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15 Classic Italian Cocktails That Made History

Karen Frazier
Aperol spritz cocktail decorated with orange and strawberry

Italy has contributed a lot to the cocktail world, and these Italian mixed drinks are classics that have become an important part of every bartender's repertoire. These delicious Italian classic cocktails bring you a taste of Italy, whether you order them in a bar or make them for yourself.

1. Spritz Veneziano (Aperol Spritz)

The spritz Veneziano is also known as the Aperol spritz or, in Italy, simply a spritz. It became popular as a summer drink in Northern Italy and has come to be associated with Italian summer. The Aperol spritz has a beautiful sunset color and a bittersweet, fizzy flavor profile thanks to the use of bitter orange flavored spirit Aperol. Make it with a dry Italian sparkling wine, Prosecco, for a bittersweet and refreshing cocktail that will tickle your nose with its bubbles and your tastebuds with its flavors.

Two women with aperol spritz drinks

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Aperol
  • 3 ounces Prosecco
  • ¾ ounces club soda
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Fill a wine glass with ice.
  2. Add the Aperol, Prosecco, and club soda. Stir.
  3. Garnish with the orange peel

2. Bellini

As the mimosa is to French brunch cocktails, the bellini is to Italian brunches. The Bellini was invented in Italy in the late 1930s or early 1940s and named after Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini. Bellini used a unique shade of pink in his paintings that was a near match for the color of this classic peach and sparkling wine cocktail that's become a brunch mainstay not just in Italy, but around the world.

Bellini and fresh peaches

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces white peach purée, chilled
  • 4 ounces chilled Prosecco

Instructions

  1. In a Champagne flute, combine the peach purée and the Prosecco.
  2. Stir briefly.

3. Negroni

The negroni is an intriguing blend of bitter Campari, aromatic dry gin, and sweet vermouth. The result is a sunset colored cocktail with a bittersweet edge. The cocktail was invented in Florence, Italy around 1920, and it's become a mixed drink mainstay - almost every bar has one on the menu along with a variation or two. Serve it in a rocks glass on ice with a twist of orange.

Negroni cocktail with orange peel and ice

4. Negroni Sbagliato

The origins of the negroni sbagliato are not well-known, but legend holds that it resulted from a harried Italian bartender mistaking Prosecco for gin when making a classic negroni. The result became popular, and the name "negroni sbagliato" means "messed up negroni."

Negroni sbagliato drink

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 ounces dry Prosecco
  • Orange twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Fill a rocks glass with ice.
  2. Add the Campari and vermouth. Stir to chill.
  3. Top off with the prosecco. Garnish with the orange twist.

5. Pirlo

The pirlo is quite similar to the Aperol spritz - the difference is that it contains Campari in place of Aperol. Campari is more bitter and less sweet than Aperol with a hint of rhubarb, so this drink makes a good Italian apéritif (aperitivi in Italian). It was invented in Bressica, Italy. And while it isn't as well known as an Aperol spritz, it's definitely a delicious alternative to its more famous cousin.

Pirlo cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Campari
  • 3 ounces Prosecco
  • ¾ ounces club soda
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Fill a wine glass with ice.
  2. Add the Campari, Prosecco, and club soda. Stir.
  3. Garnish with the orange peel.

6. Hugo

While the Hugo hasn't been around for as long as some of the other Italian cocktails, it's become quite well known as a cocktail you definitely need to try when you travel to Italy. It was invented in 2005 in Aldo Aldige, and it is a fragrant, herbaceous, slightly floral blend of classic Italian ingredients. It's the perfect drink for spring or summer.

Hugo cocktail

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a wine glass, muddle the mint with the elderflower syrup.
  2. Add the ice and Prosecco. Stir gently.
  3. Squeeze the lemon wedge into the drink and use as garnish.

7. Puccini

The Puccini is similar to the bellini, but it uses mandarin juice in place of the peach purée. It's named for the composer of Madame Butterfly, and it was invented in Venice.

Puccini cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed mandarin juice
  • 2 ounces dry Prosecco, chilled
  • Mandarin wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pour the mandarin juice into a Champagne flute.
  2. Top with the Prosecco and garnish with the mandarin wedge.

