We’re all for a high-octane lowball of bourbon as a way to jump-start the evening, but sometimes you want to edge into the night (or game day) a little more slowly. Which is where the category of drinks known as aperitifs comes in. Nobody does them better than the seemingly never intoxicated Italians, whose brightly colored, low-alcohol liqueurs flavored with fruit, spices and other botanicals have recently become the darlings of American bartenders. Sure, you could mix them in any number of novel cocktails, but it’s tough to beat Italy’s beloved spritz, a refreshing, bracing drink made simply with prosecco and the spicy orange aperitif Aperol. Don’t be afraid to play Italian barman yourself and sub in one of the other liqueurs on this page, according to your taste.
• 3 oz. prosecco
• 2 oz. Aperol
• Splash of soda water
• Fresh rosemary sprig
• Orange slice
Fill a stemmed wineglass with ice. Top with prosecco, Aperol and soda water. Stir with fresh rosemary sprig. Garnish with rosemary and orange.
THE BITTER TRUTH
Alternatively called -bitters or liqueurs, these Italian aperitifs can be sipped on the rocks with soda or mixed into more complicated cocktails.
Flavored with herbs, spices and orange peel, this liqueur can add oomph to a white wine cocktail.
The perfect balance of bitter and sweet makes this a favorite mixer of bartenders. Try it in a classic negroni.
This artichoke-based liqueur tastes like herbaceous Coca-Cola and mixes well with bourbon.