side view of two spritz on a board with a bag of focaccia on side.
Home » Italian Drinks » Best Italian Cocktails – 15 Popular Aperitifs We Actually Drink In Italy

Best Italian Cocktails – 15 Popular Aperitifs We Actually Drink In Italy

Last updated on April 19th, 2024

Whether you are looking to try a new cocktail at home or planning your next trip to Italy, learning all about the best Italian cocktails should be top of your list. 

And if you’re already in Italy, sitting at a bar and enjoying a beautiful view – but don’t know what to order next – we have you covered.

In this article, I’ll fill you in on when Italians drink cocktails, how they toast and their favorite cocktails to make at home and order at bars. 

I will include pronunciations, a bit of history and the basics on how to prepare these cocktails.

As we say in Italy, cin cin or cheers to that!

When Italians Drink Cocktails in Italy

frontal view street view of a cicchetti and aperitivo bar in florence with a big door and sign hanging to the left. There is a man waving inside at the camer
An Italian bar where you can get aperitivo with cicchetti

Italians drink cocktails most typically before diner as an aperitivo or after dinner. 

Beer is reserved for primarily pizza or also as a pre-dinner drink (especially in Northern Italy). 

Italians will drink a glass of prosecco or white wine as an aperitif but it’s also enjoyed throughout the meal, unlike a cocktail.

Cocktails are never consumed at the dinner table with food but rather, beforehand or after dinner. 

Fact: A cocktail in Italian is the same as it is in English: cocktail. They also use the word drink (pronounced dreenk in Italian) to mean cocktail.

Fit In: Learn How to Toast in Italian!

Listen to the Italian pronunciation of drink:

Toasting in Italian

Group of people at a table outdoors in Italy raising their glasses to toast at the center of the table.

Salute, meaning “health” is what comes to mind when we think of Italians making a toast. This is very formal and you will most often hear it at grand celebrations, weddings and holidays. You might hear alla nostra/tua/vostra salute, which is just another way of toasting to good health (either ours/yours).

Listen to the pronunciation of salute:

A more colloquial way to cheers is by saying cin cin, pronounced cheen-cheen in Italian. 

Listen to the pronunciation of cin cin:

The last phrase you might come across while in Italy is facciamo un brindisi, which means, “let’s toast” and is usually used to toast something specific.  For example, facciamo un brindisi a Claudia, che oggi si laurea! (Let’s toast to Claudio who graduated today!)

Listen to the pronunciation of facciamo un brindisi:

The most important part of toasting in Italy is the tradition of making eye contact with the person with whom you are clinking glasses. It’s considered back luck if you don’t! Learn more in our post on How to Toast in Italian.

(Aperol) Spritz

an aperol spritz in a wine glass on a wooden table outdoors with several bottles in background of juice and water

Pronounced spreetz in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of spritz:

Also known as the Spritz Veneziano in Italian, this bright orange cocktail is perhaps Italy’s most iconic cocktail made from prosecco, aperol and a splash of soda water. The word spritz in German means a splash, referring to the splash of water that the Austrians added to Italian wine during the Napoleonic wars. 

Good To Know: In Italy, you don’t need to specific Aperol Spritz. When you ask for a Spritz, they assume you want it made the classic way, with Aperol. 

The first mention of this cocktail dates back to 1805, although it has changed somewhat since its first debut. 

Although you will see Italians drinking this cocktail in every region of the peninsula, it’s most enjoyed up north in Veneto, especially in Padua, Verona and Venice. Get our step-by-step recipe for spritz here.

  • Main alcohol: Prosecco, Aperol
  • Ingredients: 2 oz Prosecco, 1 ⅓ oz Aperol, splash of soda water 
  • Preparation: Mix the Aperol with the prosecco over ice and add a splash of soda water. Mix well and serve. 
  • Served: On the rocks, garnished with half an orange slice
  • Glass: Large bell wine glass

Looking for a Non-Alcoholic Spritz Alternative? Try a Crodino Spritz or another Italian mocktail.

Foodie Experience: Sipping spritz with the locals in Padua is one of our top recommendations for indulging in Italian food culture. Read more in Italy Foodie Bucket List – 17 Amazing Italian Culinary Experiences by Region.

