New Cocktails for Success – the Rise of the Italian Aperitivo

New Cocktails for Success – the Rise of the Italian Aperitivo

From Pizza to espresso to gelato, we owe much of our culinary culture to Italy.  Another trend that’s been gaining traction with leading bars and fashion-forward home entertainers is the aperitivo, and aperitivo hour.  

Roughly translated as “opener” or “to open”, an aperitivo is a pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet your appetite, sipping on a drink as an appetizer or a pre-dinner ritual. Aperitivo-style cocktails or beverages are usually not too strong, allowing you – or your customers – to enjoy one or two before dinner. As drinkers increasingly take a fancy to lower-alcohol options, aperitivo-style drinks are gaining massively in popularity, with Millennials especially favouring lower alcohol.

At the same time, the herb-based flavour of many aperitivo ingredients tends towards bitter instead of sweet.  This suits the shift away from sugar-based liquors towards more plant-based ingredients that deliver more sophisticated tastes.

Welcome to Aperitivo Hour!

In many sophisticated bars and eateries,  complex, hard-hitting and sugary cocktails are making way for aperitivo-style options, accompanied by bijou, artisanal snacks. These snacks may include Italian staples such as olives, cured meats (like prosciutto and salami), marinated vegetables, cheese and grissini (or breadsticks). Bars and venues with an eye on this trend are cashing in by offering Aperitivo deals that include a drink and a selection of snacks for one inclusive price.

As Australians embrace the ritual of meeting up with friends for pre-dinner drinks and nibbles, an Aperitivo or two are increasingly seen as the perfect way to start the evening with a touch of sophistication – and a great way to stimulate the appetite. The sassy spritz has become an after-work staple for many, replacing a glass of wine or beer. The beauty of aperitivo-style cocktails is that they are so simple and easy to make.

The key to the perfect aperitivo is having the right balance between the ingredients used to create it. Let’s have a look at some options you could offer in your bar or venue (and also enjoy at home!). The following Aperitivo-style cocktails are built on some of the most iconic Italian liqueurs, with incredible stories to match their authentic flavours.

SELECT Aperitivo

The essential ingredient of the Original Venetian Spritz.

Flavour Profile

ABV 14%

Aroma
Herbaceous with Notes of orange citrus & Vanilla.

Palette
Sweet-sour flavour with notes of citrus and vanilla.

Finish
Smooth & herbaceous with plenty of fruit & vanilla

Select Aperitivo was created back in 1920 in the Castello district of Venice by blending 30 botanicals, including juniper berries and rhubarb roots, that contribute to creating a sophisticated but still approachable bittersweet flavour. When the popularity of Select began to spread, the Select Spritz soon became a favourite, establishing Select as the star of the Venetian cocktail scene. The recipe is simple, and the result is a well-balanced, bittersweet tasting Spritz cocktail that’s deliciously refreshing.

Select Spritz – The Original Venetian Spritz

Ingredients

60mL Select Aperitivo Liqueur
90mL Prosecco
30mL Sparkling water
1 Green olive

Method

Pour ingredients into a wine glass over ice. Stir and garnish with a single green olive.

If you’re in Melbourne, drop in to Galah or The Botanical Hotel in South Yarra to sample a Select Spritz. Or if you’re visiting Port Douglas, the Sea Temple Resort & Spa serves a delicious Select Spritz. Enjoy aperitivo hour watching the sun set over a spectacular tropical vista.

Amaro Montenegro

A traditional amaro distilled in Bologna, Italy. It is made from a secret blend of 40 botanicals, including vanilla, orange peels and eucalyptus.

Flavour Profile

ABV 23%

Colour

Amber-coloured and bright with delicate mahogany transparencies on the outer edges.

Nose
Citrus entry, coming with orange peel, leaves room for notes of lime and mandarin. Marjoram and thyme’s aroma is enriched by spiced and balsamic blends. Complex roasted notes complete an elegant finish.

Taste
Soft and silky mouthfeel with a satisfying balance between sweet and bitter notes.

Created in 1885, Amaro Montenegro is a blend of 40 hand-selected botanicals inspired by the travels of herbalist Stanislao Cobianchi, who fled his native Bologna to avoid becoming a priest. To this day, Amaro Montenegro is created according to the original recipe, which has been carefully handed down from generation to generation. The final and fundamental element of this unique Amaro is called the ‘Premio’. Created by the Master Herbalist, the Premio, meaning ‘prize’ in Italian, is a micro-distillate that creates the unrivalled, delicate complexity of Amaro Montenegro. With such a unique and complex flavour profile, Amaro Montenegro creates the effortless yet incredibly delicious…

Monte & Tonic

Ingredients

50mL Amaro Montenegro
120mL tonic water

Method

Add the Amaro Montenegro to a glass filled with ice.
Top up with the tonic water.
Garnish with orange zest.

