Five Favorite Italian Summer Drinks
A Guest Post by Susan Van Allen
Italians taught me how to celebrate summer in style, with delicious, refreshing drinks. Here are five of my favorites to add a splash of la dolce vita to sunny days:
Marinating peaches in wine is a long-standing Italian summer tradition. In 1948, bartender Giuseppe Cipriani, who adored white peaches, took the tradition to a new dimension. He invented a puree of peach juice and Prosecco to serve at his legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice and named it in honor of the pink glow in Renaissance painter Bellini’s masterpieces.
Recipe: 2 parts Prosecco, 1 part peach puree. Stir and serve in a chilled glass.
Sixteenth-century Venetian feasts always included a sgropin (sorbet) to cleanse the palate in between courses. In this land of boating, there are many words for tying, and sgropin, in Venetian dialect, means “to untie a little knot.” In the case of Sgroppino (little un-knotter), this refreshment unties knots in your stomach, during or after a heavy meal.
Recipe: 1/3 cup lemon sorbet, 3 ounces Prosecco, 1-ounce vodka. Whisk together and serve in a chilled champagne flute, with a straw.
Sbagliato means “mistaken” in Italian, which is what happened in 1968 to a busy bartender at Milan’s famous Bar Basso. He was making a classic Negroni, but grabbed a bottle of Prosecco instead of gin. The customer was delighted with the taste, and thus a lighter, fizzier Negroni was born.
Recipe: 1 part Prosecco, 1 part vermouth, 1 part Campari. Stir and serve up or on the rocks.
Germans in Padua, during the nineteenth-century Hapsburg domination of the Veneto, asked that the heavy local wines be spritzen (sprayed with water) to lighten them up, thereby inspiring obliging Italian hosts to invent this aperitivo. The classic version is made with Aperol, but today bartenders may substitute such bitters as Campari, Cynar or Select.
Recipe: 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 splash soda. Stir and serve up or on the rocks, with a garnish of orange or lemon slice or an olive.
Italians have a love affair with caffè, but when it comes to ice, they’re stand-offish, believing it could freeze the digestion and cause mal di stomaco (tummy ache). So though you’ll never see a pitcher of iced coffee at a traditional Italian table, they recently invented this elegant chilled caffè and gave it an Americanized name, pronounced Shock-eh-RRah-toe. It’s a treat to watch a barista enthusiastically shake it up, and you may request a “corretto” version—adding a shot of amaretto or liqueur of choice for an extra kick.
Recipe: 2 shots espresso, 1 teaspoon superfine sugar. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, pour in espresso and sugar, and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds, until frothy. Pour into a chilled martini glass and serve.
Susan Van Allen is the author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go. Susan loves to share her passion for all things Italian with women travelers, designing and leading Golden Weeks in Italy: For Women Only. Next up is her October 2016 Golden Week in Florence. Click here to find out more.