These Italian cocktails are perfect for an at-home aperitivo.

By Elizabeth Rhodes
Updated October 28, 2020
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Whether you’re wandering the picturesque canals of Venice or touring historic Florence, no day in Italy is complete without an aperitivo. The pre-dinner aperitivo is an Italian tradition, which includes an early evening snack paired with a glass of wine, beer, or a cocktail. It might be a while before we’re sipping spritzes in a Roman piazza, but until we can travel again, we’ve got the next best thing: recipes for a few of the most iconic Italian cocktails.

Campari and Aperol are among the most common apéritifs in Italy, serving as main ingredients in classic Italian cocktails like the Aperol Spritz and Negroni. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites, so you can bring Italy home, one delicious sip at a time. Go a step further and recreate a traditional Italian aperitivo at home with one of these cocktails and snacks like olives, cured meats, and focaccia. Finish your meal with some homemade limoncello — this Italian lemon liqueur is often served after dinner in southern Italy.

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1. Aperol Spritz

The Aperol Spritz is a classic Italian cocktail that’s gained popularity stateside in recent years. Perfect for summer evenings, this drink is sweet, refreshing, and easy to make, with just three ingredients needed.

Aperol Spritz Recipe: In a glass full of ice, combine prosecco followed by Aperol in equal parts. Add a splash of soda and garnish with an orange slice.

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2. Bellini

Although sometimes overlooked for mimosas when it comes to sweet brunch cocktails, Bellinis are refreshing and delicious. Originally created in Venice, this cocktail combines prosecco with peach nectar or puree for a delightfully fruity drink.

Bellini Recipe: Pour two parts prosecco and one part peach puree in a glass, then garnish with a peach slice.

3. Rossini

If you like Bellinis, you’ll probably love Rossinis, too. This sparkling cocktail combines prosecco and strawberries for a fresh take on the classic Bellini.

Rossini Recipe: Pour two parts prosecco and one part strawberry puree in a Champagne flute, and garnish with a strawberry.

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4. Negroni

Ever since Stanley Tucci showed us how he makes Negronis at home in a video posted to Instagram, this concoction has been popping up everywhere. It’s a beloved classic cocktail for a reason — balanced and bittersweet, it makes for the perfect pre-dinner drink.

Negroni Recipe: Pour one part Campari, one part 1757 Vermouth di Torino Rosso, and one part Bulldog Gin over ice in a glass. Stir for 15 seconds. Garnish with an orange peel or slice.

5. Boulevardier

Known as the Negroni's cousin, this cocktail combines American bourbon with Italian Campari and vermouth under a French name — perhaps not a traditionally Italian cocktail, but it's delicious nonetheless.

Boulevardier Recipe: Combine equal parts Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon, 1757 Vermouth di Torino, and Campari in a glass, stir until combined, and pour over a large ice cube to serve.

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5. Campari Soda

A simple Campari soda is the perfect way to enjoy the bitterness of Campari without any other flavors. Plus, with just two ingredients, this is a super-simple Italian cocktail.

Campari Soda Recipe: Mix two parts Campari and one part soda water. Stir and pour over ice. Garnish with an orange slice.

6. Garibaldi 

If you thought we were done with Campari cocktails, think again. This cocktail mixes the Italian aperitif with orange juice for a sweeter drink. Take it up a notch by using freshly squeezed orange juice.

Garibaldi Recipe: Mix equal parts Campari and orange juice, and pour over ice. Garnish with an orange slice.

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8. Americano 

First served in the 1860s, this cocktail has a long and storied history. Make it for yourself at home with Campari, vermouth, and soda water.

Americano Recipe: Pour one part Campari, one part 1757 Vermouth di Torino Rosso, and a splash of soda water in a glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with a lemon peel.

9. Averna Limonata

A traditional Sicilian amaro, Averna was created in 1868. For those unfamiliar, it's bittersweet and herbal, with licorice and orange notes, and you can drink it on its own after dinner or mix it into a cocktail like the Averna Limonata.

Averna Limonata Recipe: Combine two parts Averna with one part fresh lemon juice and 0.5 part simple syrup over crushed ice. Top with soda water and garnish with seasonal herbs like mint, rosemary, or sage to bring out the liqueur's herbal notes.

10. Negroni Bianco

Another take on the classic Negroni, this Negroni Bianco created by Wayne Collins uses the clear Luxardo Bitter Bianco in place of Campari and a Bianco vermouth.

Negroni Bianco Recipe: Pour equal parts Oxley Gin, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, and Martini & Rossi Bianco Vermouth in a rocks glass filled with ice, and stir.