If you're tired of the mojitos and margaritas from last summer and looking to change things up for the Summer of 09 then I would highly suggest adding a bottle of Aperol to your home bar lineup. The refreshing orange flavor and low alcohol is just the thing to drink in the warm sun.
I first fell in love with Aperol when I was traveling through Australia back in 2005. A fellow sommelier ordered it at a cafe in Melbourne as an afternoon aperitif and I decided to join him as I had never tried it before. He said it was like Campari but more orangey in flavor. As much as I want to love Campari, it's just far too bitter for me despite the kiddy cocktail color that lures you into thinking it will be sweet. Italians appreciate bitterness but it's a flavor I could never wrap my taste buds around. We ordered the Aperol on ice with a splash of soda and I took a sip bracing myself for an "ack" flavor but I was pleasantly surprised by the slightly bitter and refreshing orange taste. It was the perfect cocktail to lift me out of a sight seeing induced fatigue on a breezy Melbourne afternoon.
Aperol originated in 1919 and was created by the Barbieri Brothers who wanted to launch a lighter aperitif spirit with an alcohol content of only 11%. Campari by comparison is 22%. The lower alcohol is perfect for people like me who don't want anything too boozy before the main event of a wine laden dinner. Aperol's unique flavor and color is achieved through a secret blend of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, herbs and roots. Today, Aperol is the number one selling aperitif liqueur in Italy, more so than Campari. As Campari lost ground to Aperol, they adopted the "if you can't beat them then join them" stance and purchased the competition in the 90's. That's one way to solve the problem.
Charles getting his Aperol on in South Beach
I like to have my Aperol on ice with a splash of soda and a little drizzle of simple syrup to cut the bitterness. The most popular way to enjoy Aperol is in a Spritz cocktail - Aperol on ice, topped off with Prosecco and a splash of soda. It's the perfect drink for summer.
You can find Aperol at most fine wine stores for around $25 a bottle. It may sound pricey but a little goes a long way.