We’ve been home long enough that it is time to graduate from easy wine drinking and move on to some cocktails! Most Italian cocktails are fairly simple, as many Italians stick to wine and beer with the occasional Spritz.. But for those of you who love mixing something a bit stronger than a simple calice of Barbera, here are some Italian cocktails for you to make at home!
Stock up- what you need on your shelves
Most Italian cocktails are some combination of Vermouth, an aperitif like Aperol, Campari, Cynar or Zucca, Prosecco, and Gin. So those are your must-haves on the next shopping list. You may be familiar with Aperol, but test out some of the other aperitifs Italy has to offer. If you find the usual spritz to bitter, try to find Select, it is a sweeter red aperitif from Venice.
Italian Cocktails:The Classic- Spritz
The original idea behind a spritz was simply adding soda water to wine. This evolved through excellent marketing to be the classic Aperol Spritz we know today. The typical Spritz Recipe: 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 part soda water.
Truth is you can mix any combination of aperitif and bubbly to create your desired Spritz! I am a huge fan of replacing the Aperol with Campari, or the so-called Hugo Spritz– Prosecco, Elderflower Syrup, Seltzer, and mint.
The history of the Spritz comes from the North of Italy. It is said Austrian soldiers found Italian wine to strong, and would ask for a “Spritzen” a spray of soda water in it. This tradition became popular in the 19th century. However it wasn’t until the 20th century that the famous Italian spritz came around. Aperol was made in Padua in 1919, but was not very popular on it’s own. Though many bars around Venice may have started serving aperitifs with soda water, it was not until Aperol’s major marketing campaign in the 1950’s that the Spritz was “officially” born.
If you are a Spritz Lover I highly recommend Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail by Talia Baiocchi it is filled with history and recipes!
Negroni or the Negroni Sbagliato
The Negroni is for those of you who actually like the taste of alcohol, no fruity or floral coverings, just a raw kick for aperitivo. Negroni is made with 20ml Gin, 20ml Sweet Vermouth, 20ml Campari, and top it off with just a slice of fresh orange peel.
After mixing, stir with ice til chilled, add your orange peel and you are ready to sip.
This strong drink was created at Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy in 1919. Count Camillo Negroni asked the bartender, to make his favorite cocktail– the Americano – a little stronger by replacing the soda with gin. This quickly became a hit and people began asking for a Negroni. The Count and his family wasted no time taking advantage of this new fame. They immediately founded the Negroni Distillery in Treviso, Italy, where they produced a ready-made version of the drink, called “Antico Negroni”. The distillery is still open today, however, is no longer in the hands of the Negroni family.
If you are like me and this sounds just a bit too strong for you, you can try out the Negroni Sbagliato, which simply replaces the Gin with a vino spumante, meaning something bubbly. Most often it is prosecco. This version was created by Bar Basso in Milano in 1972.
This parent to the Negroni was created in Piedmont in around the mid-1800’s it consists of Campari, or another bitter of your choosing, Vermouth Rosso, soda water and a slice of lemon peel. Served of course with ice.
When looking for what Vermouth to pick, I would suggest searching a Vermouth di Torino for an authentic flavor, you can check out the whole story of Vermouth di Torino here!
Dump the mimosas and make this your new brunch go-to (or quarantine work from home morning kick, whatever). The Bellini is simple, 2 parts prosecco 1 part white peach juice. This drink was invented sometime between 1930’s and 1940’s by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. The name comes from artistic inspiration. The unique pink color reminded him of character in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini.
Named for Italy’s famous Giuseppe Garibaldi, who led the unification efforts in the mid-19th century. It is a mix of Campari and fresh squeezed orange juice, simple but delicious!
Not really your average Italian cocktail but I had to add…Disaronno sour
Disaronno is one of my favorite Italian liquers. It is an amaretto style liquer with a taste of almonds. Though the recipe is unknown it claims to have remained unchanged since 1525!
The Disaronno sour is just Disaronno, simple syrup and lemon juice.