When Brian and I first visited Italy, we naturally sampled every delicacy and delight we could find. In a dockside bar in Bari, we asked for our first sample of Compari. It was, to be carefully truthful, an experience. My husband, Mr. Sweetness, looked as if cardiac arrest were imminent. The look of surprise was capitalized by the pursed lips. They call Compari bitter. It is.
Last night, at the home of Italian friends our gracious host asked us if we wanted an Aperol aperitif. With Compari memories still decades old, we both said, “No.” Wiser than us, he returned with two glasses radiant with orange liquid.
“You’ll like,” he insisted. He was right.
Created in 1919 in the Veneto, Aperol is distinguished by many things. Its marvelous orange color. A bitter but also thankfully sweet flavor from one of those still secret recipes: herbs and roots galore. And, interestingly, a very low alcohol content of only 11%. The original firm was purchased by the holding company that owns Campari. The firm’s spectrum of flavors could not be wider.
The Aperol website is replete with many recipes using their complex flavor. Last night, we enjoyed simplicity and sweetness. Start with this first taste, then expand your Aperol horizon.
Our host last night was celebrating birthday number 71. He follows the recipe below, then tops it off with a dash of vodka. If you want to look superb past 70, then a splash or dash should be forthcoming.
Aperol + Prosecco Cocktail
Fill a cocktail glass with ice. In the remaining volume, half fill with Aperol, and half with Prosecco [or other sweet sparkling gem like Cava]. Add a wedge of lemon or lime or orange for garnish. Sip at your leisure.
For a Sunday brunch, particularly an Easter Sunday, here’s a snappy adaptation of the classic Bellini. The peaches are still here, but champagne is replaced by sweeter Proseco. There’s some peach liquor and blood orange juice. It’s part Mimosa, part Bellini, and it’s wonderful.
The genius of this recipe comes from 101 Blender Drinks, Kim Haasarud’s latest collection of wonders.
You can certainly experiment here. The peach or peach puree can be substituted by plum or apricot. The amount of peach liquor can be increased to “stiffen” the drink, or an alternative such as apricot liquor can be used. Your experimentation here is certain to generate an equally attractive beverage.
Blood Peach Bellini
Yield: 2 servings
- 2 ounces peach puree (or 1 ripe peach, blanched, peel, and cut into chunks)
- 2 ounces Proseco
- 1 ½ ounces blood orange juice
- ½ ounce peach liquor
- 2 lemon twists, for garnish
Combine all the ingredients in a blender with 5 or 6 ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Pour into two champagne flutes and garnish each with a lemon twist.
Source: 101 Blender Drinks by Kim Hassarud