In the Spoon series Spoon Feed, we give tips and tricks on entertaining & hosting and seasonal & trending topics all through the lens of food. 

The Mediterranean summer (or Mamma Mia summer or Tomato Girl summer) is taking over TikTok, and no idyllic getaway is complete without a stellar cocktail. If international travel doesn’t fit your budget, a few simple mix-ins bring “mamma mia”-worthy drinks to the comfort of your home (or girls night out). Channel wood-fire oven pizzas, crystal clear seas, and Milanese fashion, all while sipping your spritz of choice. This guide will take your through all of the major Italian cocktails, what's in them, and why you should be drinking them. Pro tip: prepare your afternoon cocktail alongside olives, taralli and prosciutto for a proper aperitivo.  

1. Aperol Spritz

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The Dirty Shirley was all the rage in 2022, but 2023 is no doubt the year of Aperol. Unsurprisingly, Italy has been ahead of the curve for a century. Bitter and refreshing, orange-flavored liqueur named for the French word “Apéro” serves as the star of this iconic cocktail. The recipe for Aperol itself remains a secret — rhubarb is rumored to be part of the mix — but mystery doesn’t hinder enjoyment. Three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol, and one part soda water makes for the perfect ratio, with a slice of orange to finish it off.  

2. Hugo Spritz

My signature order and go-to pasta pairing, the Hugo Spritz is a crisp floral cocktail far lighter than the famous Aperol. Akin to a Mojito, this Northern Italian classic features fresh mint, lime juice, and soda water. Three parts Prosecco and a splash of elderflower liqueur give the Hugo its distinctive herbaceous profile. Between bubbles and mint, you simply can’t go wrong with my aperitivo obsession.

3. Limoncello Spritz

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The empty Limoncello bottles lining the top of our fridge were testament to how addictive these cocktails can be. Southern destinations like the Amalfi Coast and Sicily are known for their incredible citrus products, a key ingredient in this zesty liqueur. Adding Prosecco and soda water using the same three to two to one spritz ratio balances out the sweeter Limoncello. Described as “sunshine in a glass,” cold Limoncello is also enjoyed in small doses as a post-dinner digestivo.

4. Campari Spritz

Looking for bold and intense? Campari is calling your name. A deeper color than its Aperol counterpart, Campari boasts a slightly spiced, fruity flavor deserving of the tagline “Red Passion.” Simplicity is essential when it comes to a Campari Spritz. Three parts Prosecco, two parts Campari, and one part soda water is a foolproof recipe, best served in an ice-filled wine glass. 

5. Negroni

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The drink responsible for Stanley Tucci’s internet stardom, the Negroni is one of Italy’s most noteworthy cocktails. Synonymous with class and elegance, Café Casoni invented this Florentine sip in 1919 when Count Camilo Negroni asked for a stronger drink at the bar. Equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth with an orange garnish are the tried-and-true ratio. Though typically served on the rocks, Tucci prefers his Negroni “up” – the choice is yours.

6. Bellini

Move over Mimosa, the Bellini is the answer to your brunch prayers. This fruity crowd-pleaser calls for only two ingredients: peach puree and Prosecco. Fresh mint and fresh or frozen peaches are lovely add-ins, or you can stick to the original combo. Princess Diana had an affinity for Hotel Hassler’s Bellini rendition, which featured two raspberries floating in the flute. 

7. Americano

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Not to be confused with the popular coffee order, the Americano cocktail dates back to the original menu of Gaspare Campari’s bar. Before he drank Martinis, James Bond also hopped on the Americano train in Ian’s Fleming’s book “Casino Royale.” The Negroni’s less alcoholic cousin, equal parts Campari, Vermouth, and soda water complete a high-quality Americano beloved by “American” tourists.

8. Garibaldi

The Garibaldi is proof that excellence doesn’t call for bells and whistles. A mix of orange juice and Campari (sensing a theme here…) create this ode to Italian liberation leader Giuseppe Garibaldi. The Northern red liqueur and Southern citrus is meant to represent a unified nation. While cocktail experts recommend fresh-squeezed orange juice, bottled does just fine in a pinch. The secret is in the texture: froth the juice for a “fluffy” consistency and airy drink.

9. Puccini

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Orchestrate your own masterpiece of a cocktail with a drink named after Madame Butterfly’s composer Giacomo Puccini. Citrus of choice – mandarin oranges, tangerines or clementines — Mandarine Napoleon liqueur and Prosecco combine in a refreshing sip more diverse than a mainstream Mimosa. Muddled or hand squeezed, the trick is all in the orange fruit. 

10. Rossini

The berry-based version of a Bellini, the Rossini is a dessert-like cocktail perfect with a bite of dark chocolate. A sweeter drink compared to bitter Campari creations and other fruity offerings, the Rossini does not shy away from “la dolce vita.” Strawberry puree, simple syrup, and Prosecco come together in this pink delight sure to steal the show of any aesthetic photo.