8. Americano

Not to be mistaken for the espresso drink with the same name, the Americano is a classic Italian mixed drink combination of bitter and sweet. Made with Campari and sweet vermouth, it has a lovely sunset red color. It was invented in Italy in the mid-1800s, and it has been a mainstay of the Italian cocktail world ever since.

Refreshing Cold Americano Cocktail with an Orange Garnish

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Campari
  • 1½ ounces sweet vermouth
  • Ice
  • Splash of club soda
  • Orange wedge or twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a rocks glass, combine the Campari and vermouth. Stir.
  2. Add the ice and a splash of club soda. Garnish with the orange wedge.

9. Rossini

The Rossini is another take on the bellini. Instead of peach purée, it uses puréed strawberries for a sweet, early summer flavor. The cocktail was named after Italian composer Gioachino Rossini and invented in Italy, and it's a popular brunch cocktail around the world.

Rossini cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce puréed strawberries
  • 3 ounces dry Prosecco, chilled
  • Strawberry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Put the strawberry purée into a Champagne flute.
  2. Top off with the Prosecco and garnish with a strawberry.

10. Garibaldi

The Garibaldi is named after an Italian revolutionary, and it contains classic Italian ingredients including Campari and freshly squeezed orange juice. The result is citrus, sweet, and bitter in perfect balance in a sunny orange cocktail.

Garibaldi cocktails

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 1½ ounces Campari
  • 4 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Orange wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.
  2. Add the Campari and orange juice. Stir.
  3. Garnish with the orange wedge.

11. Angelo Azzurro

The sky blue angelo azzurro (blue angel) originated in Italy as a reflection of the blue waters that surround the country. It gets its color from blue curaçao, and the cocktail has become an Italian mainstay.

Angelo azzurro cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces triple sec
  • ½ ounce blue curaçao
  • 3 ounces dry gin
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the triple sec, blue curaçao, and gin.
  3. Add the ice and stir to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.

12. Milano-Torino (Mi-To)

The Mi-To is similar to the Americano. In fact, it's basically an Americano minus the club soda. It has equal parts of Campari and sweet vermouth for the perfect balance of bittersweet. It was invented in the 1860s in Italy and remains popular today throughout the country.

Mi-To cocktail

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 1½ ounces Campari
  • 1½ ounces sweet vermouth
  • Orange slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a rocks glass filled with ice, combine the Campari and sweet vermouth. Stir.
  2. Garnish with the orange slice

13. Gin and It

If you took a martini and made it with sweet vermouth instead of dry (and served it on the rocks), you'd have the Italian Gin and It. In this case, It stands for Italy, and this a popular and delicious cocktail.

Gin and It Cocktail

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1½ ounces dry gin
  • Cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add the vermouth and gin. Stir.
  2. Garnish with the cherry.

14. Il Cardinale (The Cardinal)

Gin, dry vermouth, and Campari make up this dry, bitter, and aromatic cocktail. The cocktail was created in Rome in the mid-20th century and remains an Italian favorite.

Il Cardinale cocktail

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • ½ ounce Campari
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 ounces dry gin
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Fill a rocks glass with ice.
  2. Add the Campari, vermouth, and gin. Stir.
  3. Garnish with the lemon twist.

15. Sgroppino al Limone

If you like icy citrus flavor balanced with sweet, then chances are you'll love the sgroppino al limone. It's a lovely combination of lemon sorbetto, Prosecco, and vodka - the perfect balance of sweet, acidic, and strong to finish a meal. Make this in a batch (the recipe serves four), freeze for a few hours, and drink your dessert Italian style.

Sgroppino cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lemon sorbetto
  • 1 cup dry Prosecco
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • Mint leaves for garnish

Instructions

  1. Whisk the sorbetto in a bowl to soften. Add the Prosecco and vodka and whisk until smooth.
  2. Freeze for two hours.
  3. Pour into 4 highball glasses and garnish with mint leaves.

Enjoy Classic Italian Cocktails

Classic Italian cocktails bring traditional flavors of Italy - citrus, mint, bittersweet Campari and Aperol, and of course, Prosecco. Try these tasty Italian classics for a flavorful taste of Italy.

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15 Classic Italian Cocktails That Made History