summer party or barbecue, or as a partner to a casual cheese board.”
At 17% ABV, and containing minimal sulphites, Constance joins Hastings Distillers’ highly regarded and award-winning gins, vermouths, and a new absinthe at the Heretaunga Street site – as well as at satellite location, the Black Barn Growers’ Market (held each Saturday morning throughout summer).
“There was something very special about Constance Spry,” concludes Kate. “She was one of the first to introduce vegetables and weeds into floristry, and I suppose there’s a correlation there between her less conventional approach and ours, when it comes to gins and liqueurs. We also love the natural world and how we can shape what comes from the earth into something that is sipped and savoured.”
Constance Rose Martini
50ml East Block 200 gin
25ml Constance aperitif
5ml elderflower liqueur
Stir all ingredients with ice until well chilled. Strain into a cooled martini glass. Garnish with a citrus twist or edible flower of your choice.