By Maren Swanson
There’s something about summer being on the horizon that makes me want to travel. I miss Italy! The fastest and easiest way to enjoy my Italian cravings are with food and drink. When I was in Rome, Positano, Florence, Venice and Milan, one common cocktail stood out amongst all of them, and that was the Aperol Spritz. Aperol is an Italian apéritif that tastes like a combination of oranges and herbs. Hit happy hour aka “apertivo hour” in Italy, and you will always find an Aperol Spritz with an orange garnish on the table.
When I first returned from my trip I was bummed because I hit two stores and the Aperol was sold out, however this week, I hunted it down and was determined to make my own at-home Italian aperitif cocktail. I opted for tangelos instead of regular navel oranges because I believe they yield a more intense and vibrant orange flavor, but a navel or blood orange will still work great too. Try switching up your usual mimosa for my brunch-friendly Italian Vacation cocktail; you may just love the bolder, tangier twist.
This citrus-spiked drink is “delizioso” and it will certainly cool you off when the temperature outside actually spikes, and your fan just doesn’t seem to cut it. I may have to wait another year to have an Italian vacation, but for now…I’ve discovered a taste of it in my own American backyard.
Italian Vacation Cocktail
1 ½ oz Aperol
1 ½ oz fresh squeezed tangelo juice
3 oz Italian blood orange soda (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)
1 ½ oz sparkling water
3 oz Prosecco
Add the Aperol and tangelo juice to a cocktail shaker and give it a “dry shake” (don’t shake it with ice). Fill a large wine glass or tall glass with ice and strain Aperol/orange mixture into your glass. Next, layer the blood orange soda and sparkling water and then finish off the top of the drink with Prosecco. Garnish with fresh mint and an orange slice and/or edible flowers. Tip: if you use edible marigold flowers like I did, try using a raspberry to act a floating device for the small flower stem.