By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
In these difficult times, we need to spoil ourselves with something special if we can. To fight stress and pessimistic thoughts, why not make a festive drink? No need to overdo it, but every once in a while, the best way to fight problems is to drown them in a sophisticated cocktail. Make that an Italian cocktail! Relax your nerves, get a little tipsy, and let the world slip away and pretend that you are on the Amalfi Coast watching the sun set.
I recently decided to explore the interesting world of old-fashioned Italian cocktails. I found that all these concoctions are very easy to make, and they have the power to change your bad mood into a smile. So let's get cheered up! This difficult time will pass and, no matter the time of day, somewhere in the world it’s time for a beautiful aperitivo!
The Sparkling Bellini
Do you feel like tasting something fruity, elegant, and sparkling?
The classic cocktail Bellini is delicious and easy to prepare. You only need two ingredients. It’s concocted from white peach pulp and sparkling white wine, such as Prosecco, Spumante Brut, or Champagne if you have it.
The Bellini was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, the chief barman of Harry's Bar in Venice in 1948. It’s an old-fashioned cocktail, but it is evergreen and famous worldwide. Cipriani named his cocktail Bellini in honor of Giovanni Bellini, a Venetian Renaissance painter who loved to use light colors and painted a saint dressed in the same pastel color of this cocktail.
The original recipe is easy to make and even easier to sip for a sassy brunch or a classy aperitif with a sweet, fruity taste.
Are you ready to prepare you own Bellini? Chill a bottle of sparkling wine and find a peach!
2/3 cup of good Prosecco, chilled
1/3 cup of puréed peach pulp
Peel a ripe, white peach and cut it in half. Place in a bowl and mash it—don't put it into the blender. Chill the purée for one hour.
Pour 1/3 of the purée in a champagne flute, and add 2/3 of the very cold Prosecco.
Stir to combine and serve. Cheers!
Spritz: The Taste of Italian Summertime
Here in Italy, the Spritz is very popular. This aperitif, like the Bellini, was born in Venice. The Spritz was created when the Habsburg Empire dominated the Veneto. The world "Spritz" comes from spritzen ("spray") because local wines where too strong for them. It is made with Prosecco, Aperol, soda/sparkling mineral water, and a slice of fresh red orange. Aperol gives the cocktail a vibrant orange hue and a crisp flavor. A slice or a zest of orange, complete the glass.
It’s a very refreshing cocktail with a bitter-sweet aftertaste much appreciated in Italy.
To serve the real Spritz, you need a regular wine glass.
3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 part soda water
Slice of orange
Some ice cubes
Pour the Aperol into an old-fashioned glass over ice. Add the chilled Prosecco, then the soda water. Top with a slice or a zest of red orange.
Serve with some green olives, toasted peanuts, and chips.
"Tu vuò fa l'americano
Siente a me, chi t'ho fa fa?
Tu vuoi vivere alla moda
Ma se bevi whisky and soda
Po' te sente 'e disturbà"
Do you need the perfect drink for any occasion? Sip an Americano!
This drink was first created in Milano and is the father of the famous Negroni. Its famous origins are rooted in the early 60s at the Caffè Campari and was called Milano-Torino, a concoction made from the red Vermouth from Turin and the bitter Campari from Milan.
The cocktail we know today as an Americano was actually invented by Gaspare Campari in the 30s to celebrate the triumph of boxer Primo Carnera during a match in New York—and for this reason it was called “l’Americano” ("the American").
In Ian Fleming’s novel Casino Royale, a bored James Bond drinks an Americano, adding Perrier because “Expensive soda water is the cheapest way to improve a poor drink." Well, we all know what your favorite drink is, Mr. Bond.
5/10 Vermouth rosso
5/10 Bitter Campari
Stir directly in an ice-filled highball glass, top it up with soda water and garnish with a slice of orange.
The Famous Negroni
Even though this is not my favorite concoction, I’m sure the famous Negroni, with its bittersweet taste, will delight your palate.
Negroni was invented in my city, Florence, in a glamorous bar not far from my house.
It was 1919, and the Caffè Casoni was in Via de' Tornabuoni, the "fashion street." Legend says that the aristocratic Camillo Negroni, who used to order the classic Americano, asked the bartender, Fosco Scarselli, to replace club soda with something stronger—like gin. Thus, just a few steps from my house, one of the most iconic Italian cocktails of all time was created.
The sly Negroni family was quick to take advantage of the cocktail’s success, founding the Negroni Distillery in Treviso in Northern Italy. There, they produced a ready-made version of the drink, sold as Antico Negroni. The distillery is still open today, owned by a new family.
1/3 Vermouth rosso
1/3 Bitter Campari
1/3 Dry Gin
Slice of orange or lemon peel
Add all the ingredients over ice into a medium tumbler, old-fashioned glass, or a champagne coup.
Stir the ingredients directly in your glass and garnish with a half slice of orange and lemon peel.
Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup,Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), and Superfoods, Ippo is currently finishing her latest work, The Lords of Florence (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).