Cin cin! For today’s World Cocktail Week spirit, we’ll be focusing on the oft neglected Italian digestifs and liqueurs. Get those bottles out from the back of your cupboard and pour yourself una bevanda as you learn the delightful history as well as mixing suggestions for these Italian classics.
Most Popular Italian Liqueurs
Following World War II, Italian culture and cuisine became sought after worldwide. The boom in popularity caused liqueurs that were once considered low class to become increasingly trendy. Liqueurs play an important part in Italian meals. When served before a meal, they as appetite stimulants that are low in alcohol and sugar. Afterwards, they are served to aid in digestion. Typically, they are higher in alcohol percentage and sweetness, acting as drinkable dessert to finish off a large meal. Here’s a quick breakdown of the most popular Italian liqueurs.
This fragrant liqueur gets its name from the Italian word for “bitter,” and is made from infusing a base alcohol with a blend of herbs, spices, and flowers. It dates back to ancient Rome, when nobles used it for its restorative properties after their gluttonous escapades. By the 1800’s, Italian pharmacies touted amaro as a cure for overeating, a reputation it upholds even today! Amaro is an umbrella category for well known spirits like Nonino, Aperol, and Fernet Branca.
Like amaro, amaretto translates to “little bitter” in Italian. The liqueur is made of almonds, peach stones, or apricot, rendering it sweet with bitter undertones. Delicious as an after dinner digestif, it is also a common ingredient in Italian cookies and cakes.
Limoncello is easily the most iconic of Italian liqueurs. Made by fermenting lemon zest, sugar, and water in alcohol (usually vodka or grappa), this spirit is best served ice cold. In fact, it is frequently served in frozen shot glasses to make it as refreshing as possible! Though its initial origins are hazy, journalists claim that it is likely to have been invented within the last 100 years.
Initially considered a lower class drink, Grappa is made from the leftover grape skins, pips, and stalks that have already been pressed to make wine. The name derives from the Latin word “grappapolis,” which translates to “bunch of grapes.” Likened to a brandy, it is an excellent after dinner digestif.
Delicious Italian Liqueur Cocktails
Now that we’ve broken down some of the most popular Italian liqueurs, let’s dive into some of our favourite cocktails!
It is rumoured that the Amaretto Sour was invented during the height of Italian cuisine’s popularity in North America. This delightfully flavourful cocktail features amaretto, lemon juice, and sugar, perfectly blending bitter, sour, and sweet flavours together.
Limoncello is often referred to as sunshine in a glass, and you’ll know why when sipping on a sparkling limoncello cocktail! Requiring only limoncello, lemon soda, and prosecco and garnished with fresh mint leaves, this tart concoction will leave you dreaming of the Southern Italian coast!
Our Favourite Italian Liqueur Cocktail
You didn’t think we could make it all the way through World Cocktail Week without mentioning the iconic Aperol Spritz, did you? A patio staple worldwide, this classic recipe relies on ratio pours, so feel free to adjust it as you feel!
Here’s our recipe for a classic Aperol Spritz, it’s as easy as 1-2-3!
3 parts prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 part soda water
- Put ice cubes in a large wine glass.
- Pour in your prosecco.
- Pour in your Aperol.
- Pour in your soda water
- Garnish with a slice of orange
- Take a sip!
Thirsty for more liqueurs? Check out our entire collection here!