The Really Big Guide to Drinks in Italy and Famous Italian Cocktails
This Really Big Guide to Italian Drinks and Famous Italian Cocktails (with recipes) is the perfect primer for discovering Italy’s traditional drinks, from wine, beer, and bubbly to spirits, amaro, and liqueurs!
Salute, it’s time for some drinks, Italian-style!
Home to incredible food, excellent wine, stunning architecture, and old-world warmth and charm, Italy may be the most popular bucket list destinations in the world.
And while it’s true that Italy’s culinary delights are among its best assets, what often gets overlooked is the vast array of specialty drinks in Italy that are just as exquisite, and we’re not just talking about wine.
In this post, we’ll explore not just the elegant wines to savor in Italy, but also craft beer, and the unique liqueurs and amaro spirits produced by Italians. And if you’re planning on bringing back edible or drinkable souvenirs for you or family and friends, the liqueurs listed here make great gifts from Italy.
Bonus — there are also 11 classic cocktails in Italy you should try and we’ve included detailed recipes here so you can easily make them at home!
What’s in this Article? (Click to Jump Ahead)
Drinks in Italy: Tips to Know Before You Go
What Do Italians Drink?
Italian tradition says that a meal is more enjoyable with a perfectly paired beverage, but when it comes to selecting that beverage, it can be daunting with so much to choose.
The list of what Italians drink is endless, from aromatic coffee drinks to a broad selections of wine, or pre-dinner drinks for Aperitivo to late-night cocktails. Italy also produces some of the world’s most unique liqueurs and spirits so well-known you. may not even realize they were born in Italy — Vermouth, Campari, and Aperol to name a few.
We hope this list helps you in deciding what to drink in Italy, and introduces you to some new Italian cocktails and drinks in Italy that are a good match with your taste and style!
The Legal Age to Drink in Italy
If you're not 21 yet and want to get a drink without landing yourself in trouble, head to Italy. The country has no legal drinking age which means youngsters of all ages are legally permitted to consume alcohol.
It should be noted that those below the age of 16 are not allowed to buy or sell alcohol and most bars only serve minors if they are accompanied by an adult. However, since bars are a place for socializing and not consuming lots of alcohol in Italy, people of all ages are always welcome, including children.
Toasting in Italy
Whether it’s a birthday, a wedding, a reunion, or a simple Sunday brunch, it’s never the wrong time for a toast when in Italy!
“Salute”, which literally translates to “health” is one of the most common formal cheers you will hear in Italy. There are also various iterations of the word like “alla nostra salute,” which means “to our health” and “alla tua salute,” meaning “to your health.”
Another sentiment, “Cin Cin” (pronounced chin chin), comes from the Victorian-era Chinese expression of gratitude, “Chin’g Chin’g.” This informal phrase is the most widely used toast all over Italy and is followed by the clinking of glasses.
The phrase “fare un brindisi” is also popularly used to announce “a toast”. The collective for a group would be “facciamo un brindisi” or “let's drink a toast”!
And above all, look people in the eye when you offer up a toast, or they may become suspicious. This age-old superstition is just one of the fun facts about Italian food and wine you should know before you go!
Our comprehensive guide will teach you all there is to know about Italian drinks and the country’s famous cocktails. From what to drink in Italy and the best wine pairings, to when and how much to drink each variety.
Trust us. You'll be an expert on all the most famous drinks in Italy by the time we're through!
Drinks in Italy (Alcoholic): Wine
In vino veritas — In wine, there is truth! Whether it be with family or friends, wine remains an integral and social part of Italian culture. Italians enjoy a cup of wine with dinner, and more often than not, on its own with small foods to pick at like biscuits, cheese and bread. All 20 of Italy’s regions produce wine, and there’s no denying that many of these regions — Sicily, Tuscany, Lombardy, Veneto, Lazio, Piedmont — are world-renowned for excellent wines.
Amarone della Valpolicella comes from the northeastern region of Veneto and is considered one of Italy's most prestigious red wines. Made from the passito grape, this everyday drinking wine is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years and up to ten years in special cases.