Campari Spritz

campari spritz in tall glass garnished with an orange on a table with snacks and napkins taken from an angle.

Pronounced cahm-pah-ree spreetz in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Campari Spritz:

Although just slightly different from the traditional Aperol Spritz, the Campari Spritz is almost as popular. Instead of Aperol, Campari is used in equal parts, giving the cocktail a rich red color instead of vibrant orange. It’s much less sweet and has a higher alcohol content than the traditional cocktail (Campari at 25% abv vs Aperol at 11% abv).

I personally prefer the Campari Spritz because it’s far less sweet. Order cocktails with a friend and do a taste test side-by-side to see which you prefer!

  • Main alcohol: Prosecco, Campari
  • Ingredients: 2 oz Prosecco, 1 ⅓ oz Campari splash of soda water 
  • Preparation: Mix the Campari with the prosecco over ice and add a splash of soda water. Mix the whole thing and serve. 
  • Served: On the rocks, garnished with half an orange slice
  • Glass: Large bell wine glass

Hugo Spritz

close up of a wine glass with a hugo spritz outdoors garnished with lime and mint

Pronounced oo-goh spreetz in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Hugo Spritz:

Yet another spin on the ever favorite Spritz made with elderflower syrup or liqueur. The Hugo Spritz is a fairly recent invention, created in the early 2000’s by Roland Gruber in South Tyrol in northern Italy. 

Elderflower grows in abundance in the Italian Alps in the Spring, which is how this cocktail came to be. Light and floral, this is a fun and creative cocktail for a change! 

  • Main alcohol: St. Germain, prosecco
  • Ingredients: 1 ounce St Germain liqueur, 3 oz Prosecco, 1 oz soda water
  • Preparation: In a wine glass filled with ice, add the st. Germain, followed by the prosecco and topped with the soda water. Mix well.
  • Serve: Over ice, garnished with fresh mint. 
  • Glass: Wine glass

Love the Hugo? You should also try the sweet and refreshing Limoncello Spritz!

Pirlo

Pronounced peer-loh in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Pirlo:

Pirlo is a version of the Spritz that is made with white wine and bitters, either Cappelletti or Campari. If you don’t like fizzy cocktails, this one’s for you!

  • Main alcohol: White wine, Cappelletti or Campari
  • Ingredients: 1 oz (1 part) Cappelletti, 3 oz (3 part) white wine
  • Preparation: Pour the white wine into the glass, followed by the cappelletti. Add the ice at the end.
  • Serve: Over ice, garnished with an orange peel
  • Glass: Balloon glass

Negroni

side view of negroni on a wooden table on a porch with greenery in background and sunset

Pronounced neh-groh-nee in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Negroni:

The Negroni is one of Italy’s most popular cocktails that has gained traction all over the world. Made from 1 ounce each of gin, Campari, and red vermouth and served over ice, this is a bitter cocktail you can slowly sip on and never get tired of!

  • Main alcohol: Campari, vermouth, gin
  • Ingredients: 1 oz (1 part) Campari, 1 oz (1 part) Gin, 1 oz (1 part) Sweet red Vermouth
  • Preparation: mix ingredients and pour over ice. Garnish with orange peel
  • Served: On the rocks, garnished with orange peel or orange slice
  • Glass: Old Fashioned glass

Make It: Learn How To Make A Campari Negroni – Recipe + How To Serve It with our full guide!

Negroni Sbagliato

side view of two glasses on a marble board outdoors with a negroni sbagliato and a twist of orange

Pronounced neh-groh-nee sbahl-yah-toh in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Negroni Sbagliato:

Sbagliato means “wrong” or “mistake” and that is exactly how this variation of a Negroni was created. Back in the 1980’s, Mirko Stocchetti of Bar Basso in Milan was making a Negroni but he accidentally added sparkling white wine instead of gin. And ecco, the cocktail was born! 

  • Main Alcohol: Prosecco, Campari, vermouth
  • Ingredients: 1 oz (1 part) Campari, 1 oz (1 part) Prosecco, 1 oz (1 part) Sweet red Vermouth
  • Preparation: Mix ingredients and pour over ice. Garnish with orange peel
  • Served: On the rocks, garnished with orange peel
  • Glass: Old-fashioned glass

Make It: Learn How to Make a Negroni with Prosecco (Negroni Sbaliato).

