Monday, August 28, 2023

Aperol doesn't have to be all about the wildly popular Aperol Spritz

Paper Plane, a key Aperol cocktail
When I was in Italy last summer, I mostly refused the safe choice of wine (I’m a beer and cocktail person) and made it into a challenge to find good drinks. I was mostly unsuccessful but did have lots of good conversations with waiters who seemed mostly open to my newfound mixology enthusiasm.

People kept telling me I should have an Aperol Spritz, which I finally succumbed to on our last night there. I hated it.

But recently I was intrigued to find out what all the Aperol hype is about and bought a bottle. The spirit was actually created in 1919 with a concept that having an aperitif with only 11 percent alcohol content was considered revolutionary, according to Difford's. Made from roots and herbs mostly found in Northern Italy, Aperol has hints of orange and rhubarb and a light red color.

The very first drink I tried making turned out to be excellent, and the handful of people I’ve made it for agree. It’s just the right mix of a little heavy and quite breezy and it’s called Paper Plane. Here’s how, in a martini glass, you make it: 

  • .75 parts bourbon
  • .75 parts Aperol
  • .75 pt Amaro Nonino Quintessentia (or easily replicable with angostura bitters and sweet vermouth)
  • .75 parts fresh squeezed lemon

Others on my list to make include:

Amarita is a fairly bitter drink served in a martini glass and with a long strand of lime zest as a garnish:

  • 1.5 parts reposado tequila
  • .75 parts Aperol
  • .5 parts fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 3 parts grapefruit bitters (optional)
Bitter Grapefruit is served in a martini glass with grapefruit zest for garnish:
  • 1.5 parts vodka
  • .5 parts Aperol
  • 1 part sweet vermouth
  • .5 parts fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
Bluegrass is served in a martini glass with cucumber muddled in the base of the shaker. It’s a Northern Irish invention that tastes like cucumber, bourbon, and bitter sweet orange. Upon first blush, I like it, even though I had to, in a pinch, use jalapeƱo simple syrup instead of regular simple syrup, and it really zings with the flavor of an orange crush soda:
  • 2 inches of cucumber muddled
  • 1.5 parts Bulleit bourbon
  • .75 parts Aperol
  • .20 parts simple syrup
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters
Facundo’s Flare is a smooth, almost creamy drink with strong hints of vanilla and rum, served in a martini glass:
  • 1.5 parts white rum
  • .5 parts Aperol
  • 1 part fresh squeezed orange juice
  • .5 parts vanilla simple syrup
  • 2 dashes of peach bitters
  • .5 an egg white

Pre Siesta is a relatively recent drink created in London and is served in a martini glass with an orange zest garnish. I would recommend either staying away from this one entirely (unless you like a veeery Cointreau-heavy taste) or at least add copious amounts of ice and water or fizzy water:

  • 2 parts reposado tequila
  • .5 parts Aperol
  • .75 parts Cointreau
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
Two-One-Two was created in 2008 in New York City (get it, same area code?) and is served in a Collins glass with grapefruit or grapefruit zest for garnish. It presents as earthy with freshness:
  • 2 parts fresh squeezed grapefruit
  • 1 part Aperol
  • 2 parts reposado tequila
So, by all means, go out and get yourself a bottle of Aperol, but make these drinks (Paper Plane and Bluegrass are my two favorites) instead of an Aperol Spritz.

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