Once aged, the red wine lets off aromas of cinnamon, black fig, carob, cherry liqueur, and plum sauce. Underneath these strong notes, there are hints of chocolate, green peppercorn, and, curiously, gravel dust. When aged for longer, the taste of brown sugar strengthens while other flavors like molasses and fig begin to emerge.
Dry and syrupy, Valpolicella classico pairs best with everyday foods like pizza, barbecued foods, risotto, beef short ribs, and roast chicken. Mature and robust tasting cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Vecchio, cimbro, and Monte Veronese ubriaco, as well as fruit pair well with both traditional and modern style Amarones.
The grapes used to make Chianti Classico come from all over Tuscany; right from Arezzo to Florence, Pisa to Pistoia, Prato to Siena. Known for its packaging in a fiasco, or straw basket, the Chianti Classico is made from a mix of different grapes, 80% of which are required to be Sangiovese.
Look for the round black and white rooster seal on the top of the bottle to ensure you’re drinking a Chianti Classico.
The standard Chianti Classico needs to be aged for 12 months before being released. The Riserva label, however, requires 24 long months of aging. With hints of tart cherries and violets, this wine is acidic and very dry.
A full-bodied wine, it pairs best with meaty Italian dishes featuring tomato sauce, such as spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, baked ziti, pizza, and bruschetta. Cheeses with nuanced flavors like a nutty, aged Parmigiano Reggiano or sharp cheddar go well with this wine on account of balancing out Chianti's fruit notes.
While Classico is the best known Chianti wine, don’t miss out on some excellent local wines crafted just outside the geographic boundary. The Chianti Colli Senese wines made nearby are unmissable!
Barolo is a red wine that originates from the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Made from Nebbiolo grapes, this wine must be aged for a minimum of 38 months of which 18 months should be in wooden barrels.
With a minimum of 13% alcohol, Barolo wine is similar to the Pinot noirs of Burgundy. Rose, tar, and dried herb aromas permeate this bright, acidic wine, and the tannins and acidity give it a bitter note that gets subtler as the wine ages.
It is best paired with flavorful dishes such as prime rib, rib-eye steak, osso buco, cottage pie, veal chops, roasted goose, and venison stew. Strong and powerful cheeses such as Castelmagno, Gorgonzola, and other blue cheeses also make great accompaniments.
On account of Sangiovese grapes growing all over Italy, this wine varies greatly from region to region. Sangiovese wines with black cherry notes and bold tannins are found in Tuscany, while ones with strawberry and rose notes can be found in southern Italy, around Campania.
Sangiovese, Italy’s champion red variety, goes by many names. Some include chianti, brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Montefalco Rosso, and Morellino di Scansano.
Pair Sangiovese with flavorful rare steaks, rich dishes made with chicken, dishes that have a tomato sauce base, or meaty pasta, and thank us later!
Prosecco is a versatile, affordable, white wine that hails from Italy’s Veneto region, and is often compared to champagne. In spite of that, it offers a multitude of unique differences that can add interest to many dishes and meals. It can be served as an aperitif, as part of a celebration, paired with a meal, or used as an ingredient in a cocktail.
Predominantly made from the white glera grape, this wine comes in two styles: frizzante (fizzy) and spumante (fully sparkling). Often served at brunch, prosecco pairs well with fruit salad or prosciutto-wrapped melon. The spritzy bubbles and fruity character of the wine also shine bright alongside a spicy pad thai or sushi.
Vin Santo is a dessert wine that is produced primarily in the Italian region of Tuscany. Typically sweet and viscous, this wine is cherished for its deep caramel and hazelnut notes. When paired with biscotti, vin santo becomes "Cantucci e Vin Santo," Italy's most famous tradition of welcoming guests.
The miraculous technique of making vin santo involves laying grapes out on mats or hanging them out to dry in the rafters of the winery for many months at a time in a process called “passito.”
After pressing, the raisins are placed into barrels called Caratelli or small casks, where they wait for natural fermentation to occur. The long and slow fermentation that can rise and fall with the seasons can take up to 4 years.
Blue cheese, dark chocolate, tiramisu, and other desserts, as well as mince pies, are some of the most common food pairings with this wine.