Campari Soda

Pronounced cahm-pah-ree soh-dah in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Campari Soda:

As known as Campari Seltz in Italian, this is a simple cocktail made from Campari bitters and soda water, most commonly enjoyed as an aperitif before dinner. 

This cocktail was created in 1915 by Davide Campari in Milan. It soon gained popularity and is today a favorite among Italians, especially during the summer.

Main Alcohol: Campari

  • Ingredients: 1 oz (1 part) Campari, 3 oz (3 part) soda water
  • Preparation: Add Campari to a flute or old-fashioned glass over ice and then add the soda water. Garnish with an orange slice.
  • Served: On the rocks, garnished with a slice of orange
  • Glass: Flute or old-fashioned glass

Americano

side view of a short old-fashiond glass filled with dark red americano cocktail with ice and garnished with an orange peel on a stone ledge with greenery and blue sky in background

Pronounced ah-mer-ee-cah-noh in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Americano:

Despite its name, Americano, this cocktail is far from being American. Rather, it’s said to have been invented at Gaspare Campari’s bar in Milan in the 1860’s. Today, it’s known as the Americano but it was first called the Milano-Torino, a reference to the origins of the two main ingredients: Campari from Milan and Vermouth from Turin. 

Fact: Today, the Milano-Torino is a different cocktail, made the same as an Americano but without the soda water.

  • Main alcohol: Campari, vermouth
  • Ingredients: 1 oz (1 part) Campari, 1 oz (1 part) red Vermouth, soda water,
  • Preparation: Pour equal parts Campari and vermouth over ice, add a splash of soda water and garnish with an orange slice
  • Serve: Over ice, garnished with an orange slice or a twist of lemon
  • Glass: Old-fashioned glass

Bombardino

Pronounced bohm-bar-dee-noh in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Bombardino:

A Bombardino is the iconic drink you will see in Italian mountains whether you are at a ski resort high in the sky or pursuing in the downtown foothills. 

This warm, rich cocktail is Italy’s version of eggnog made from brandy, VOV egg liqueur, whipped cream and sometimes topped with cinnamon. 

If you are going to order any aprés ski cocktail in the Italian alps, this is it!

  • Main alcohol: Brandy, Vov
  • Ingredients: 1 part brandy or whisky, 2 parts VOV, whipped cream, and cinnamon.
  • Preparation: Warm the egg liqueur and add the brandy. Pour into a glass, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon (optional)
  • Serve: Finished with whipped cream and dusted with cinnamon
  • Glass: Glass mug

Garibaldi

Pronounced gahr-ee-bahl-dee in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Garibaldi:

Named after Giuseppe Garibaldi — one of Italy’s founding fathers, the Gar made with Campari and orange juice. The two ingredients symbolize the unification of the north and south. The red is an ode to Garibaldi’s famous red jacket and the oranges are a reference to Sicily. 

Today, you will also see this cocktail made with aranciata, a type of slightly sweet orange soda, similar to Orangina. I personally like this version made with aranciata because it has a bit of fizz to it. 

  • Main alcohol: Campari
  • Ingredients: 1 ½ oz Campari; 4 oz orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
  • Preparation: Fill glass with ice, add the Campari and orange juice and mix well. and top it with orange juice.
  • Serve: On the rocks, garnished with orange peel
  • Glass: Old-fashioned glass

Angelo Azzurro

side view close up of angolo azzurro on a marble table outdoors

Pronounced an-geh-loh ahz-zoor-roh in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Angelo Azzurro:

Translating to “blue angel”, Angelo Azzurro is a bright blue cocktail made with gin, triple sec (Cointreau), and blue curaçao, a bright blue orange-flavored liqueur from Latin America.

The Angelo Azzuro isn’t nearly as popular as it was in the 1990’s when you would see it everywhere, especially in Rome where it originated. 

Good to Know: Angelo Azzuro is very sweet with a high alcohol content!

