The 5 Most Popular Classic ITALIAN Cocktails: Ingredients for your APERITIVO at Home!

When times are rough, like the one we’re going through right now, and when we’re forced to spend most of our time at home without the possibility of going outside, especially in the evening and at night, we miss drinking a nice cocktail with our friends. I know that it’s not the same, but we can always organize happy hours on Zoom with our friends, or even take time for ourselves to drink a good cocktail. But the thing is: you have to make them the right way! We’re here for you, we’ll teach you how to prepare 5 of the most popular Italian cocktails, that are quite easy to make (if we can, you can too) but that are still a great company during these days, where a little bit of alcohol can cheer us up.  We’ll also tell you all about their history because this is still an educational channel, isn’t it?

Recipe and history of five tasty Italian drinks  

BELLINI

The first drink we want to recommend to you is a light and refreshing cocktail, perfect in the morning, for a brunch or an aperitivo. It pairs wonderfully with both sweet and savoury!

To prepare a perfect Bellini we’ll need:

  • 10 cl of Prosecco (Italian sparkling white wine)
  • 5 cl of peach puree (if  you want to make it out of season, I suggest you use peach juice, as long as it’s at least 60-70% pulp)

This cocktail was created in the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice sometime between 1938/1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, the owner and founder of the bar. He gave the cocktail this name because of its pink colour that reminded him of the toga of a saint in a painting by the artist Giovanni Bellini. So it has an artistic origin!

Like every other traditional recipe, this cocktail can have some variations, for example, the Bellini Royal made with Champagne instead of white wine. There are also non-alcoholic versions, where Prosecco is replaced by a sparkling drink, like a soda.

Fun fact: legend has it that this was the favourite drink of a regular visitor of the bar, the writer Ernest Hemingway.

APEROL SPRITZ

Aperol in the narrow sense is a beverage obtained through the maceration in alcohol of bitter orange peel, gentian, rhubarb and other spices. It has an alcohol content of 11%, slightly less than wine. It was created by the Barbieri brothers, two distillers, and it was presented in 1919 at the International exhibition of Padua.

Starting from the years 2000s Aperol used the phenomenon of the Happy Hour and Spritz to increase its popularity, both in Italy and abroad. It reached its maximum popularity in 2008 when the company created and launched the cocktail Aperol Spritz, made with:

  • 3 parts Prosecco
  • 2 parts Aperol
  • 1 part Seltz (soda water)
  • ice
  • an orange slice

MILANO-TORINO

To make the Milano-Torino drink we’ll need:

  • 4 ml of red Vermouth
  • 4 ml of Campari
  • an orange slice
  • ice cubes

The Milano-Torino drink, also called Mi-To, was created in Turin in 1786 when Antonio Benedetto Carpano, after years of tests, was finally able to make the perfect mix: a herbs infusion with a splash of white wine, thus creating Vermouth.

Later, in 1860 in Milan, Gaspare Campari gave origin to the very popular 60 herbs infusion called Campari.  The union of Vermouth from Turin and Campari from Milan created the Milano-Torino cocktail.

Fun fact: the very famous drink Negroni comes from the Mi-To.

PIRLO

In order to make 1 L of Pirlo we’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 400 ml of Campari or Aperol
  • 400 ml of dry white wine
  • 200 ml of Seltz or very sparkling water

The Pirlo drink is THE cocktail of the city of Brescia, it’s not just a drink but a quintessential part of the Aperitivo. Its name comes from the dialect, in fact, “Pirlare” means to fall. In this case, it represents the fall of Campari into the white wine.

Because of its similarity with the Spritz, Brescia and Venice argued about which city invented it first. However, thankfully, the International Bartenders Association IBA declared the Pirlo drink as the father of the Venetian Spritz. The only difference between the two is the wine used, the version from Brescia uses still wine while the Venetian version uses Prosecco.

In 2017 it was declared as the drink of the year by the New York Times.

GARIBALDI

You can make a super tasty Garibaldi with:

  • 40ml of bitter Campari
  • 60ml of fresh orange juice
  • ice
  • lemon or orange zest

This Italian cocktail, from northern Italy, takes its name from Italian famous patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi. The tribute to this hero is given by the colour of the bitter, red like Garibaldi’s shirt, and the use of the citrus fruit from Sicily, where the Expedition of the Thousand started.  So this cocktail represents the unification of northern and southern Italy: Campari from Milan and Oranges from Sicily.

This drink is also known as Campari Orange, at the wish of the Milan company “Campari”. There’s also a very well known version in the centre of Italy, that uses bitter orange soda instead of orange juice: this cocktail is called Cardinale.

And now, if you want to know more about Garibaldi and what he did, go give a look at our wonderful video lesson on the history of Italian Unification!

Leave a Reply