Vin brûlé is the Italian version of mulled wine that is enjoyed in the Piemonte region of northwestern Italy. It is usually made using a cheap, full-bodied, red wine, lemon, orange, ginger, and a variety of spices.
It’s a wintertime favorite for entertaining during the holidays as you can make large quantities at once, leave it over very low heat, and ladle it into glasses as your guests come in from the cold. Add a dash of brandy to enhance the flavors and intensity even more.
Brunello is made in the Tuscan town of Montalcino in the province of Siena, located about 80 kilometers south of Florence. The Italian red wine is made exclusively with Sangiovese grape and undergoes a long maceration period before the fermentation process.
The wine is aged in large Slavonian oak barrels for a minimum of five years (or 10 years for the Riserva version). It is a medium-bodied red with strong flavors of dark fruit, vanilla, chocolate, and brown sugar. The flavor profile, although bold initially, becomes subtler as it ages.
Brunello pairs excellently with heavy meat dishes like steak and game. Especially those that come with mushroom sauces. It also bodes well with heavy pasta dishes, stews, and powerful cheeses.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is regarded by many as Tuscany's noblest red and is one wine you cannot miss. Prohibited from being produced anywhere other than the vineyards surrounding the town of Montepulciano, this blend contains at least 70% Sangiovese grapes, or Prugnolo gentile, as called by the locals.
Normally this wine is aged for at least 2 years, with one year spent in oak barrels. However, for the riserva label, nobile should be aged for a minimum of 3 years. Nobile's versatility, refreshing acidity, and light tannins make it an excellent addition to Italian cuisine.
In the south of Vento and north of Tuscany lies one of the richest regions of Italy, Emilia-Romagna. Although not well known for its wine, it is the home to the Lambrusco grapes that are used to make this versatile sparkling red wine.
Following the concept of “what grows together, goes together,” Lambrusco pairs excellently well with salami, prosciutto, mortadella, bresaola Bolognese ragu, tortellini, ravioli, cannelloni, pizza, and other foods from the Emilia-Romagna region.
When it comes to cheese, this wine is best paired with Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano or pecorino also from this region. Popularized in the 1980s and now produced in bulk, Lambrusco wine has strong aromas of cherries, watermelons, violets, orange blossoms, and mandarin oranges.
Made from grapes grown on the east bank of Lake Garda in Vinello, Bardolino is a light-bodied red wine that is widely regarded as one of Italy's finest reds. It embodies fruity, light flavors that go well with many items such as chicken and pork dishes as well as cured meats.
Soft goat cheese, Port Salut, Mozzarella, Asiago, Brie, Ricotta, and feta go very well with Bardolino.
The third most famous wine of the Piedmont region comes from the mountains of northern Italy: Nebbiolo. Like Barolo and Barbaresco, Nebbiolo grapes are used to make this red wine.
While Nebbiolo wine is light in color as well as scent, its earthy taste is said to linger on your teeth, gums, and tongue due to its high tannin content and acidity. It hits strong notes of red fruits and roses along with a few other intriguing flavor profiles such as coffee, anise, and cherry.
Nebbiolo wine pairs extremely well with fatty roast meats like beef, turkey, and pork shank covered in herbs and tomato-based sauces, and pasta dishes with truffles. Both Parmigiano Reggiano and pecorino taste great with this wine as well.
This bold and fruit-forward variety hails almost exclusively from Sicily and gets its name from the intense red, almost black (nero), grapes that it is made from. Curiously similar in style to Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, nero d'Avola is well-structured and delights with a pleasant acidity and rich fruitiness.
What initially was a blending wine, Nero d'Avola today is considered Sicily's most successful food export, alongside almonds, olive oil, and the sweet Marsala dessert wine. This wine's acidic nature helps it balance out the fat and oils in rich foods like meats, burgers, steaks, veal, pork chops, meatloaf, and even barbecue!
Italian Drinks and Cocktails (Alcoholic): Liqueurs & Spirits
Most Italian liqueurs are based on age-old domestic recipes using only the ingredients on hand. They undeniably have a special place in the country’s culture and cuisine, and are often at the heart of Italy’s many sagra, or festivals. There’s a Nocino festival near Modena, artichoke festivals galore where you can try the unique Cynar, and so many more.
