Inventive flavours and a preference for local distilleries make Italy a must-visit for cocktail enthusiasts. So if you’re on the hunt for an authentic Negroni, or just looking to add to your drinks repertoire, now’s the time to start sipping on our cocktail guide to Italy.
Negroni in Florence, Tuscany
One part gin, one part vermouth rosso, one part Campari, all parts delicious
The ruby-red Negroni came into being in Florence in 1919, when Count Camillo Negroni became the human embodiment of ‘go big or go home’ and asked a bartender to make his favourite cocktail even stronger by substituting soda water with gin. The Count survived his foray into mixology and Italy had a new favourite cocktail. One part gin, one part vermouth rosso and one part Campari; the Negroni has an extremely dry, almost bitter flavour that takes a while to get used to, yet will quickly having you demanding another. Travellers with adventurous palettes will adore Rasputin in the Oltrarno neighbourhood of Florence – a darkly atmospheric speakeasy with an extensive menu of traditional and reinvented cocktails. Or if you prefer a lighter, more scenic setting, check out the rooftop bar at Continentale, overlooking the Ponte Vecchio bridge.
Bombardino in Turin, Piedmont
Hit the slopes and then hit the bar to warm up with a creamy Bombardino
According to international travellers, Turin is the best place for skiing in Italy, and if you’re going to hit the slopes, you’ll want to hit the bar afterwards for something suitably indulgent and cosy. Enter the Bombardino – a creamy, festive, and piping hot cocktail that will drive the chill from your bones and the pink back into your cheeks. One part brandy and one part advocaat or eggnog, Bombardinos often come topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa. It’s hard to think of a more suitable concoction to curl up with and watch snow swirl past the window. Rifugio Mulino di Laval has a well-stocked bar and offers quick access to the cross-country slopes around Pragelato.
Bellini in Venice, Veneto
Sip on a Bellini while watching the sunrise, or set, over Venice's canals
This smooth white peach and sparkling wine cocktail started out as a seasonal treat at Harry’s Bar in Venice. Within a few years however, Bellinis had caught on internationally and today they are a staple of bunch spots the world over. The traditional Italian recipe includes marinating the peaches in sparkling wine before pureeing, so sip a Bellini in the city of it’s birth while watching the sunset over glittering waterways, for an unbeatable drinking experience. Thanks to its popularity as a tourist destination, Venice’s most popular cocktail bars are often attached to hotels. Highlights include the LondraBar at Hotel Londra Palace, Villa Laguna, Bar Longhi at The Gritti Palace and Terrazza Danieli (which recently provided the backdrop for James Bond film Spectre).
G&T in Rome, Lazio
Visit The Gin Corner, the first bar in Italy to only serve gin-based cocktails
The Gin & Tonic may have started out as an English concoction, but the last decade has seen Rome develop a much deserved-reputation for craft cocktails. Speakeasies and gin bars are popping up throughout the Trastevere and Pigneto neighbourhoods, with many clever twists on prohibition-era ‘bathtub gin’ and unusual garnishes for traditional G&Ts such as lavender and raspberries. The Gin Corner was the first bar in Italy to devote itself entirely to gin, with a selection of seasonal drinks by famed mixologist Patrick Pistolesi. Based in the stylish Hotel Adriano, this bar has quickly become a social spot for gin lovers, although it’s worth venturing out to Co.So. Cocktail & Social, an atmospheric bar with an ever-changing cocktail menu.
Puccini in Cortina, Veneto
Try a different kind of brunch and order a mandarin Puccini
Traditionally seen as the “Winter Bellini”, the Puccini cocktail was developed by mixologist Renato Haussmann and soon became a year-round favourite. Swapping the white peach puree of the Bellini with mandarin juice gives the Puccini a tartness that contrasts well with sweeter sparkling wines. The main ingredient of a Puccini is Prosecco and Cortina is the ideal location to start sampling as it’s located close to the west of the Isarco valley – a world renowned wine-growing region that takes justifiable pride in the quality of its Prosecco. Just as the Bellini has become a brunch staple, the Puccini is best enjoyed as a midday addition. Haussmann was working the bar at Hotel De La Poste when he invented the Puccini, and it continues to be the house cocktail to this very day.