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
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.
Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.
Top with the sparkling water.
Garnish with a quarter of a passion fruit.
Spritz with orange blossom spray.