Apéritivo (Before the MEal)
An apéritivo is a dry alcoholic beverage usually served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
Campari - Characterized by its dark red color and bitter flavor, Campari is the National Drink of Italy. Born in the Piedmont city of Novara, this distinct Italian alcoholic liqueur is made from the infusion of herbs and fruit in alcohol and water. It’s an acquired taste for sure, but it’s ever-present in Italy.
Aperol - Aperol is a bright orange, bitter-tasting Italian apéritif that is made from gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona. That’s some Jeopardy trivia right there!
Like the bitter Campari, Aperol is commonly used to make a variety of different cocktails including the famous Aperol spritz cocktail.
Vermouth - First produced in Turin, Italy, vermouth is an aromatized fortified wine that is flavored with various botanicals. It can be of sweet and dry varieties, and it is used in several famous cocktails in Italy that we list below — and helps to balance out the bitterness often associated with traditional Italian cocktails.
Digestivo (After the MEal)
Italian digestivo are best described as alcoholic post-dinner nightcaps. Usually served as shots in small glasses, they are meant to assist in digesting hefty meals and come in both sweet and bitter varieties.
Limoncello - This refreshingly tangy, lemon-flavored digestif is served ice-cold in small glasses, making it the ideal summertime liqueur. The mouth-watering shot of sunshine is often associated with locations along the Amalfi Coast, such as Sorrento and Capri — home to fragrant lemons. Want to make homemade Italian limoncello? It’s easy to do!
Nocino - Nocino is a dark brown liqueur from the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy that is made from unripened green walnuts. It is sweet, spicy, and a little bitter, making it great for drinking on its own or drizzling on top of desserts.
Mirto - Mirto di Sardegna is a vintage Italian digestif made from the myrtle plant, specifically Sardinian mirto berries.
Sambuca - A fun and effective digestif, Sambuca is mainly made by distilling star anise. Famous brands include Molinari, Sambuca di Amore, Sambuca Dei Cesari, Sambuca Ramazzotti. It is normally served flaming with coffee beans.
Amari are bitter drinks with an alcohol gradation of 15-40%. Listed below are some popular brands you can choose from.
Vecchio Amaro del Capo (alcohol content: 35%) - Best enjoyed ice-cold, this bittersweet liquor from Calabria is made from a mix of nearly 30 different herbs, roots, and flowers.
Amaro Averna (alcohol content: 29%) - Made from an ancient recipe from 1868, Amaro Averna is a smooth, full-bodied, bittersweet experience that uses essential oils of lemons and oranges from Sicily to make it stand out.
Amaro Lucano (alcohol content: 28%) - First produced by the Vena family in Basilicata in 1894, Amaro Lucano is characterized by its unmistakable flavor obtained from infusing rare herbs and roots.
Amaro Montenegro (alcohol content: 23%) - Distilled in Bologna, Italy, Amaro Montenegro is a herbaceous liquor that is made from a secret combination of 40 botanicals. These include orange peels, vanilla, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and more.
Cynar (alcohol content: 16.5%) - Cynar is a popular and relatively new amaro brand (1952) that uses a blend of 13 herbs and plants, the most important one among them being artichokes!
Fernet (alcohol content: 40%) - Fernet is a bitter, aromatic spirit made from a number of herbs and spices. It usually includes myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and saffron, with a base of distilled grape spirits.
Amaretto (alcohol content: 21%) - This almond liqueur is an ingredient in countless desserts and cocktails across the globe. Amaretto is a dark, sweet drink made with varying ingredients including almond essence, herbs, botanicals, and apricot kernel oil. Amaretto is also often enjoyed on its own as an aperitif or an after-dinner digestif.
Grappa (alcohol content: 37.5%) - Grappa is a clear, distilled Italian liquor that is made of vinaccia, the residue left behind after pressing grapes to make wine. It is typical of the Northern Italian regions of Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Grappa Nonino, Grappa Mazzetti d’Altavilla, Grappa Elisi (Berta distilleries), Grappa Rubinia Gualco, Bepi Tosolini are some popular brands.
