The iconic italian cocktails to try

Undoubtedly Italy is well known for its high quality wines. And what about cocktails? It may surprise you… but some legendary cocktail drinks were invented right here.
It is an Italian tradition to sip the great classic cocktails preferably during the aperitivo. 😉

💡 Interesting to know:
The origins of the word cocktail have been debated, however, here are some interesting and most popular hypotheses:

  • from the English terms cock (rooster) and tail (tail), perhaps due to the fact that around 1400 in the English countryside was drunk a colourful beverage inspired by the colours of the cockerel’s tail;
  • from the French term coquetier, an egg container that was used in New Orleans during the 19th century to serve liquor.

The first publication of a guide that included cocktail recipes was in 1862: How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion by Professor Jerry Thomas. In addition to the list of the usual drinks with liquor mix, there were written 10 recipes that were called “Cocktails“. The ingredient that differentiated “cocktails” from other drinks in this compendium was the use of bitter, although this type of ingredient is now almost no longer found in modern recipes.

Must try Italy’s best classic cocktails:

Negroni Sbagliato (or “mistaken” Negroni)

The “Wrong” Negroni was created by Mirko Stocchetto in 1972, the father of Maurizio Stocchetto, the current owner of Bar Basso in Milan. The cocktail was allegedly discovered by a too-busy bartender who wanted to make Negroni but mistakenly used a bottle of spumante instead of the gin. Negroni Sbagliato is a variation on the classic one made with a combination of sweet Vermouth, Campari and Prosecco or any dry sparkling wine, the drink is often garnished with an orange peel.


Negroni Sbagliato
Negroni Sbagliato italian cocktail

💡 Interesting to know:
Bar Basso was the first-ever bar in Milan to introduce the aperitif to everyday people, while before cocktails could only be found at the exclusive lounge bars of luxurious international grand hotels. Today in Bar Basso you will find a menu with over 500 drinks, it is one of the few rare places where the tradition and charm of the great international bars is still alive.

Negroni Sbagliato Recipe
  • 30ml Brut sparkling wine
  • 30ml Red Vermouth (Carpano originally)
  • 30ml Campari
  • a slice of orange

Bellini cocktail

Created in the 1940s by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, the cocktail was named after the famous Italian painter Giovanni Bellini. The slight pink color reminded Giuseppe of a Saint’s toga from a 15th century painting by Venetian artist. The classic Bellini is made by mixing prosecco with peach purée, it’s so good idea for summertime.


Harry's Bar in Venice
Harry’s Bar in Venice
Bellini recipe
  • 125g white peach purée
  • 30g Spumante Brut or Prosecco
Bellini Cocktail
Bellini Cocktail in Venice

Pour peach purée into a champagne flute, add some prosecco, gently stir with a spoon to combine. Top off the drink with another splash of prosecco and garnish with a peach slice.

Americano cocktail

Inspite of the name Americano, all the ingredients of this cocktail are italian. The cocktail was originally named Milano-Torino due to its two primary ingredients, bitter and vermouth. Campari is from Milan while the sweet Vermouth is made in Torino. Milano-Torino was a simple blend of vermouth and was served without ice, soda or lemon.

Milano Torino Campari and Vermouth
Milano-Torino: Campari and Vermouth

The cocktail was later renamed because of its popularity among Americans who drank italian drink pouring over ice and topped with soda. The first cocktail was served in the 1860s in Caffè Campari.

Cocktail Americano
Cocktail Americano

💡 Interesting to know:
Americano cocktail is the favourite drink ordered by James Bond in “Casino Royale”, Fleming’s first 007 spy novel.

James Bond drinks Americano
James Bond drinks Americano

Spritz cocktail

The cocktail Spritz is one of the most appreciated drink during aperitif time.
The word Spritz from the German word spritzen means “to spray” or “to splash’”. It reaches back to the 1800s when part of the Veneto region of northern Italy were controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The soldiers of the Habsburg Empire found the Italian wines too strong and added a spray of water (a “spritz”, in German) to lighten it.

Spritz Cocktail
Spritz Cocktail

As a cocktail, Spritz was created in Padova in 1919 by the Barbieri brothers who spent seven years experimenting with flavours to reach the perfect one. With time the recipe has been enriched, first replacing still water with sparkling water, then progressively integrating flavors with fortified wines and then with liqueurs. Aperol Spritz became a popular alternative to the usual Venetian mix of white wine and soda.

If you want to have a drink with a gorgeus view on the Duomo of Milan, Terrazza Aperol is the right place. This historic venue of the city is a perfect spot for an aperitif and the terrace opens directly on the Cathedral.

Terrazza Aperol Milano
Terrazza Aperol – Milano
Classic Spritz recipe
  • 60 ml Aperol
  • 90 ml Prosecco
  • Soda (a splash)
  • Slice of fresh orange
  • Ice

Hope these cocktails will bring you a taste of Italy whether you order them in a bar or make for yourself at home. 😉