In Italy, a cocktail is generally referred to as an aperitivo, a drink that stimulates the appetite and prepares the digestive system before a meal. These drinks are usually dry as opposed to sweet as they are consumed pre-meal and often served with aperitivo food such as olives, crostini, nuts, chips – simple and classic.

A few classic Italian cocktails:

Negroni – gin, vermouth, Campari, orange twist
Americano – soda water, vermouth, Campari, orange twist
Aperol Spritz – prosecco, Aperol, soda water

Campari Spritz – prosecco, Campari, soda water
Bellini – prosecco and peach purée

Aperol vs Campari

Aperol is sweeter and more balanced than Campari, the flavor most closely associated with hints of rhubarb, bitter herbs and burnt orange. Campari has a more bitter taste, with notes of orange peel, cinnamon, cherry and clove. The latter is also higher in alcohol content. 

A brief history…

Negroni – In 1919 at Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy, Count Camillo Negroni is believed to have created this classic Italian drink by asking his bartender friend to add gin to his Americano cocktail instead of soda water. Hence, the Negroni!

Americano – Despite its name, this is another Italian cocktail that primarily uses Italian ingredients. It dates back to 1806 when Italian bartender, Gaspare Campari, mixed his secret signature concoction, Camapari, with sweet vermouth and ultimately soda water. The drink became very popular with Americans, thus the name. 

Bellini – This legendary cocktail was created by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1948 at Harry’s Bar in Venice. Inspired by painter, Giovani Bellini and Cipriani’s love of white peaches which were in abundance, this aperitivo became a fast favorite at Cipriani restaurants, going from a seasonal libation to one of their world renown signature drinks.