Italian Beverages (Non-Alcoholic)
Italian Coffee drinks
Coffee drinks in Italy are a cultural experience, as "caffè" is so much a part of daily life. The word “caffè” is both the word for coffee as well as what you say when you want to order an espresso, as in “caffè, per favore”. Espresso is the most commonly ordered coffee and knowing when to say it is your first step in becoming less of a “straniero” (foreigner)! ;-)
Coffee beverages typically start with an espresso shot, to which other ingredients like milk and milk foam are added in. Here's a quick guide as well as a few of our favorite coffee beverages to try while in Italy.
Caffè doppio: A double shot of espresso.
Cappuccino: Shot of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam in the ratio of 1:1:1.
Caffè Macchiato: Espresso with a splash of warm milk.
Latte Macchiato: Warm milk with a splash of espresso.
Caffè Lungo: A shot of espresso with some extra water.
Ristretto: Espresso made with the same amount of coffee grounds but half the quantity of water; a stronger more concentrated shot.
Caffè con Panna: Espresso with whipped cream.
Caffè Corretto: Espresso with a shot of liquor (grappa or sambuca)
Caffè Affogato: An espresso shot poured over a mini scoop of vanilla ice cream, typically served in a small shot glass or double espresso cup.
Bicerin: Bicerin is a traditional Italian hot drink that originated in Turin, Italy. The drink is made of three layers, namely espresso, drinking chocolate, and milk.
Italian Beer Brands
While beer may not nearly as popular as wine in Italy, the craft beer movement has really heated up in recent years with small-batch micro-brews popping up near most cities. Beer can be a fun change of pace when entertaining guests or chowing down on some fast food, and it pairs very well with some regional food that leans toward the heavier, porkier, fattier side of the food spectrum — looking at you Emilia Romagna! Thankfully, there just so happens to be several good craft beer pubs in Bologna.
Here are some of the most popular Italian beer brands you’ll find in Italy, but read further to find more unique beers.
Peroni Italian beer - Peroni is an Italian brewing company founded in 1846 by Francesco Peroni in Vigevano. It is best known worldwide for its pale lager, Nastro Azzurro.
Moretti Italian beer - Founded in 1859 in Udine by Luigi Moretti, this Italian brewing company boasts an unchanged recipe consisting of simple, yet timeless ingredients.
Best Italian beers
Listed below are 5 of the most popular and in our opinion, best beers in Italy:
Re Hop Birrificio Toccalmatto (5%): American style pale featuring grapefruit notes and a bittersweet caramel finish.
La Rossa Birra Moretti (7.2%): Double malt made with barley and hops with flavors of dark chocolate, toffee, and molasses.
Carata Costa Est (6.7%): Another malt with hints of toffee and caramel.
La Granda EssenziAle Birrificio Della Grande (4.7%): This American pale ale is a bitter, nectarous melted gold with hints of pine and spices.
Stile Vienna Birra Antoniana (5.4%): Characterized by aromas of brown bread, grilled peach, and toasted malt.
11 Famous Italian Cocktails and Bubbly Drinks (with recipes)
One thing that Italians probably know better than anyone is the art of having a good time. A night out on the town can make for an unforgettable experience when in Italy, and knowing your cocktails will make it even better!
Slightly bitter with hints of sweetness, Negronis are one of the most popular cocktails in Italy. A Negroni contains one ounce each of gin, Campari, and red vermouth. These are then served over ice with a cute orange peel stuck to the glass for style.
The Negroni is a popular Italian cocktail, made of one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel. It is considered an apéritif. A properly made Negroni is stirred, not shaken, and built over ice in an old fashioned or ‘rocks’ glass and garnished with a slice of orange.
Main alcohol: Campari, vermouth, gin
Ingredients: 1 oz (1 part) Gin, 1 oz (1 part) Campari, 1 oz (1 part) Sweet red Vermouth
Preparation: Stir into glass over ice, garnish and serve.
Served: On the rocks Standard garnish: Orange peel
Drinkware: Old Fashioned glass
A classic Italian cocktail, the Bombardino is akin to an American eggnog cocktail or the Coquito of Puerto Rico, and it makes sense that this warm, cream-based drink was first crafted in Lombardia in the Italian Alps — perfect for the cold, snowy days.