Fiorente

An all-natural Italian liqueur made of wild elderflowers from the Italian Alps. Its formula includes mint, lemon and lime infusions, adding a zesty finish to its delightfully floral and herbal character.

Flavour Profile

ABV 20%

Colour
Vibrant light yellow with golden highlights.

Nose
The aromas are delightfully floral with the freshness of elderflowers.

Taste
The taste is clean and zesty due to the addition of lemon peel and mint in the infusion.

Fittingly named after Flora, the Roman goddess of flowering plants, Fiorente offers a delightfully floral nose and a clean and zesty taste. Thanks to lower sugar content than most other elderflower liqueurs, the flavour is not too sweet but perfectly balanced, making it an essential aperitivo ingredient.

Fiorente Spritz

Balanced and floral with a hint of acidity, this delicious aperitivo is perfect to offer as a sharing jug.

Ingredients

200mL Fiorente
400mL prosecco
200mL soda water
8 thick lime wedges
Mint leaves
Serves 4 people

Method

Fill a cocktail jug with ice and add the Fiorente, prosecco & soda water.
Squeeze in the lime wedges, mix & garnish with mint leaves.

Bartenders Tip:

To put a twist on this great spritz, top with Cranberry juice.

If you’re in Melbourne, try a Fiorente Spritz at The Inn Hotel and The Apollo Bay Hotel. The Ville Resort & Casino in Townsville serves a spectacular Fiorente Spritz too.

VILLA MASSA Limoncello

This traditional liqueur from the Amalfi Coast is a symbol of local hospitality and the living traditions of Sorrento

Flavour Profile

ABV 30%

Nose
A range of citrus fragrances evoking different nuances of lemons.

Palate
Sweet, with the unmistakable crisp taste of lemon.

Finish
Long with a dry finish.

Limoncello is a sweet lemon liqueur that originated in the Campania region of Italy.

The recorded history of limoncello begins at the end of the nineteenth century. Lemon liqueur was present on the tables of local families, used as an aperitif or digestive. It is traditionally made using the zest of the lemons grown in the Sorrentine Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast and the Isle of Capri. Each family in the region has its own unique recipe and blending techniques for producing limoncello. The Massa’s traditional family recipe dated back to 1890 and was made using fruits grown on the family lemon grove. Since then, Villa Massa has grown to become the market leader amongst Limoncello producers and has won many awards along the way.

Villa Massa Sorrento Spritz

The Villa Massa Sorrento Spritz is a delicate and citrus spritz that is refreshing and crisp. You will be delighted at the depth of flavour of this authentic Italian limoncello.

Ingredients

45mL Villa Massa​ Limoncello
60mL Soda water
90mL Prosecco ​(to top)
Ice
Fresh basil leaves​ and lemon wheel

Method

Built over ice

Bartender’s Tip

Slap basil on your palm to release its aroma.

Airlie Beach Hotel is a great venue for enjoying the Villa Massa Spritz and so is El Grekos Taverna, Palm Cove.

Disaronno Originale

An amber-colour original amaretto with a characteristic taste made in Saronno, Italy.

Flavour Profile

ABV 20%

Nose
The sweet almond aroma on the nose is bright and lively.

Palate
The almond flavour is not super cloying and gives a nutty, toasted back-note on the finish.

Finish
Sweet taste of almond and marzipan.

The world’s number one Italian liqueur and the fastest-growing liqueur brand in Australia* traces its lineage back to the Renaissance. In 1525, Bernardino Luini of the Leonardo Da Vinci School of Art was commissioned to paint a fresco of the Madonna and chose a young, fair-haired innkeeper as his model. The young girl fell deeply in love with Bernardino and was determined to thank him for choosing her as his model. Using the pure essences of 17 herbs and fruits steeped in apricot kernel oil, she created a beautiful amber coloured liqueur. This gift was the first bottle of Disaronno.

Disaronno Fizz

The Disaronno Fizz is a low-alcohol drink with a distinct character. The original taste and unmistakable aroma of Disaronno are combined with fizzy soda bubbles and lemon juice for a refreshing and thirst-quenching cocktail. It’s a fresh and zesty aperitif – no wonder it’s so popular around the world.

Ingredients

45mL Disaronno
15mL Lemon juice
Top with soda
Lemon wedge

Method

Pour Disaronno into a glass filled with ice, then add some Soda water to taste and a few drops of fresh lemon juice.

Bartender’s Tip

Replace lemon wedge with orange.

Sydneysiders wanting to try delicious Disaronno cocktails can head to Matteo Downtown or Bar Toppi.

Regardless of how you do it, Aperitivo hour is a beloved tradition and one well put to work for your business. If you’d like to “open up” to new opportunities and stock any of our brands, please contact your local Spirits Platform State Manager (listed below) or your local BDM. You can also keep in touch with the latest trends, new releases, and take advantage of exclusive offers by subscribing at  https://spiritsplatform.com.au/new-subscribers/