How I Aperitivo: Fabio Raffaelli

Oct 22, 2021Story: MARTINI & ROSSI® Art: Anthony Rayburn

When a food critic reviewing a four-star restaurant deems the cocktail program “the most memorable” part of the experience, the bar is doing something special. Such was the verdict of Eater’s Ryan Sutton upon visiting one of New York’s seminal Italian dining destinations, where Fabio Raffaelli built the bar program from scratch with a unique-at-the-time focus on international spirits. As it was Raffaelli’s first gig in the States, the accolade becomes even more impressive.

Hailing from a town about an hour outside of Milan, Raffaelli was entrenched in the rich culture of Italian food and drink from an early age. After stints at a number of Europe’s most well-regarded culinary destinations, working with the likes of Ferran Adrià, Gordon Ramsay and Salvatore Calabrese, in America, he continued on to work with New York’s Daniel Boulud, creating the lauded tableside cocktail service at the chef’s most well-known restaurant.

Raffaelli’s experiences in these temples to hospitality helped hone the focus on service that defines his approach to drink-making, an ethos ingrained in him from childhood. “I remember when I was a kid, my mom pouring MARTINI Bianco with a slice of lemon every time we had guests at our house,” Raffaelli says. That simple but elevated hospitality rings through all of Raffaelli’s projects, including his current role as North American brand ambassador for MARTINI & ROSSI. “The House of MARTINI has long been an icon for me,” he says, describing his admiration for both the brand’s legacy in Italian drinking culture, and the way it continues to drive innovation globally.

One feature of the brand that is especially dear to Raffaelli’s heart is its iconic presence in the Italian aperitivo scene. Harking back to watching his mother serve vermouth before dinner, aperitivo hour is a favorite cultural moment for Raffaelli, and he loves sharing his joy for this category of drinks with those stateside now.

“I remember when I was a kid, my mom pouring MARTINI Bianco with a slice of lemon every time we had guests at our house."

Here, Raffaelli tackles our Aperitivo Lookbook Questionnaire to discuss his ideal aperitivo hour snack pairing, where in Italy he’s dreaming of visiting, and what he loves about the Italian approach to drinking.


Current occupation: North American brand ambassador for MARTINI & ROSSI

Hometown: Cassolnovo, Italy

Current location: Miami

How do you define the aperitivo? La gioia di vivere, a moment to relax and enjoy a drink with friends before dinner.

What do you most like about the Italian approach to drinking? The fact that all the drinks are very simple to make, and low-ABV.

How do you go about creating an aperitivo-style drink? Vermouth or a low-ABV Italian liqueur are mandatory to create a perfect aperitivo.

Tell us about your drink and why it’s a good aperitivo: My favorite aperitivo is the Americano—extremely pleasant, and perfect before dinner.

What’s your favorite aperitivo snack/pairing? I like to pair it with some prosciutto and bread, and some olives and parmesan.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making? I like to bike, watch movies and go to clubs.

If you could travel to one place in Italy right now, where would it be and why? I would love to go to Rome. It’s my favorite city—the food is outstanding.

If you had to pick only one: Negroni, Spritz or Americano? Americano.

Your favorite recipe featuring the MARTINI & ROSSI line: My favorite cocktail is the MARTINI & ROSSI Fiero Margarita, or Fierorita.

MARTINI & ROSSI® Fiero Margarita, aka Fierorita
1 1/2 ounces PATRÓN® Tequila
1 ounce MARTINI & ROSSI Fiero Vermouth
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce agave nectar

Shake and serve on the rocks with salt and lime wheel.

Why do you like this cocktail? What occasion(s) would you recommend serving it? This is the perfect cocktail for tequila lovers, and it can be enjoyed on every occasion.


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