Be Creative: Discovering Delicious Recipes Made with Aperol
This post was written in collaboration with 1xCorp N.V
Explore more ways to enjoy this beloved bittersweet liqueur beyond the popular Aperol Spritz. Italians have been savoring its citrusy bitterness for years, and now you can too.
In 1919, Aperol was introduced by the Barbieri brothers at the Padua International Fair in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. Aperitivo hour was already popular in the region, and new refreshing drinks were being introduced. Aperol became a hit at the fair because of its appealing citrus-sweet taste and bright orange color.
The Aperol Spritz, a trendy aperitivo in Europe, was invented in the 1950s
It became hugely popular and made Aperol the top-selling spirit in Italy. However, the drink didn’t become popular in the US until much later. Nonetheless, it has gained popularity in recent years.
Aperol is a great way to ease into the world of bitter liqueurs
It is milder in taste compared to other red bitter liquors such as Campari. Its alcohol content is low at 11% ABV and has hints of citrus. Aperol also has the aromatic flavors of gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona, which make it an excellent mixer for cocktails beyond just the Spritz.
It’s evident that the popularity of Aperol Spritzes stems from the fizzy bubbles that enhance the flavor of this vibrant orange-red aperitivo. Nevertheless, Aperol’s bitter and sweet botanicals blend well with an array of base liquors, such as gin, mezcal, bourbon, rum, and more. Hence, below is a list of 11 enticing cocktails that can be made using Aperol.
The Paper Plane is a cocktail created by Sam Ross for the opening menu of The Violet Hour in Chicago in 2008. It is a modern take on the Last Word cocktail, which contains gin, lime, maraschino liqueur, and green Chartreuse. The Paper Plane also follows the equal-parts recipe but uses bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, and lemon juice instead. It was named after the hit song “Paper Plane” by M.I.A and is garnished with a small paper plane.
The Aperol Spritz, a mixture of Aperol, club soda, and prosecco, is a famous cocktail that originated in Italy and has been enjoyed there for more than a hundred years. It became famous worldwide much later, and only gained mass popularity in the United States in the mid-2000s. This drink is usually served over ice with an orange slice as a garnish, or a Cerignola olive for those who prefer the Venetian style. The three-ingredient spritz is a classic aperitivo in Italy.
Naked & Famous
Created by Joaquín Simó while bartending at Death & Co. in New York City, this cocktail is a variation of the Last Word and draws inspiration from the Paper Plane cocktail by Ross. It contains equal parts Aperol and smoky mezcal, along with Yellow Chartreuse and lime juice for a well-balanced, grassy flavor, and is often drunk by players in online casinos and in the rush of gambling visit to catch their luck.
The Kanye West is a cocktail made by Jeff Steiner, a bartender from Seattle. It blends the flavors of a Shandy and an Aperol Spritz, with Rainier Beer as the main ingredient instead of wine and club soda. The drink is named after Rainier Beer, not after the rapper Kanye West. Lemon juice is added to give it a touch of acidity, like a Shandy. Angostura bitters are added to make the cocktail more sophisticated. Give it a try if you’re looking for a twist on your usual pre-dinner drink.
Sauvignon Blanc Punch
This wine punch recipe by Alex Day from Death & Co is perfect for serving a crowd as it can be easily batched. The refreshing and herbaceous drink is based on white wine, preferably a dry sauvignon blanc. Aperol, citrus juices, and a dash of simple syrup are added to balance the flavors. To add some fizz, the punch is topped with club soda. The use of wine instead of spirits makes this drink lower in alcohol.
This sangria variation mainly uses red wine. However, it also has tangy kombucha and bittersweet Aperol to make it more acidic. The recipe can be easily made in a large quantity, and it has a lower alcohol content. You can experiment with various kombucha brands and flavors to see which suits your taste preference in terms of sweetness level and flavor profile.