Recipe: How to Make a Bombardino
Main alcohol: Brandy, Egg liqueur
Ingredients: 1.5 oz brandy, 3 oz egg liqueur, whipped cream, and cinnamon.
Preparation: Warm the egg liqueur in a small saucepan but do not boil. Pour the brandy into a glass mug and slowly add the warmed egg liqueur, stirring well.
Top with a dash of cinnamon and whipped cream for added decadence.
Drinkware: Tempered glass mug
Named after Giuseppe Garibaldi — one of Italy’s “fathers of the fatherland” — this iconic two-ingredient cocktail contains Campari and fresh orange juice.
Also known as a Campari-Orange, the Garibaldi cocktail combines Campari, orange juice, and a half slice of orange — combined, it’s a refreshing citrus and bitter taste. Invented in Novara, the Garibaldi cocktail is the perfect the unification of Italy’s north and south in a glass, with the Campari from Milan and oranges from Sicily (it’s even better with blood oranges!).
Recipe: How to Make a Garibaldi
Ingredients: 1 oz Campari; 3 oz fresh squeezed orange juice; lots of ice; and half a slice of orange, for garnish
Preparation: Fill glass with ice, add the campari and top it with orange juice. Give it a stir and garnish with half a slice of orange, if you like.
Served: On the rocks Standard garnish: Orange peel
Drinkware: Old Fashioned glass
Made from just two uniquely Italian ingredients — Campari and vermouth (plus soda water) — if ever there was a classic Italian cocktail, ironically the Americano might be it. This old-school cocktail gets its name as a watered down way for Americans to enjoy the bitter taste of Campari, with the smoothness of the vermouth balancing out the flavor profile.
Recipe: How to Make an Americano
Main alcohol: Campari, vermouth
Ingredients: 1 oz Campari, 1 oz Red Vermouth, Soda water,
Preparation: Pour equal parts Campari and vermouth over ice into glass, add a splash of soda water and garnish with half orange slice.
Drinkware: Old Fashioned glass
Sbagliato translates as “wrong” or “mistake” and gives this delicious mistake its name. The Sbagliato cocktail was erroneously made when a bartender was trying to make a Negroni cocktail and used Prosecco instead of gin.
Pour Prosecco into an ice-filled large wine or rocks glass. Add vermouth and Campari and top off with club soda. Gently stir together; garnish with lime wheel.
Recipe: How to Make a Sbagliato
Main Alcohol: Prosecco
Ingredients: 4 oz dry Prosecco or sparkling white wine, 1 oz sweet vermouth, ½ ounce Campari, club soda, garnish with lime
Preparation: Pour Prosecco into a wine or rocks glass filled with ice. Add the vermouth and Campari, then top with the club soda. Gently stir and garnish with lime.
Drinkware: Wine glass or old-fashioned glass
The Italian Spritz
These Italian spritz recipes are the most popular Spritzes in Italy, and so easy to make:
6. Aperol Spritz Cocktail (Spritz Veneziana)
This gorgeous golden-orange drink is seen everywhere in Venice, Veneto and northern Italy. It’s an Italian favorite containing Aperol, dry prosecco, club soda, and an orange slice served over ice.
A Spritz Veneziano (or Spritz Italiano), also called just a Venice cocktail, is one of the most popular Italian drinks. an Italian wine-based cocktail, commonly served as an aperitif in Northeast Italy. It consists of prosecco, Aperol and soda water.
Recipe: How to Make an Aperol Spritz
Main alcohol: Prosecco
Ingredients: 2 oz Prosecco, 1 1/4 oz Aperol, splash of soda water
Preparation: Build into glass over ice, garnish with an orange slice, and serve on the rocks.
Served: on the rocks
Drinkware: Large bell wine glass or Old fashioned glass
7. Hugo Spritz
Want to try a new Italian spritz that’s deliciously citrusy and refreshing? You might love an Hugo Spritz! This tempting and light Italian cocktail is made with St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur that originates in the northern Italy region of South Tyrol. Gin is added along with prosecco and a splash of soda water, then garnished with mint and lime.
