How I Aperitivo: Ruby Wilson

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

For Ruby Wilson, the West Coast brand ambassador for MARTINI & ROSSI, working in hospitality was, at one point, simply a means to an end. Once on track for a career in dance, the California native pivoted after getting her first taste of travel abroad just after graduating from high school. That adventure “changed the course of my life,” she says. She scrapped her dance plans, instead attending junior college and working in restaurants with the goal of making enough money to travel, then adventuring for months at a time. In just three years, she saw 24 countries.

After all that journeying, she felt ready to settle down, choosing the culinary and cultural bastion of San Francisco as her home base. Going back to the hospitality industry was a natural choice, and she ended up at a well-regarded Italian institution in the Mission, where Eric Alperin had created the opening bar program. “He really taught us cocktails and Italian drinking, top to bottom,” Wilson says—and sparked her passion for Italian food and drink culture, including the diversity of the country’s regional products.

Wilson has been back to Italy since her youthful traveling days, but it is an encounter from her very first trip, in her early 20s, that she recalls as being particularly impactful. “I remember wandering into a bustling piazza in Rome around golden hour after a very long train ride from the south of France,” she says. Taking a cue from the surrounding tables, she and her travel companion ordered a round of Negronis; the drinks arrived accompanied by olives, chips and hunks of Parmesan. “I recall being confused, and then overjoyed to have something delicious to nosh on as we wove our plans for the evening,” she says. “I was sold on aperitivo hour from that point forward!”

"Always an Americano for me. It’s like Goldilocks and the three bears: a little bitter, a little sweet, a little bubbly and just right!"

Here, Wilson tackles our Aperitivo Lookbook Questionnaire to share her ideal aperitivo hour snack pairing, where in Italy she’s dreaming of visiting, and what she loves about the Italian approach to drinking.


Current occupation: West Coast brand ambassador for MARTINI & ROSSI

Hometown: Grass Valley, California

Current location: San Francisco

How do you define “aperitivo”? A time to gather with friends in the early evening, sip a bitter bubbly cocktail, snack on salty bites, and look forward to the night to come.

What do you most like about the Italian approach to drinking? I love that there is always food involved and that there is never a bad time for a quick drink.

How do you go about creating an aperitivo-style drink? The key to a great aperitivo cocktail is simplicity: something bitter, something sweet for balance, and I always love a nice bubble.

Tell us about your drink and why it’s a good aperitivo: The Bamboo cocktail has an uncertain history, like many classic cocktails. It was possibly named after a song, “Under the Bamboo Tree,” or it may have been created by Louis Eppinger, a German bartender at the Grand Hotel in Yokohama, Japan. One thing we know for sure is that it was created in the late 1890s, not long after MARTINI & ROSSI was founded in 1863. The combination of nutty sherry and herbaceous vermouth pairs perfectly with salty nuts or aged Parmesan cheese, making it the perfect drink for aperitivo hour.

What’s your favorite aperitivo snack/pairing? I am a sucker for potato chips and anchovies. The saltiness keeps you going back for more of your cocktail.

Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted: I try and stick with riffs on classics. They are classic for a reason.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making? I love to travel—the planning, the research, and finally landing in a new or familiar place, is what makes my heart sing. Once I get there, it’s right back to eating and drinking, because what’s actually better than that?

If you could travel to one place in Italy right now, where would it be and why? Sicily! The beaches and the seafood alone make it a must-visit. No trip to Italy is complete without a stop in Rome, though.

If you had to pick only one: Negroni, spritz or Americano? Always an Americano for me. It’s like Goldilocks and the three bears: a little bitter, a little sweet, a little bubbly and just right! An Americano is also low-proof, so it’s easy to enjoy more than one.

Your favorite recipe featuring the MARTINI & ROSSI line: My favorite cocktail with Martini & Rossi must be a Bamboo cocktail with MARTINI & ROSSI Extra Dry, Riserva Speciale Ambrato Vermouth and amontillado sherry, garnished with a Castelvetrano olive and a lemon twist.

1 part MARTINI & ROSSI® Extra Dry vermouth
1 part Martini & Rossi Riserva Speciale Ambrato vermouth
1 part amontillado sherry

Pour over ice, stir until well-chilled, and serve up with a Castelvetrano olive and a lemon twist.

Why do you like this cocktail? On what occasion(s) would you recommend serving it? I love a Bamboo cocktail for so many reasons: It’s sophisticated, classic, light and delicate. The nuttiness of the sherry highlights the Roman chamomile in the MARTINI & ROSSI Ambrato vermouth, and the briny olive is the perfect complement to any aperitivo cocktail. This is an ideal cocktail before dinner as an aperitivo, or as an after-dinner nightcap.


Celebrate Negroni Month with our Classic Negroni kit