A partial list of cocktails and drinks to try while visiting Italy or enjoying at home
Oh summer, how we love thee. Particularly so if it’s spent in Italy! Italian summers are filled with sun, sand, sea, and of course, gelato! Not to be outdone by any of these wonderful aspects of summer are the refreshing cocktails and spirits found all over Italy. And yes, you can find any of these during any time of year; yet they seem to go down that much smoother in the heat. And Italy is no stranger to delicious drinks! So, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Italy this summer, be sure to order one of the below, or perhaps, make it your goal to taste them all while there. You will not be disappointed, though you might be a bit tipsy.
Aperitivo: Aperitivi, or openers, are drinks typically enjoyed before dinner as they are considered to “open” your stomach or appetite and prepare you for the meal you’re about to enjoy.
Aperol: As the name implies, this is a favored pre-dinner opener in Italy. Lighter in color, bitterness and alcohol content than Campari, Aperol has a citrus flavor with bitter undertones and is best enjoyed as an aperitif with added club soda.
Spritz: If the bitterness of the Negroni is too much, try the spritz, which is similar but lighter and made with Campari, Prosecco and club soda. This will give you a sense of the full, classic Negroni but the sweetness will make it easier to tolerate for some.
Prosecco: Made from prosecco grapes, prosecco is Italy’s version of the more expensive champagne. Made mostly in Northern Italy, in the Veneto region near Venice, it can be fizzy or flat and enjoyed straight or added to fruity drinks, like the above-mentioned Bellini.
Digestivo: Digestives are used to aide in the digestion process, particularly after a large Italian meal. Drink the below if you’ve overdone it or if you simply want to end the meal like the locals do!
Limoncello: If you’ve overdone it at the dinner table and think you just can’t fit one more bite of food, reach over for a limoncello. This digestive drink comes from the island of Capri, not too surprising seeing the area is well known worldwide for their lemons, and is one of Italy’s most famous drinks. While favored year-round, consumption goes up during the summer months. If headed to a family meal or celebration, you will likely find this on the table afterwards. Someone will most likely protest, “Ho mangiato troppo! Ci facciamo un limoncello?” or “I ate way too much! Shall we have a limoncello?”
Espresso Corretto: Typically enjoyed after dinner, (or delicious at any time of day, really!) a “corrected espresso” is a shot of espresso with some grappa, Sambuca or anisette liquor added. Delicious with dessert and optimal for dunking a few crunchy anisette biscotti, this also makes a great base for dunking your ladyfingers when making Tiramisu at home.
The above is just a partial list of cocktails and drinks to try while visiting Italy, so be sure to order a few during your stay.
Francesca Montillo is a native Italian currently living in Boston and the founder of Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures, which provides small group culinary adventures to Italy, as well as private trip planning and organizing. She is also a culinary instructor in the Boston area. She maintains strong ties to her native land and is very excited to be able to bring folks to Italy on her adventures.
You can learn more about her at www.thelazyitalian.com