Transport yourself to Milano with an aperitivo. Across Italy they enjoy this pre-meal drink meant to stimulate the appetite before dining. These typically low-proof cocktails are a cultural tradition and typically made with a bitter liqueur. Ranging in flavor from light & refreshing to bracingly bitter, there’s an aperitivo for everyone.
Find yours and raise your glass, “cin-cin!”
The smoother Italian cousin of the Negroni, the Americano is an approachable classic aperitivo. This cocktail leans heavily on the bitter fruitiness of Campari without the stiffness of gin that’s called for in its cousin. It is easy sipping and a refreshing choice following a sun-soaked afternoon.
Talk about a happy little mistake, the Negroni Sbagliato, allegedly came to be after a Milanese bartender reached for a bottle of gin and instead picked up a bottle of prosecco. Sbagliato translates to “incorrect” or “mistaken” in Italian, but we think they absolutely got this one right. It is a lighter and refreshing alternative aperitivo to the richly bitter classic Negroni.
The meaning of the Rosita in Spanish is “Little rose” attributing to the drink’s ruby red hue. This spirit forward cocktail sees a slight variation from its simpler Mexican Boulevardier cousin. Both offer a complex and intriguing alternative to the typical citrus and tropical flavors of most tequila recipes.
The Riviera spritz is the perfect marriage between iconic French and Italian spirits. While it evokes the sunny weather of the Riviera, this drink can be enjoyed year round. It’s an exciting mixture of Aperol, Campari, and St-Germain, topped with soda water. Boost the ABV count by substituting a dry sparkling wine for the soda water. Its flavor is light and refreshing and it joins the family of other sparkling aperitivi like the classic Aperol Spritz, the Bicicletta, and the Negroni Sbagliato.
While Bicicletta means “bicycle” in Italian, it is certainly not recommended to go riding one after a few of these. This aperitivo follows the typical spritz formula combining two of Italy’s favorite evening refreshments, Campari and white wine, finished with soda water. Like other spritz, this drink is low-proof and easy to drink. With its dry and bitter flavors, it joins Italy’s more well-known aperitivi like the Americano, Aperol Spritz, and Negroni.
Created at Harry’s Bar in Paris during the 1920s by a true man-about-town, Erskine Gwynne. This American-born writer founded a monthly magazine called Boulevardier. The drink’s flavor is best described as a bittersweet Manhattan or a whiskey Negroni.
This recipe shares two of its three ingredients with both cocktails. The bourbon and sweet vermouth with the Manhattan and Campari and sweet vermouth with the Negroni. The addition of bourbon rounds out the bittersweetness of the Campari and sweet vermouth that makes for a rich and intriguing aperitivo.
Born in Venice in 1920, The Aperol Spritz is a classic Italian aperitivo. This cocktail is a great pre-meal drink to open the appetite. It’s low-proof and easy to drink during an afternoon out with friends.
This spritz is an Italian sparkling wine-based cocktail with a bitters liqueur. The Campari Spritz is a common variation and simply uses Campari instead. However, it can be more of an acquired taste than the softer Aperol. The flavors between the bitter liqueurs are considerably different.