Italian cocktail recipes, like almost every famous pasta dish that hails from Italy, are usually made from just a few quality ingredients. They are simple to make and easy to follow, and there is a cocktail for just about everything in Italy! Try one of these recipes next time you’re entertaining guests, or can’t decide what to order at the bar.
The Aperol Spritz is probably one of the most well-known Italian cocktails, the world over. With just three ingredients, the Spritz is easy to make well and so refreshing. The most popular time to order a Spritz in Italy is before dinner, during aperitivo (the Italian version of Happy Hour). It’s one of the cocktails that aides in digestion, which is why it’s typically drank before a meal. Whenever I taste the Aperol, I’m immediately transported back to Italy! Look for Aperol at your local liquor store near the other liqueurs. It is bright orange in color and hard to miss. For this cocktail, any soda water will do, but try to find a Prosecco that is on the drier side. Once you taste the Aperol Spritz, you’ll be imagining yourself seaside under an umbrella, or sitting in a beautiful square as the sun goes down over an Italian city.
To make: mix one part Aperol, one part soda water, and one part Prosecco in a glass. Add a slice of orange and ice, if desired. You can also substitute Campari for the Aperol, if you prefer a more bitter taste. If you like elderflower, consider trying a Hugo Spritz, which is made with elderflower syrup instead of Aperol.
The Negroni is definitely not for the faint of heart, as it’s a very bitter concoction. But as with most cocktails, allow yourself a few sips before you judge it. It just gets better over time! The Negroni is my personal favorite for sitting around with friends, before or after dinner, when I want a drink I can slowly sip on. It packs a lot of punch for such a small drink. Like the Aperol Spritz, the Negroni tends to be orange in color, but are usually a shade darker than the Spritz. People who drink Negronis are typically very particular about a few aspects of the drink. The first, that it be served with an orange peel. The second, that the glass contains just one large ice cube, instead of a handful of small ice cubes like other drinks might. Sipping a Negroni is an art form!
To make: mix one part Campari, one part gin, and one part Vermouth Rosso. Stir and don’t shake! Instead of garnishing with a whole slice of orange like you would for an Aperol Spritz, instead the Negroni is only ever garnished with the orange peel. An important distinction if you really want to get this Italian cocktail recipe right!
If you like the idea of the Negroni but want something a little lighter (a good choice if the alcohol goes straight to your head), then you should try a Negroni Sbagliato. In Italian, sbagliato means “mistake.” It is cleverly named this because the ingredients of this cocktail are super similar to a regular Negroni, with just one key difference: Prosecco instead of gin. This makes the cocktail lighter, but doesn’t altar the overall taste too much. It’s the perfect Italian cocktail to sip slowly while you enjoy some food.
To make: mix one part Campari, one part Prosecco, and one part vermouth rosso. No garnish is necessary, but an orange peel and ice never hurts.
If you’ve ever seen photos of people drinking a distinctly light pink beverage in Venice, that would be the Bellini. This famous Italian cocktail recipe was created in the floating city, at the world famous Harry’s Bar. It was named after the beautiful peachy pink colors in the paintings of the Venetian painter, Giovanni Bellini. This delicious cocktail is made by simply adding peach purée to Prosecco. It is quite versatile, as its become a popular brunch cocktail but can also be drank before dinner. My favorite location to drink one is along a canal in Venice, but sometimes mixing one up at home is just the trick. The key is to use fresh white peaches, as the quality of the peach can really make or break the cocktail.
To make: Make your peach purée using either fresh or frozen peaches. In a champagne flute, mix equal parts Prosecco and peach purée. No garnish necessary for this one, just enjoy the delicious peach foam at the top of your glass!
The Limoncello Spritz is an Italian cocktail recipe that I like to make ahead in a big pitcher if I’m having friends over. Most people are divided on whether or not they like limoncello, the famous lemon flavored Italian liqueur. But whether or not they like it, everyone loves limoncello in this spritz form. There are a few different variations on how this can be made, and it can be quite similar to a French 75, another sparkling lemon drink. This spritz is easy to make and especially great for a large group, when you don’t want to be mixing cocktails but instead enjoying your guests company.
To make: Pour one ounce limoncello in a wine glass, then mix with Prosecco, a splash of soda water, and fresh lemon juice. If you want to make ahead for your guests, multiply the recipe and taste it to see if it’s missing more lemon or more bubbles. I like to add a slice of lemon to each glass, mostly for appearance sake.
The sgroppino is a lesser known Italian cocktail recipe, but it is the perfect thing to wow your guests after a dinner party or a nice meal. Made with Prosecco and sorbet, the sgroppino is a nice way to end the meal because it is slightly sweet, and very light. You can adjust the flavor depending on what type of sorbet you add, but my favorites are lemon or raspberry. This cocktail is best when served in a small flute or decorative dish.
To make: mix one quart of sorbet with two cups chilled Prosecco in a large bowl, stir with a whisk. You can add a few ounces of vodka if you’d like, then serve in a champagne flute with a few mint leaves for garnish.
Have you tried any of these Italian cocktail recipes? Let me know your favorites in the comments below!
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Maggie is the blogger behind The Artful Everyday, a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to living intentionally and finding beauty in the ordinary. She loves the idea that we get to escape our normal lives when we travel, and that it allows us to be more open to the world and its cultures. Maggie lived in Florence while studying abroad, then was an au pair in Rome last fall. She is very passionate about traveling in Europe, especially Italy, and living abroad. Maggie studied Interior Design at the University of Minnesota, but is currently pursuing a career in writing.