Pretty Little Cocktails

When it comes to living la dolce vita, the Italians have some of the best ideas. case in point: the aperitivo, a pre-dinner drink, usually not too alcoholic, meant to ease the transition from day to night, and often consumed alongside snacks at the bar.


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Livestock Tavern’s Fra-GEE-leh mixes brandy, Cocchi Americano, parsnip syrup and Prosseco (photo courtesy Livestock Tavern).

One of the most popular—and best—iterations of the Aperitivo is the spritz. and while it comes in many iterations (i.e. the Aperol spritz, the Americano), it’s often bittersweet and usually low in alcohol, but the only hard fast rule of the spritz is it must always be bubbly. Those bubbles, however, can span the range from sparkling wine to soda to seltzer—the important part is the carbonation.

And it’s the carbonation factor that marks the category a winning choice for entertaining year-round. During the holidays, bubbles make for a celebratory toast. But come warmer months, the bubbles make for a super refreshing pre-dinner (or all through the day and night) choice.

Terrific versions of the spritz can be found on the best drinks menus on O‘ahu. Noe, the top tier restaurant at the new Four Seasons Ko Olina, makes two spritzes: a light and refreshing take made from Aperol, sous vide summer strawberries, Cocchi Americano, Rosato Basil Tincture and Prosecco, as well as a bolder spritz, the rome with a view— made with Campari, Cocchi Americano, Sous Vide Raspberries and Prosseco. At Tchin Tchin!, the classic Americano gets a luxury makeover with Carpano Antica Vermouth and Mezzodi liqueur before being topped offwith soda water. livestock tavern gets in the game with a fra-geeleh, a mix of brandy, Cocchi Americano, parsnip syrup and Prosecco.

If you’re looking to try your own hand at home, you’re in luck—it’s one of the easiest and most forgiving drinks. most are built in the glass, meaning you don’t have to get out an extra mixing glass. and because you’re adding a bubbly component, there’s some give on getting the exact measurements right—who is going to complain about an extra pour of sparkling wine? (one caveat: these don’t make the best choices for batching up in pitchers—better to make each one individually to get the sunrise effect of the base liqueur and bubbly component.)

Take a cue from high-end restaurants and play up the base ingredients to make something extra special. specialty ver-mouths such as Cocchi Americano and Carpano Antica tend to get a lot bartender attention. if you’re an amaro fan, play around with some of the fresh new american Amaros, such as Leopold brother’s Aperitivo and st. George spirit’s Bruto Americano, or go to one of the more obscure Italian choices, such as Averna or Meletti.

Don’t be afraid to add fresh juices, too. a shot of sweet ka‘u orange juice or liliko‘i syrup in an Americano makes for colorful island-style twist.

If you’re hooked, consider picking up spritz: Italy’s most iconic Aperitivo cocktail, with recipes, by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, which covers the history of the drink and has some novel ideas for variations to try.

Here are two recipes to get you started: one classic, the Aperol Spritz, and a bubbly take on a familiar face, the Negroni.


Here’s a template for the most well-known of all the spritz variations, the Aperol spritz. Aperol is milder than most of its amaro counterparts, making this an ideal crowd-pleaser.

3 oz. Prosecco
2 oz. Aperol
1 oz. soda water
garnish: orange or lemon wheel
glassware: rocks or highball

In a rocks glass or highball glass, mix the Prosecco and Aperol. add ice, then top with soda water and garnish with an orange wheel.


The word sbagliato, appended here to the name of a classic cocktail, translates to “incorrect” or “mistaken.” not so. with Prosecco in the place of the Negroni’s traditional gin, this Spritzy beverage makes use of a buoyantly bitter Italian Aperitivo.

1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Prosecco (or any dry sparkling wine)
Garnish: orange peel
Glassware: rocks or lowball

In a rocks or lowball glass, add Campari, sweet vermouth and ice. top with Prosecco or sparkling wine and stir gently to combine. garnish with an orange peel.

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