9 Cocktails Invented in Italy

While Italy is renowned for its wines, what you might not know is Italy also boasts delicious cocktails. Whether you are a true lover of cocktails or a cocktail hater, once you try one of these nine Italian cocktails, you’ll have a new favorite drink!

Aperol Spritz | Venice

Invented in Venice in the 1950’s, this crisp and refreshing cocktail can be spotted in the hands of Italians all over Italy these days! One of the most popular cocktails for social occasions, this red-tinted cocktail combines Prosecco, Aperol, soda water, and an orange twist to create a blend of orange, peach, and rhubarb flavors. If you’re sitting in the warm afternoon sun and could use a cold drink, the Aperol Spritz is an excellent choice.

FUN FACT: On June 29, 2012 Aperol Spritz received the Guinness World Record for the largest spritz toast with over 2,600 participants.

Aperol Spritz ingredients:

Ice and a slice of orange
3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
A splash of soda

How do you make an Aperol Spritz?

Start by adding ice into the glass. First, pour in the Prosecco, then the Aperol and finally, add a splash of soda. Top it off with a slice of orange (or a twist, if you are feeling fancy.) This serving avoids the Aperol settling at the bottom. Cin cin!

Bellini | Veneto

Want to have a nice refreshing cocktail with your morning meal? Then look no further than the Bellini. This delicious drink, invented in Veneto by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1948, combines sparkling wine with white peach juice to create a refreshingly light and fruity taste. So, when you find yourself sitting at a table in Italy eating breakfast, don’t forget to order yourself this Italian favorite!

FUN FACT: The Bellini is named after Giovanni Bellini because the color of the cocktail reminded Cipriani of Bellini’s paintings.

Bellini Ingredients:

1 tablespoon white peach puree
1 glass of Prosecco

How do you make a Bellini?

Put one tablespoon of white peach puree into the bottom of a chilled flute glass. Now fill the glass slowly with Prosecco or Champagne so it mixes well with the puree.

Garibaldi | Novara

Also known as a Campari-Orange, the Garibaldi cocktail combines Campari, orange juice, and a half slice of orange and will fill your taste buds with a refreshing citrus and bitter taste. Invented in Novara, this cocktail represents the unification of the north and south of Italy with Campari from Milan and oranges from Sicily.

FUN FACT: The Garibaldi is named after one of Italy’s “fathers of the fatherland.”

Garibaldi ingredients:

1 ounce (30 milliliters) Campari
3 ounces (90 milliliters) freshly squeezed orange juice
Plenty of ice
Half a slice of orange, for garnish

How do you make a Garibaldi?

Fill a tumbler with ice. Add the Campari and top it with orange juice. Give it a stir and garnish with half a slice of orange, if you like.

Hugo | Trentino-Alto Adige

This deeply refreshing and tasty cocktail is the “it” cocktail for a summer in Europe. The Hugo was invented in the Trentino-Alto Adige in 2005 by Roland Gruber, a bartender from Zeno Wine & Cocktail Bar. Perfect for a hot summer day, this cocktail is a combination of Prosecco (or any sparkling wine), elderflower syrup, soda water, mint leaves, and lime slices. If you are need of a refreshing drink to cool you down at any time of the day, look no further than the Hugo.

FUN FACT: The Hugo is now a hugely popular cocktail in Germany.

Hugo ingredients:

Ice cubes
Fresh mint
1 part elderflower concentrate
3 parts Italian Prosecco or any brut sparkling wine (non-sweet)
1 wedge of lemon or lime, squeezed

How do you make a Hugo?

Place ice cubes in a large wine glass. Gently muddle the mint, either using a pestle or your (clean) fingertips. Add to the glass along with juice of one lemon wedge. Add one part elderflower concentrate a follow up with 3 parts Prosecco.

L’Americano | Milan

Originally called a Milano-Torino, L’Americano was invented in Gaspare Campari’s bar, Caffe Campari, in Milan in the 1860’s. The name was changed to Americano because once Americans got a taste of the refreshingly light and bitter cocktail they couldn’t get enough of it. Combining Campari, sweet Vermouth, and club soda, l’Americano is a perfect drink for any occasion.

FUN FACT: L’Americano was the first drink ordered by James Bond in the first novel in Ian Fleming’s series, Casino Royale.

L’Americano ingredients:

1 1⁄2 oz. Campari
1 1⁄2 oz. sweet vermouth
Soda water to top
Orange for garnish

How do you make a L’Americano?