  • Main alcohol: Prosecco
  • Ingredients: 3 oz gin, 1 ½ oz triple sec (Cointreau), ½ oz Blue curaçao
  • Preparation: Pour all the ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and mix well. Strain and serve. 
  • Serve: Garnished with a twist of lemon
  • Glass: Martini glass

Bellini

side view of hand holding a bellini behind a blue door with a metal ring on the left side of the door

Pronounced behl-lee-nee in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Bellini:

Bellini is a classic Italian cocktail made traditionally with 2 parts Prosecco and 1 part white peach purée. Nowadays you will also see it made with regular peaches as well.

The cocktail first appeared on the scene in Venice at Giuseppe Cipriani’s restaurant, Harry’s Bar in the 1930’s. The cocktail was named after one of Cipriani’s favorite artists, Giovanni Bellini. 

  • Main alcohol: Prosecco
  • Ingredients: 2 oz (1 part) fresh peach purée, 4 oz (2 parts) Prosecco
  • Preparation: Pour peach puree into chilled flute and add Prosecco.
  • Serve: Garnished with a peach slice
  • Glass: Champagne flute

Rossini

close up of two flute glasses with red rossini cocktail on a marble table outdoors with green in the background

Pronounced rose-see-nee in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Rossini:

A Rossini is a simple and elegant Italian cocktail similar to a Bellini but made with prosecco and puréed strawberries, giving it a fun, bright color, 

This cocktail, a favorite for pre or post-dinner cocktails, is named after the famed 19th century Italian composer Gioachino Rossini in reference to his effervescent music (the prosecco being the effervescent element of the cocktail).  

  • Main alcohol: Prosecco
  • Ingredients: 1 oz (1 part) puréed frozen or fresh strawberries, 3 oz (3 part) prosecco
  • Preparation: Pour the strawberry purée into a champagne flute, top with prosecco and served with a strawberry slice garnish.
  • Served: Garnished with a strawberry slice
  • Glass: Champagne flute

Puccini

Pronounced pooch-chee-nee in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of Puccini:

Puccini, while not as popular as some of the other Italian cocktails, cannot be excluded. It’s a riff on the classic bellini, named for the famous Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini and made with mandarin orange juice in place of peach purée. 

  • Main alcohol: Prosecco
  • Ingredients:  1 oz freshly squeezed mandarin juice, 3 oz Prosecco.
  • Preparation: Squeeze the mandarin juice into a flute and add the prosecco.
  • Glass: Champagne flute

Bonus: Vin Brulé

Pronounced veen broo-LEH in Italian. 

Listen to the pronunciation of Vin Brulé:

Vin brulé or mulled wine is considered by some a cocktail but by others more of a type of wine. Some versions are made with regional liqueurs and spirits in addition to wine, making it by definition a cocktail. Mulled wine is believed to be an ancient tradition, predating the Romans and Greeks. 

Vin Brulé is a warm, spiced red wine served in Italy most traditionally during the Christmas season. You will often see it at Christmas markets and local fairs starting in December, especially in the mountains. 

It’s made by warming red wine with sugar or honey, spices such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, orange and sometimes local spirits. 

  • Main alcohol: Red wine
  • Ingredients: Red wine, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and orange
  • Preparation: Dissolve the sugar or honey in the red wine seasoned with whole cloves, star anise cinnamon sticks and orange peel over low heat. Simmer gently and strain.
  • Served: Serve hot in a mug 
  • Glass: Ceramic mug

Best Italian Cocktails FAQ

What is the most popular cocktail in Italy?

The Aperol Spritz also known as the Spritz Veneziano is Italy’s most popular cocktail made from prosecco, Aperol and soda water. 

What is a popular Italian cocktail?

The most famous Italian cocktails are Spritz, Negroni, Americano and Bellini

What is the cocktail before dinner in Italy?

You will see most Italians enjoying some variation of the Spritz (either Campari, Hugo, Pirloor the original Aperol). Italians also enjoy Negronis.

What is Italy famous for alcohol?

Italy is most famous for their bitters (Campari, Aperol, Cynar), vermouth and digestives such as sambuca, amaro, grappa and limoncello.

What do Italians drink while eating?

Italians typically drink wine with their food. Beer is reserved for pizza and cocktails are always enjoyed before or after dinner.