Aïoli, handmade garlic mayonnaise, is the wonderful, classic Provençal sauce based on garlic, olive oil, and fresh egg yolks. Other Mediterranean garlic sauces, like the Spanish allioli and the Greek skordalia, are closely related.
I might sound like a purist snob, but I really must deflate the many myths about aïoli: For one, adding other ingredients like dried tomatoes, wasabi, and the like may make a tasty sauce, but you just can’t call it “aïoli.” Flavored mayonnaise can contain garlic, but true aïoli contains no seasoning but garlic. If you add garlic to store-bought mayonnaise, you will not reproduce aïoli’s fresh flavor. Another myth is that aïoli will keep for a few days. Not true. The fresh garlic flavor dissipates rapidly; aïoli must be eaten within a few hours. And, yes, you can make aïoli with a handheld electric beater, just be careful not to whip too much air into it.
For the best aïoli, use an extra virgin olive oil that is neither too peppery nor too strong. Try to find a fruity Provençal oil or use a mild Tuscan or California oil.