Fill a highball glass with ice, add Campari and vermouth and top generously with soda, taking care not to exceed a 1:1:2 ratio. Garnish with an orange slice or twist.

Limoncello | Capri

While the Limoncello is not actually a cocktail, this liqueur is worth mentioning! The origin is a maze of conflicting stories, but the most common story claims Limoncello was invented on Capri by the family of Massimo Canale, who trademarked Limoncello in 1988. This delicious liqueur is produced in Southern Italy (Gulf of Naples, Sorrentino Peninsula, and Amalfi Coast) using only lemon zest, pure grain alcohol, water, and sugar. Limoncello is a sweet digestif that is nice to enjoy after a meal.

FUN FACT: Limoncello was offered to Robert Langdon, the main character in Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Limoncello ingredients:

zest of 6 or 7 large organic lemons
1 litre or quart of pure grain alcohol or vodka
5 cups (1250 ml) water
3 cups (700 gr) sugar

How do you make Limoncello?

Peel the zest from the lemons with a vegetable peeler and place them into a large glass jar. Try to avoid the bitter white pith of the lemon skin, under the yellow zest. Cover the glass jar with plastic wrap and store it in a cool place for 8 days.

On day 6: Combine water and boiling water to make a syrup. Let it cool overnight.

Day 7: Strain lemon peels from the alcohol mix, add syrup and serve.

Negroni | Florence

Created by Count Camillo Negroni at Caffe Casoni in Florence in 1919, this popular Italian drink is an intriguing twist on l’Americano. Legend has it that Count Camillo Negroni would always order l’Americano replacing the club soda with gin, hence the Negroni was born. Note: Because it swaps gin for soda, this is a stronger cocktail than the l’Americano. With a combination of Campari, Gin, sweet Vermouth, and an orange twist, the Negroni provides the drinker with a refreshing citrus and bitter taste.

FUN FACT: Orson Wells described the Negroni as: ‘The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.'”

Negroni ingredients:

1 oz Campari
1 oz gin
1 oz Sweet vermouth (we recommend Martini & Rossi Rosso or Cinzano Rosso)
Orange peel garnish

How do you make a Negroni?

Add all the ingredients to an highball or tumbler and fill with ice. Stir until cold and garnish with an orange peel.

Pirlo | Brescia

Not to get confused with the famous footballer, Andrea Pirlo, the Pirlo cocktail is a delightful mix of light and bitter tastes. Using white wine or sparkling wine, Campari (or Aperol), and sparkling water (if using white wine), the Pirlo is a perfect complement to pre-dinner appetizers. Next time you want a drink before dinner, try a Pirlo. You won’t be disappointed!

FUN FACT: Originating in Brescia, the name Pirlo, meaning “fall,” comes from the circular, falling patterns Campari makes when being poured into white wine.

Pirlo ingredients:

1 part Campari
2-3 parts dry sparkling Italian white wine (preferably Pignoletto frizzante, never prosecco)
Half an orange slice to garnish

How do you make a Pirlo?

To a large, balloon-style wineglass, add the Campari and the wine. Garnish with a slice of orange.

Sbagliato | Milan

Invented in Bar Basso in Milan, the Negroni Sbagliato, or just Sbagliato, is the perfect drink for a brunch or evening refreshment. This sweet citrus and bitter drink is created using Prosecco, Campari, sweet Vermouth, and an orange twist. Whether you’re just starting your day or ending it, the Sbagliato is just the thing.

FUN FACT: Sbagliato translates as “wrong” or “mistake” for the Sbagliato cocktail was made by mistake when a bartender was trying to make a Negroni cocktail.

Sbagliato ingredients:

4 ounces dry Prosecco or other sparkling white wine
1 ounce sweet vermouth
½ ounce Campari
Club soda
Lime wheel

How do you make a Sbagliato?

Pour the Prosecco into an ice-filled large wine or rocks glass. Add vermouth and Campari and top it off with club soda, gently stir together and garnish with lime wheel.

Join us for cocktails in Rome and around Europe

Inspired to sample some of these lovely beverages? We offer food and drink tours from Barcelona, to London, and from Venice to Rome. Our Golf Cart and Drinks Evening Tour of Rome is a particularly good way to sample some of the above-listed drinks while enjoying the sites of the Eternal City.

Regardless of how you chose to enjoy them, cin cin!

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