Part of the aperitivo’s universal appeal—the reason it has traveled from northern Italy’s mountain towns and cosmopolitan cities—is its laissez-faire attitude, its pure devotion to slowing down to the pace of lifting a drink and placing it back down again. As Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau write in their book Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, the Italian concept of sprezzatura doesn’t have an English translation, but has a connotation that’s equal parts “the art of concealing art’s design” and an “‘I-woke-up-like-this’ mix of beauty and ease.” This aura is the embodiment of aperitivo, and all the cocktails it encompasses.
“If you have four bottles, you have the entire repertoire of aperitivo,” says Fabio Raffaelli, the North American brand ambassador for MARTINI & ROSSI®. First, a red bitter liqueur and an aromatized wine, such as MARTINI & ROSSI Bitter Liqueur and their Rubino or Ambrato Vermouth di Torino; then a bottle of high-quality gin (Raffaelli prefers BOMBAY SAPPHIRE®); and last, a good Italian sparkling wine, like MARTINI & ROSSI Prosecco, Asti or even the sparkling rosé. “With these you can make the Negroni, the Americano, the Vermuttino and all the others,” he says.
Combine equal parts MARTINI & ROSSI Bitter Liqueur, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® gin and rich, smooth Rubino Vermouth di Torino for the classic Negroni serve. Switch the Sbagliato’s sparkling wine for seltzer, and you have the tall, refreshing Americano. For something simpler, consider the Vermuttino, simply a dose of spiced, golden-hued Ambrato Vermouth di Torino swirled with soda water, and garnished with caper berries or a slice of lime.