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6 Classic Italian Cocktails to Make at Home When You’re Craving Italy

By Ashley Goldsmith and Lyndsey Matthews

May 13, 2020

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Not a bartender? Don’t worry, the Negroni only requires stirring three ingredients together.

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Not a bartender? Don’t worry, the Negroni only requires stirring three ingredients together.

Plus, bar recommendations in Italy to bookmark for later.

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There’s more to the Italian cocktail repertoire than the Bellinis and after-dinner amari that visitors frequently order while traveling through Italy. While Campari and sparkling wine are frequently found in ingredient lists on cocktail menus across the country, there’s also plenty of gin, whiskey, and tequila for everyone’s taste. Here are six recipes for classic Italian drinks, prosecco-topped aperitifs, and new-to-you cocktails to make at home right now. And since we’ll all travel again one day, we’ve also included bar recommendations to try these concoctions during your next trip to Italy. 

Negroni

Where to drink it in Italy: The Jerry Thomas Project in Rome

One of Italy’s most iconic drinks, the Negroni has been around for more than 100 years. The story goes that in 1919, Count Camillo Negroni asked a bartender at Caffè Casoni in Florence to make a stronger version of an Americano cocktail by swapping the soda water for gin. It’s a strong drink but simple to make at home because its three ingredients—Campari, gin, and red vermouth—are measured out in equal parts.

Though the drink is commonplace throughout Italy, for a special experience order it at Rome’s Jerry Thomas Project, a speakeasy ranked in the World’s 50 Best Bars list. For a variation on the classic, order the Spiced Negroni at Caffè Florian in Venice that includes all of the essential elements of a Negroni—Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth—with the addition of a spicy herbal tea. 

(Makes 1 Cocktail)
Based on recipe from Campari

Ingredients
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce gin
1 ounce red vermouth
Orange slice to garnish

Buy Now: Campari, $27, wine.com; Carpano Antica Red Vermouth, $40, wine.com

Make It
Stir Campari, gin, and red vermouth together and pour into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with orange slice.

Americano

Where to drink it in Italy: Camparino in Milan

The base of the drink is an Italian cocktail called the Milano-Torino that was created in the mid-1800s at Caffè Camparino in Milan. American tourists began to order the drink with a splash of soda water on top, bartenders dubbed the version the Americano, and the rest is history. Caffè Camparino was renovated and reopened as Camparino, but you can still order this classic cocktail there. 

(Makes 1 Cocktail)
Based on a recipe from Campari

Ingredients
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce red vermouth
1 splash soda water
Orange slice or lemon peel to garnish

Make It
Pour the ingredients directly in an old-fashioned glass. Fill with ice cubes and add a splash of soda water. Garnish with orange slice or lemon peel.

Brooklyn Reloaded

Where to drink it in Italy: Dry in Milan

The Brooklyn Reloaded is full of Italian ingredients (Amaro Lucano, maraschino, and the citrusy Italian aperitif Cocchi Americano Bianco) save for the drink’s main ingredient, Bulleit rye whiskey. Stir it yourself at home now, and when we can travel again, drink it at Milan’s Dry, which combines two of our favorite things: pizza and cocktails, both specialty and classic.

(Makes 1 Cocktail)
Based on a recipe from Amaro Lucano

Ingredients
0.25 ounce (7.5 ml) Amaro Lucano Anniversario 
1.5 ounces (45 ml) Bulleit rye whiskey
0.5 ounce (15 ml) Cocchi Americano Bianco
0.17 ounce (5 ml) Luxardo Maraschino
Slice of caramelized orange

Buy Now: Amaro Lucano Anniversario, $31, wine.com; Cocchi Americano Bianco, $21, winechateau.com; Luxardo Maraschino, $37, astorwines.com

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Make It
Cut a thin slice from an orange, sprinkle it with sugar, and caramelize it with a kitchen torch. (No blow torch? Quarantine rules say it's okay to skip this step.) Place the orange slice in a mixing glass and pour all the ingredients over it and gently muddle the orange. Add an ice cube and stir. Pour into a new glass and add a new ice cube.

The Aperol Spritz is nearly as ubiquitous in Italy as a Negroni these days.

Aperol Spritz

Where to drink it in Italy: Freni e Frizioni in Rome

Invented in 1919 in Padova, the bitter orange aperitivo Aperol has been popular in Italy for some time, but it didn’t catch on in the United States until recently. Its low alchohol content (11 percent) makes it the ideal liquor for an afternoon spritz. You can find Aperol Spritz—a mix of Aperol, prosecco, and soda—on pretty much any menu in Italy, but Rome’s Freni e Frizioni, housed in a former mechanic’s shop on a small piazza, is a fine place to sip cocktails and people watch. 

(Makes 1 Cocktail)
Based on a recipe from Aperol

Ingredients
2 ounces prosecco
2 ounces Aperol
1 splash soda water
Orange slice to garnish

Buy Now: Aperol, $20, wine.com; Mionetto Prosecco, $14, wine.com

Make It
Add ice to large stemmed glass and pour in the prosecco and Aperol in equal parts. Add a splash of soda water and garnish with an orange slice.

Sgroppino

Where to drink it in Italy: Taverna San Trovaso in Venice

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The Sgroppino is likely Venice’s most popular drink. This digestif is a mixture of lemon sorbet, vodka, and prosecco and can be found all over the city. Taverna San Trovaso is arguably the place to order a sgroppino following a meal. The seafood-heavy plates here are perfectly complimented by this refreshing after-dinner drink that offers a lighter alternative to the standard Sambuca or Fernet Branca. 

(Makes 1 Cocktail)
Based on a recipe from liquor.com

Ingredients
1 scoop lemon sorbet
2 ounces prosecco
1 tablespoon vodka

Make It
Add all ingredients to medium bowl and whisk until frothy. Pour into glass for white wine.

Buona Vita

Where to drink it in Italy: Bar Longhi at the Gritti Palace in Venice

Bar Longhi offers views of the Grand Canal and was a hangout spot for Hemingway, so you could say it’s a popular watering hole in Venice. But the ornate decor and impressive cocktail list offer more than a kitsch experience. The Buona Vita cocktail is a refreshing mix of gin, Campari, and grapefruit, making it the perfect place to grab a drink and imagine you’re brushing elbows with the literary elite. 

(Makes 1 Cocktail)
Based on a recipe from Moletto Gin

Ingredients
1 ounce gin
0.5 ounce Campari
2 ounces grapefruit juice
Orange peel to garnish

Make It
Add ice and all the ingredients to a shaker. Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange peel.

This article originally appeared online in October 2016; it was updated on May 13, 2020, to include current information. Products we write about are independently vetted and recommended by our editors. We may earn a commission if you buy through our links.

>> Next: Cocktails From Around the World to Make at Home

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