Dubonnet: Fit for a monarch

Vintage Dubonnet poster.
The salespeople at Dubonnet have had their hands full supplying their aperitif to PR-savvy pubs across the United Kingdom this week.

It is a blend of fortified wine, herbs, and spices with fermentation being stopped by the addition of alcohol. And, it is the drink favorite of Queen Elizabeth II, who this week is marking her diamond jubilee on the British throne.

Dubonnet was first sold in 1846 by Joseph Dubonnet, his entry in a competition run by the French government to find a way of persuading French Foreign Legionnaires in North Africa to drink quinine, which is part of the Dubonnet recipe. Quinine combats malaria, a disease prevalent in most places the Legionnnaires were posted, but is very bitter and, thus, not drinkable on its own.

 The brand-name Dubonnet was taken over by Pernod Ricard in 1976. It is available in Rouge (red), Blanc (vanilla) and Gold (orange) varieties.

The late queen mother, Elizabeth, was a noted imbiber of a cocktail that was 70% Dubonnet and 30% gin. QE II also has been photographed enjoying a Dubbonet-and-gin, which she has before lunch nearly every day.

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