It seems that Italians invented everything cool and that includes all these classic Italian cocktails we still drink today. We may not all be able to visit Italy often, but at least we can have the tools to relive Aperitivo (Italian Happy Hour) at home!
If you are an Italy lover, then I am sure, you have sipped at least one, or more, of these Italian cocktails! Time to learn how to make them! They are super easy – would the Italians make it hard?
Even if you can’t get to Italy right now, you can experience its culture by trying one of them.
Disclaimer: Some of these posts contain affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means that I may receive compensation if you click on these links and buy something, but, don’t worry, it won’t cost you a dime!
You can find all the ingredients at Spirits Kiosk (10% off the entire site by quoting this code: ALushLife10SK.) in the UK; or Drizly (Get $5 Off Your Order of $20+ using code ALUSHLIFE5) in the USA!
We have Count Camillo Negroni to thank for this famous Italian drink, the classic Negroni cocktail, invented in Florence over 100 years old. With its equal parts gin, sweet red vermouth, and Campari, plus the orange peel garnish, the Negroni has taken the world by storm. We are not sure how Count Negroni drank it, but Alessandro Palazzi of Dukes Bar swears that it is the perfect aperitif.
It's really one of the easiest cocktails to make - right in an old fashioned glass and equal measures!
Top tip(ple): Unfortunately, the birthplace of the Negroni, Caffe Casoni, no longer exists, but any Italian bartender should be able to make this. My Italian friend Giorgio Bargiani, head bartender of the Connaught Bar in London, taught me how to make a few versions of the Negroni and here are his recipes!
1948 was the year that Giuseppe Cipriani combined the two famous ingredients, fresh peach purée only from white peaches, and Prosecco, set to become the most famous cocktail at Harry’s Bar.
Giuseppe named it for the soft pink hues of the Venetian Renaissance artist Giovanni Bellini’s distinctive color palette. If that isn’t romantic, I’m not sure what is.
The Bellini has become a favorite of the brunch crowd, but you can totally drink one at any time. In Venice, they are usually enjoyed before the meal, as they are slightly too sweet to be drinking with a plate of pasta. But do anything you want!
Top Tip(ple): At Harry's Bar, they are served, not in the grand champagne flute, but a simple, what could be mistaken for, water glass decorated with the distinctive Harry’s Bar logo – a bartender shaking up a few Bellinis!
The Americano pre-dates the Negroni! A favorite of Americans at Gaspare Campari’s bar in Milan, Italy in the 1860s, the Americano was slightly tweaked by the infamous Count Negroni to make his eponymous cocktail.
Again sweet vermouth and bitter Campari, but remove the dry gin and add a dash of club soda and lots of ice cubes and serve it in a highball glass!
One trip to the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Northern Italy and one sip of the Hugo Spritz and I was smitten. Elderflower grows along every road, so it's no wonder that it is on every menu there. The recipe includes elderflower syrup, mint leaves, prosecco and a dash of soda water.
The Aperol Spritz has become one of the most popular Italian cocktails in just a few decades. We actually have the Germans to thank for the spritz, aka spritzen (to spray)! In the 19th C, the Austro-Hungarian troops arrived in the Veneto region and immediately began ordering Italian white wine, as one does.
The urban myth is that this wine was a tad stronger than they were used to, so they spritzed a bit of water in. Since then, the spritz cocktail has always been a part of Venetian culture. Which spritz you choose, depends on how bitter you like it. The Campari Spritz is the most bitter, then the Select spritz and then finally the ubiquitous Aperol Spritz!
Top tip(ple): A real spritz veneziano ditches the slice of orange and have a green olive in it instead!
It was a sbagliato - the Italian word for mistake! Someone ordered the Negroni and Mirko Stocchetto at the Bar Basso in Milan grabbed the bottle of sparkling wine instead of gin and another classic Italian drink was born.
This time, you can serve it in a champagne flute with a lemon or orange peel!
Top tip(ple): My friend and bar designer extraordiare, Robbie Bargh, makes it with pink sparkling wine, so I've called it the Gorgeous N.B.
Making these as an after dinner drink wows my guests! Another Venetian classic, the sgroppino is an alcoholic drink masquerading as dessert in a cocktail glass.
Sgropin is the italian word for untie the knot. After a large meal of hearty Italian food, you would "unite the knot!"
Just mix lemon sorbet, and vodka, plus prosecco and you have the perfect palette cleanser in between meals or as a digestivo! I always find lemon sorbet, or anything with a citrusy flavor, soothes my stomach no matter how much pasta I eat!
Top tip(ple): The original recipe is made with vodka, but here it is made with Italicus and is divine! Plus a little lemon zest on top makes it fly!
Take out your cocktail shaker for this popular aperitif. The Angelo Azzurro (Blue Angel) screams the 1970's with its artificial, but inherently glam color. It truly deserves its rightful place among the rest of the Italian classics!
An extra cocktail treat! The traditional Affogato is espresso poured over vanilla gelato. To make it truly a truly Italian cocktail, drizzle a bit of Amaretto or Frangelico over it. Personally I love a little Sambuca!