Italian spirits are in the air for Valentine’s Day and Italian mixologists are creating aperitivi and cocktails that are sure to lead you to an evening of enchantment and romance. Here are a few of our favorites including the Red Passion of Campari, an Italian bitter flavored with a secret mixture of 68 aromatic herbs, spices and wood bark blended with spirits in alchemic proportions. It is Italy’s most well-know aperitivo.
Classic Mixes– The Negroni made with gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth and all its various permutations including the Americano, which lacks the gin but adds club soda and the Sbagliato where gin is replaced with sparkling wine or prosecco. And then there’s the Venetian Spritz “sprettz“. Favored in Venice but equally as popular in many Italian towns especially in the north. A light cocktail (7 or 8 percent alcohol by volume) often made with Aperol like this version.
Fill a highball glass with 3- 4 Ice Cubes
Pour in 2 to 3 ounces Prosecco or any sparkling wine
Add 1 1/2 ounces Aperol
Then a splash of soda water, sparkling water, mineral water, or Club Soda
Garnish with a wheel of lime or a wedge of orange. Makes 1 serving.
New and Innovative Combinations – The Cherry Americano from New York mixologist Albert Trummer of Apothéke. The Truffle Honey Cocktail, luscious and decadent made with i Peccati di Ciacco Black Summer Truffle honey perfect with Italian Black Summer Truffle Honey Pizza.
L’ammazzavampiri (garlic canapé) is proported to be so heavy on the garlic that it takes its name from the Italian verb ammazzare meaning “to intentionally put to death” hence the name ammazzavampiri ” vampire killer”.
A traditional bruschetta ammazzavampiri begins with slices of pane casereccio , a durum wheat bread from the town of Genzano in Lazio. Outside of Italy any firm, country-style bread sliced about ½ inch thick will do although few will have the chewy, elastic crumb of this pane. Grill, toast or broil the bread until is a deep golden brown. A classic ammazzavampiri has an extraordinary amount of whole peeled garlic cloves rubbed over the warm bread. Then it is sprinkled with coarse sea salt and generously drizzled with the season’s freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil.
Serve with an Amazza Vampiri cocktail apertivo to entertain your ghoulish guests this Halloween.
Around 6 or 7 o’clock, as stores and offices close, Italians find their way to the many cafes and bars throughout Italy that serve apertivo, a pre-dinner drink designed to stimulate the appetite with bittersweet flavors and aromatic herbs. Unlike the American cocktail hour where there are as many permutations of the classic Martini as there are configurations of Rubik’s cube, the Italian aperitivo is meant to open your taste buds rather than anesthetize them. In Italy apertivi are usually accompanied by complimentary appetizers. These small bites, served as a buffet, often include a selection of olives, various chips and nuts, tiny meatballs, cured meats, cheeses, pizzette, marinated vegetables, foccacia and traditional snacks of the region. Yes I did say complimentary and yes is it OK to help yourself and go back for more. You can nibble and nip on stuzzichini at the apertivo bars of Milano or cicchetti on an Italian pub crawl through Venice. The custom of apertivo is a perfect opportunity to taste a variety of regional foods in a casual atmosphere and experience the Italian lifestyle.
An Aperol spritz makes a light and refreshing Carnevale Cocktail. Mix 2 parts of Aperol with 3 parts of chilled Prosecco. Add a splash of chilled seltzer or mineral water and garnish with a lemon twist or slice of orange.
Similar to Campari, Northern Italy’s iconic apertivo, Aperol is slightly sweeter and has a lower alcohol content. Serve this drink in a champagne flute, hide behind your mask and indulge in the masquerade of Carnevale in Venice.