One sip, and you’ll be transported to the flowery meadows of the Italian Alps in springtime. You’ll also find this spritz widely enjoyed in Austria, Switzerland and Germany as well.
Recipe: How to Make an Hugo Spritz
Main alcohol: St. Germain
Ingredients: Ice cubes, 4 oz chilled Prosecco, 1 oz St. Germain liqueur, splash of chilled club soda or seltzer water, fresh limes, fresh mint leaves
Preparation: In a large glass, muddle together 4 mint leaves with a few pieces of lime, add ice and a shot of St. Germain then fill with prosecco. Top with a spritz of soda water. Add a sprig of fresh mint for garnish.
Drinkware: Wine glass
Another famous Italian drink is the Pirlo, a pre-dinner cocktail made with white wine, Campari, and seltzer. Pirlos are a classic Italian aperitivo cocktail and less-famous than the Aperol Spritz, which makes it even more tempting to try!
Many people think a Pirlo is the same as an Aperol Spritz, but they are two different Italian cocktails. What’s the difference between a Pirlo and an Aperol Spritz? A Pirlo is made with still white wine, while an Aperol Spritz is made with Prosecco. So there you go.
If you’re not a fan of Campari drinks because of the bitterness, you may like the Pirlo, as the bitterness of the Campari is balanced out by the white wine. I find that Prosecco seems to enhance Campari’s bitterness in an Aperol Spritz.
Recipe: How to Make a Pirlo
Main alcohol: White wine, Campari
Ingredients: 1 oz Campari, 2-3 oz white wine, sparkling water, and 1 slice of lemon or orange.
Preparation: In a glass, pour one part Campari, the still white wine, and a dash of sparkling water. Garnish with the lemon or orange slice!
Drinkware: Wine glass
Italian Prosecco Cocktails
Bittersweet yet refreshing, Bellini is a classic Italian cocktail that originated in Venice, Italy. While Bellinis are the most classic of Italian prosecco cocktails, it’s easy to make and changable to your own favorite tastes. The Bellini is made with peaches, but any fruit will do nicely!
Recipe: How to Make a Bellini
Main alcohol: Prosecco
Ingredients: White or yellow peaches, 2 oz fresh peach purée, nectar or juice, 4 oz Prosecco
Preparation: Pour peach puree into chilled flute and add Prosecco. Stir gently and serve without ice and a peach slice for garnish.
Drinkware: Champagne flute
This vibrant, candy-colored cocktail is sweeter than most of the other drinks on this list. In essence, a Rossini is a Bellini made with strawberries instead.
The Rossini is named after the famous Italian composer known for his “bubbly” musical compositions. This makes it similar to the naming of bellinis, as Bellini was a famous 15th-century artist who painted the toga of a saint a pinkish hue.
Recipe: How to Make a Rossini
Main alcohol: Prosecco
Ingredients: Fresh or frozen strawberries Lemon juice Simple syrup And sparkling wine or champagne.
Preparation: Pour strawberry puree into chilled flute and add Prosecco. Stir gently and serve without ice and sliced strawberry on the glass for garnish.
Drinkware: Champagne flute
Named for the famous Italian opera compser Giacomo Puccini, the Puccini cocktail is another variation on the Bellini and the ideal mix of sweet and tangy. All you need to make this cocktail is your favorite citrus fruit (mandarin oranges, clementines, or tangerines), Mandarine Napoleon liqueur, and prosecco.
Recipe: How to Make a Puccini
Main alcohol: Mandarine Napoleon liqueur, Prosecco
Ingredients: 5-7 segments of tangerine/mandarin/clementine, 3/4 oz of Mandarine liqueur, and Prosecco.
Preparation: Muddle the fruit in a stainless steel shaker. Add ice, the Mandarine liqueur and shake. Strain the mixture into chilled flutes and top with Prosecco.
Drinkware: Champagne flute
From wines to beers, liqueurs to cocktails, and even the occasional spiked coffee, Italians sure love their drinks!
We hope this guide has shown you that the famous drinks in Italy are just as diverse as the country’s countless culinary offerings. Let your journeys lead you to discover the rest!