The Italian summer holiday, Ferragosto, is one of our favorite times of year. It's every August 15th and even when we're not in Italy we still celebrate. Like 4th of July in the United States, seemingly the whole country of Italy takes the day off to celebrate Ferragosto. And for most people that means escaping the summer heat on the beach with friends and Italian cocktails.
The reality though is that we do not wait for our annual Ferragosto celebration to actually enjoy classic Italian cocktails. Rather we turn to these classic Italian cocktail drinks whenever we want to channel aperitivo (aka Italian happy hour) vibes. To be honest, if there's an excuse for Italian aperitivo cocktails, we're all about it. And we're pretty sure we're not alone because one of the most popular activities time and again on our Salt & Wind group trip to Italy is the classic Italian cocktail class.
So here are 10 Italian cocktails that are perfect aperitivo drinks. They're a mix of classic Italian cocktails and some modern ones, but are all cocktails we love and that you should enjoy, even if you're not traveling to Italy anytime soon!
It's basically illegal to talk about Italy in the summertime without talking about the classic Spritz. Though this popular Italian drink was created in Northern Italy, you now find it all over made with either Campari (our personal favorite) or Aperol.
As known as a white Spritz, this super light Spritz combines elderflower, bubbly wine, and lots of citrus and herbs. It’s a true Italian classic you can’t miss this summer.
We’re always on the hunt for the perfect summer cocktail to fight off the August heat and this variation on the classic Aperol Spritz cocktial adds in fresh watermelon juice and some ginger juice for a super refreshing twist.
Seriously though, both Aperol and Campari go really well with fresh watermelon juice, which is why we also use it here in this Campari Watermelon Cooler cocktail that's as easy to make as it is delicious.
To be honest, the classic Negroni cocktail — a mix of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari — is too strong for us in the summertime. Instead, we opt for a Negroni Sbagliato cocktail where the gin is swapped out for another one of our favorite mixers: bubbly Prosecco wine!
Speaking of Campari, our other favorite twist on the Negroni is the Americano. A bit lighter than the traditional recipe, this version swaps out the gin for soda water.
Made with Italian rose wine, orange liqueur, and the bittersweet Cocchi Americano, this is the way we do Sangria with Italian vibes.
Sure, this is not your classic Italian cocktail,, but the tinge of bitter makes it one of our favorite ways to serve Aperol.
This drink was the creation of an Italian bartender at S.Y. Kitchen in Santa Ynez and it's a really interesting twist on the classic Daiquiri. A bit sweet and spicy, it's one of those drinks you have to try to appreciate.
When it's too hot to think, we make our drinks frozen! And one popular drink that is particularly delicious frozen is this Bellini.
And when we do take our Bellinis unfrozen, we like to add a bit of lavender for a floral twist on the popular Italian summertime drink.
More Italy On Salt & Wind
- The Italian Wine Region You Need To Visit Now
- The Classic Cocktails You Need To Try When You Visit Italy
- 10 Things We Love About The Salt & Wind Italy Trip
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Opening photo by Liubov Burakova