In Italian, the name of this effervescent elixir from bartender Nathan Elliot means “don’t worry about it.” One look at its easy build-in-the-glass recipe and low-ABV day-drinkability, and you can see why. Unlike many sparkling wine cocktails, the Figurati doesn’t use Champagne, prosecco or any other white, or even rosé, sparkling wine. Instead, Elliot uses lambrusco, and the famed Italian sparkler from Lombardy proves to be just the ticket for the base.
Many drinkers only know lambrusco as Riunite, an inexpensive and widely produced brand that was popular in the 1970s. However, it’s a broad style of wine that has plenty of more compelling examples, many of which work well in cocktails like the Figurati. “While being light and effervescent, lambrusco is still full of depth and character,” says Elliott, who crafted the Figurati when he was the lead bartender at Il Solito in Portland, Oregon. “It also provides just enough sweetness to satisfy most palates without being overly sweet; it’s a great variant to the traditional sparkling white wine.”
To bolster the wine, Elliot adds Cappelletti aperitivo. This red-orange Italian liqueur is similar in ways to Campari, though it has a wine base, a lower ABV and is colored with natural carmine. You can even use it to replace Campari in your favorite Americano or Negroni recipe, which will lead to a slightly drier and lighter flavor.
To give it even more red color, as well as a punch of botanicals, Elliot mixes in two dashes of Peychaud’s bitters. Most famously used in the Sazerac, these historic New Orleans bitter have elements of gentian, anise and citrus along with a crimson hue.
The Figurati is best served as a pre-dinner aperitif, especially when paired with some charcuterie or cheese. Or, try replacing your usual Aperol Spritz with the Figurati for your next patio happy hour. You might even find a renewed love of lambrusco through it.
- 4 ounces lambrusco, chilled
- 1 ounce Cappelletti aperitivo, chilled
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- Garnish: lemon twist
Add the lambrusco, Cappelletti and Peychaud’s bitters into a Champagne flute, stirring gently to combine.
Express the oil from a lemon twist over the glass and place the twist on the rim to garnish.