For several years, The Tides Beach Club in Kenneb that combines gin, Aperol, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and club soda. It’s the perfect drink to have after a day at the beach. Bar manager Ben Lohnes recommends using a less botanical gin like Maine’s Batson River gin to bring out the flavor of the Aperol.
Bartender Brandon Lockman from Red Star Tavern in Portland, Oregon created a variation of Aperol Spritz. He adds fresh strawberries to Aperol and combines it with Lillet Blanc. Rhubarb bitters are also included to highlight the rhubarb taste in Aperol. To add aroma, an absinthe-rinsed glass is used, and the bubbly spritz is completed with a sparkling wine topper.
The Dub Treo cocktail uses the Negroni template of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, but changes the ingredients and proportions. It swaps out gin for Appleton Estate Reserve Rum and Campari for Aperol. It also requires a specific sweet vermouth called Carpano Antica Formula. With a dash of whiskey barrel-aged bitters and an orange twist garnish, the drink is sweeter and less bitter than a Negroni. It has notes of tropical fruit, citrus, and gentian botanicals.
Nashville bartender Ben Clemons has created a cocktail using only three ingredients. The ingredients are classic London dry gin, Aperol infused with strawberries, and Stiegl-Radler, a grapefruit beer. The gin has a dry and botanical flavor while the Aperol has a fresh taste of berries. The addition of the low-ABV grapefruit beer creates a beautiful red-colored drink that is easy to drink. This cocktail is perfect for those who like to crush their drinks.
The Division Bell is a cocktail created by Phil Ward, a veteran bartender who featured it on the opening menu of the now-closed Mayahuel in New York City’s East Village. The cocktail was named after the Pink Floyd album that was played repeatedly while Ward was building the bar. Although the Division Bell does not have the same equal-parts measurements as the Last Word, it contains the same maraschino liqueur and lime juice, but uses mezcal instead of gin and Aperol instead of green Chartreuse.
The Division Bell, which is a Last Word riff made by experienced bartender Phil Ward, uses agave and Aperol and was one of the earliest cocktails to popularize mezcal in the United States.
In 2009, Ward and Ravi DeRossi opened Mayahuel in New York City’s East Village. At that time, most Americans associated agave spirits with Margaritas. Before opening Mayahuel, Ward had been experimenting with agave-spirit cocktails at Death & Co., located nearby. In 2007, he created the Oaxaca Old Fashioned, which used a split base of reposado tequila and mezcal instead of bourbon. Ward chose to solely focus on agave when he opened his own establishment. He included 20 tequila and mezcal drinks on the first menu, including the Division Bell, which is named after the Pink Floyd album that Ward listened to repeatedly while constructing the bar.
In the early aughts, a Seattle bartender named Murray Stenson discovered the recipe for The Last Word, a classic cocktail made of gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice. The drink was created at the Detroit Athletic Club in 1915 but had been forgotten until Stenson brought it back into the spotlight. Since then, many variations of the pre-Prohibition classic have been inspired by The Last Word.
Some well-known cocktails include the Paper Plane, which has equal amounts of bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino Quintessia, and lemon juice, and the Division Bell, which uses lime juice and maraschino liqueur but switches gin for mezcal and Aperol for green Chartreuse. The Naked & Famous, created by Joaquín Simó at Death & Co., uses equal parts mezcal, Aperol, yellow Chartreuse, and lime juice.
Both drinks have similarities on paper, but they differ in their approach to using their parent drink. The Naked & Famous replaces the original maraschino liqueur with Aperol, whereas the Division Bell substitutes Chartreuse with orange bitter liqueur, resulting in two unique and distinct flavor profiles.
To make Ward’s cocktail, you can use any espadín mezcal with fruity and smoky notes if you don’t have Del Maguey Vida. The other ingredients are lime juice, maraschino liqueur, and Aperol, which adds bitter and citrusy flavors. Although it doesn’t have the same easy-to-remember formula as the drink that inspired it, it’s a modern classic that’s definitely worth memorizing.