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Aperitivo #1

Aperitivo #1 cocktail in a highball glass with floating passion fruit seeds

Steven Freihon

The aperitivo is a cocktail typically containing low-alcohol liqueurs and/or vermouths that is intended to open up your palate and stimulate the appetite before a meal. Marissa Huff, the author of “Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy,” says that in Italy, aperitivo culture has become woven into the country’s social fabric. It’s an excuse to meet friends before a meal as well as a time to wind down in the early evening and relax with a refreshing drink after work. 

In recent years, U.S. drinkers have embraced this culture so much that it’s no longer restricted to the early evening pre-dinner hours. “Aperitivo hour has blurred into entire evenings spent sipping and snacking,” says Huff. The Aperol Spritz is a classic example of a cocktail that makes regular appearances during such occasions. But if you want to step outside the classic box, New York City’s award-winning bar Dante has your inspiration.

Aperitivo #1 is a floral elixir that balances bitterness and citrus. It features bittersweet Aperol with flowery Lillet and bianco vermouth. Passionfruit supplies tartness, while a splash of tequila enhances the drink’s vegetal notes and increases its proof. Mango vinegar and orange flower water contribute unexpected flavors, a pinch of salt brings everything together in harmony, and sparkling water lends refreshing bubbles.

Yes, there’s a lot going on in this drink. Simple spritzes will always have their place, but the next time you want to bring a touch of creativity to your pre-dinner drink, try the Aperitivo #1.


  • 1 ounce Aperol

  • 1/2 ounce blanco tequila

  • 1/2 ounce Lillet blanc

  • 1/2 ounce bianco vermouth (such as Martini & Rossi) 

  • 1 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/2 ounce passion fruit puree

  • 5 dashes mango vinegar

  • 5 drops orange flower water

  • 1 pinch Maldon salt

  • Sparkling water, to top

  • Garnish: 1/4 passion fruit

  • Garnish: orange blossom spray


  1. Add the Aperol, tequila, Lillet blanc, bianco vermouth, orange juice, passion fruit puree, mango vinegar, orange flower water and salt into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.

  3. Top with the sparkling water.

  4. Garnish with a quarter of a passion fruit.

  5. Spritz with orange blossom spray.