Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thirsty Thursdays: Aperol Edition

Want to add a bit of punch to your summer cocktail repertoire? Look no further than Aperol: an Italian aperitif that was first made in Padua in 1919. Its simply gorgeous, in both color and flavor, is low in alcohol yet high in taste, and plays beautifully with a number of spirits.

Personally, I've been captivated by Aperol ever since I first spied bottles and bottles of it decoratively lining the walls of a downtown Italian bistro many months ago. I was instantly charmed by its bright, nearly day-glow, color - and the chic retro design of the bottle didn't hurt either. I ooohed and ahhhed over it just enough to actually plant a seed in the husband's mind and shortly thereafter, he brought a bottle home.

I knew enough to know that it was vaguely orange and medicinal in flavor, not dissimilar to Campari, and that it was made from a proprietary blend of bitter orange and botanicals that's been kept secret through the years. What I didn't know was what to do with it. Naturally, I googled.

My brief search turned up probably hundreds of uses for it ... and one in particular cried out to me ... mostly because I had almost all of the ingredients on hand. First developed at the Pegu Club in New York city, the Intro to Aperol cocktail is a simple yet sophisticated little sipper that hits all the right notes for me. Its refreshing, slightly astringent, and just addictive enough to make you want to take another sip ... and another, and another and another. Below, my version.

Intro to Aperol - Diva Style:
  • 2 ounces Aperol
  • 1 ounce gin (we use Hendrick's)
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 ounce agave nectar
  • dash of Angostura Bitters
  • slice of lemon peel for garnish
Into a martini shaker, pour the Aperol, gin, lemon juice, agave nectar and bitters. Fill the shaker with ice, close and shake well until the outside of the shaker frosts. Pour into a rocks glass and twist a slice of lemon peel over the drink. Garnish the drink with the lemon peel. Serve and enjoy, repeat as necessary!

This recipe first appeared in the Washington Post back in November of 2009, as part of an article on classic cocktails. I gather that the original drink, as made at the Pegu Club, calls for an orange peel to be flamed over the drink. Alas, I had no oranges on hand and, to be honest, I rather like the contrast of the lemon peel I used with the already orangey Aperol.

My version also substitutes some agave nectar for simple syrup and that is a personal choice. I almost never mix with simple syrup these days, as prefer to eschew sugar where possible. For me, the agave works just as well and, frankly, I can't taste the difference. Do as you see fit.

Though generally billed as an aperitif, Aperol works just as well as a digestif. The herby botanicals, astringent orange flavor and light body, can either serve to whet your appetite or calm the storms of a too-indulgent meal, depending on your needs. It pairs beautifully with gin, vodka and works especially well with champagne or sparkling wines. Indeed, Aperol can also be enjoyed on its own - over the rocks, with a twist, or with a splash of soda perhaps. If you're of a mind, you can add a dash or two of lemon or grapefruit bitters to shake things up a bit.

My point? Mixing it up with Aperol is good fun. Which ever path you choose, you'll be rewarded with a colorful, flavorful cocktail who's festive orange glow is exactly right for summer sipping.



Same Sweet Girl: Memoir of a Southern Belle said...

I hadn't heard of Aperol! This sounds absolutely delicious though and I really want to try it!!! :)

Suzy said...

Looks refreshing! I've never tried Aperol or Campari or anything like that, but anything that mixes well with gin is a winner in my book. I'm definitely going to try this!

Dinnersanddreams said...

I am not familiar with Aperol but the drink sure looks amazing!

Molly said...

I've had Campari, but not Aperol, and I like how you used the agave instead of the syrup...genius!

Mo Diva said...

Im gonna say it. Im the drinker and I have never heard of Aperol. But i will say this baby looks amazing.
It reminds me of a sex on the beach... colorwise.
looks excellent diva, as usual

The Diva on a Diet said...

Thanks, everyone! I'm surprised, but also really glad, that so many are unfamiliar with Aperol. Very happy to introduce you to this unusual spirit!

If you try it, let me know what you think and what you've made with it. Curious Diva wants to know! ;)

The Duo Dishes said...

You're so knowledgeable about your spirits. Never heard of aperol, but it sounds very intriguing.

Fashion Meets Food said...

I have never heard of Aperol before, but this sounds absolutely divine. I am very interested in trying it!


The Diva on a Diet said...

If you like Campari, you'll def. like Aperol. Its a bit less intense, but still such an intriguing flavor.

So glad you guys enjoyed the post. Thank you!! :)

♥¸¸.•*¨Skip to Malou¨¨*•.¸¸♥¸ said...

I felt my lips and throat drying up and looks like this glass of aperol with ice cubes is all i needed to quench my thirst... ahhh refreshingly looking drink!

Meatloaf Recipe said...

great posting! it's really helpful for me.
thanks for share this.

Sophie said...

Thanks for introducing me to Aperol & your Diva style version cocktail , I love it a lot!

MMMMMMMMM,...I hadn't heard from it before,..but I will look in my local Italian shop!!

Thanks,....kisses from sunny & hot Brussels!!!!

stephchows said...

i needed you at my wedding to help me order up more interesting cocktails than I did LOL

Katherine Aucoin said...

This looks like the perfect cocktail to sip under an umbrella at a sidewalk cafe, while chatting with one of your good friends!

Tangled Noodle said...

I have committed aperol to memory so that I will watch out for it. Your description of bitter orange and botanical flavors is making me so thirsty for a glass . . .

nora@ffr said...

never heard of this version!! but sound rili delious as it look sooo orangy.. the taste of bitter orange with other perfect mixed falvour is making me wanting one glass of that sweet aperol :)