Italy is well-known for its delectable dishes and incredible wines, but many people tend to forget that it’s also home to some classic cocktails.
So, whether you're a cocktail connoisseur or a complete newbie, we're sure you'll find something you'll love in our list of 10 classic Italian cocktails, from aperitif cocktails to a stronger tipple, there's something for every type of drinker!
Created by Count Camillo at Caffè Casoni in 1919, the bittersweet Negroni is now one of the most popular Italian cocktails! Inspired by his recent trips to London, Count Camillo quickly concluded that his regular drink, the Americano, just wasn’t strong enough. So, he asked the barman to swap the soda water with a splash of gin instead. Thus the Negroni was born!
This dry, bittersweet cocktail combines Gin, Campari, Vermouth and Angostura Aromatic Bitter, creating the perfectly balanced cocktail. And the ultimate aperitif. Although, according to Italians, Negroni cocktails are appropriate to drink any time of day, so who are we to argue?
The Milano-Torino is a truly classic Italian cocktail that’s light in body but full in flavour. First served in a Milan cafe in 1860 by Gaspare Campari, this cocktail combines Campari and sweet Vermouth for its bittersweet taste and is a popular aperitif. With its distinctive charm, the Milano-Torino was an instant hit, especially amongst those with an aristocratic air about them!
By the 20th century the cocktail had reached America, where it was so popular they added a dash of soda water and renamed it the Americano. Milano-Torino also inspired the delightful Negroni which included gin too. This simple, fizzy cocktail is the original Italian spritz and is perfect for any occasion.
One of the most refreshing cocktails ever made, the Hugo, is perfect to sip anytime to keep you cool on a hot day. Deliciously simple, the Hugo combines the subtle flavours of Prosecco, Elderflower Syrup, soda water and mint leaves. Poured over ice and with a slice of lime, Hugo is the ultimate Italian summer cocktail and is very similar to our signature Garden of Russia cocktail.
The Hugo was created in 2005 by Roland Gruber in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of north Italy. Despite only being 15 years old it's a huge hit all over Europe, especially in Germany where over 400 Hugo cocktails are served a night!
A cocktail made for breakfast? We’re definitely on board with that! Bellini’s are an Italian favourite with it’s delightfully light and fruity taste.
Created in Venice by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1948, he spent many years trying to figure out how to incorporate his favourite fruit, peaches, into a drink. The refreshing Bellini cocktail was born when he hand-squeezed peaches and combined the juice with sparkling wine. Simple yet delicious. Cipriana named the cocktail after Giovanni Bellini because the colour of the drink reminded him of Bellini’s famous paintings.
As the Bellini is so loved by many across the world, various spin offs were also created, including the Rossini. This is a popular cocktail all year round but lots of people especially enjoy it as a special treat over the Christmas period.
Invented in Italy the Rossini cocktail was named after the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini. Rather than peach purée, this cocktail combines Prosecco and puréed strawberries for a sweet and slightly sour fruity taste. The Rossini is a perfect Italian brunch cocktail. It also makes an excellent dessert cocktail too as strawberries pair fantastically with chocolate.
A wonderful mix of light and bitter, the Pirlo cocktail is a favourite among many Italians. Pirlo was invented in Brescia and is extremely similar to the Aperol Spritz. In fact, there was quite a heated debate between Brescia and Venice over who invented the cocktail first!
Using white wine, Campari or Aperol and sparkling water the Pirlo is a refreshing cocktail that can be seen in the hands of many Brescia locals on the beach. It's also ideal as an aperitif. While some may believe that the cocktail was named after a footballer with the same name, the term 'pirlo' actually means fall or to turn over. Which, in this case, is the Campari or Aperol falling gently in a circular motion into the white wine.
7. Angelo Azzurro
The beautiful sky blue Angelo Azzuro is a lesser-known drink these days but still a classic Italian cocktail. Not much is known about the origins of the cocktail, apart from that it was created in Italy to reflect gorgeous blue waters that surround the country.
Angelo Azzuro peaked in popularity in the 1990s as many club and bar-goers were drawn to its unusual colour. It's now almost exclusive to Italy! Featuring Gin, Triple Sec and Blue Curaçao all shaken into a martini glass, this cocktail isn't one for a lightweight drinker and is probably best to have after dinner.
8. The Godfather
The Godfather took the world by storm in the 70s after doing what no other cocktail had done... combining two alcoholic drinks together without a mixer. With a brave mix of Scotch Whisky and Amaretto, The Godfather is a drink to be sipped slowly, to both savour every mouthful and not spend the rest of the evening on the floor.
The origin of The Godfather is somewhat unknown, but the most popular theory is that it was created and named after Francis Ford Coppolla's legendary film, The Godfather, which was written by Italian author Mario Puzo. Disarono has also claimed that The Godfather was Marlon Brando's favourite drink. Nobody knows if this is actually true or not but it makes an interesting story so we'll take it!
Named after one of Italy's 'fathers of the fatherland', the Garibaldi is an iconic Italian cocktail. Featuring Italy's signature liqueur, Campari, orange juice and half a slice of orange, the Garibaldi is a refreshingly fruity cocktail that's perfect for sipping on a warm summer's eve.
The Garibaldi was invented in Novara to signify the unification of north and south of Italy in the 19th century. Using Campari from the north and oranges from the south, Garibaldi is a very symbolic and popular cocktail amongst Italians. There are several variations of this drink which also includes rum or soda water if you don't have any orange juice nearby.
10. Aperol Spritz o Spritz Veneziano
Whenever anyone mentions classic Italian cocktails, the Aperol Spritz is usually the first one that comes to mind. Perfect for those hot summer months, sitting outside and socialising with friends with a cool drink in hand, the Aperol Spritz is sweet, vibrant and refreshing.
Aperol first entered the scene in the early 1900s when two brothers inherited their father’s liquor company. After many years of experimenting, they created the Aperol spirit that we all know and love today. As the brand grew increasingly popular in the 20th century, the official recipe of the Aperol Spritz was created in the 50s. Featuring Prosecco, Aperol, soda water and an orange twist, this fruity cocktail has been an Italian favourite for decades!
At NIO Cocktails we offer expertly crafted, high-quality cocktails that you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Build your own box of cocktails or choose one of our perfectly curated cocktail boxes.