How to Mix Italian Cocktails to Perfection

The word “cocktail” was first used in a British newspaper over 200 years ago, but Italy quickly picked up the baton and ran a mile with it. The Martini, the Bellini, the Americano (invented in Milan, not the US, and said to have gotten its name in the early 1900s when Italians saw so many Americans enjoying it) are just a small selection of the iconic drinks Italy’s contributed to the slick and stylish world of mixology. Florence, Turin and Milan deserve their place in the history of cocktails just as much as, say, Chicago or New York – vermouth, for example, was invented in Turin’s surrounding region of Piedmont. Even today the Italian practice of aperitivo – drinks with a buffet at a bar or restaurant, and one of Italy’s most popular ways to start off a night – has the cocktail right at its heart.

For finding that extra-elegant edge, no one does it better than Italians – so if you’re looking to host a cocktail party inspired by all the sophistication that Italy brings to the genre, take a look at these drinks for a little inspiration.

Negroni Sbagliato

The Negroni Sbagliato is a variant on one of Florence’s most famous concoctions, the original Negroni. It’s said that the Negroni was invented in the early 20th century, and was named for the Italian count Camillo Negroni, who reportedly would always order the drink when visiting his favourite café.  Negroni is a classic among Italian cocktails, made with gin, Campari and vermouth (often sweet). Negroni can be a little heavy-going at times, and Sbagliato softens its punch by swapping gin out for sparkling white wine, usually prosecco.

The legend goes that Sbagliato – which in Italian means “mistaken” – was invented when a Milanese bartender accidentally picked up a bottle of sparkling wine instead of gin when mixing a Negroni. Like all the tales that accumulate around a cocktail, that should be taken with a pinch of salt – but one thing we can say for sure is that the Sbagliato makes for a light yet sophisticated drink, ideal for a party or drinks with friends. Here’s how to make the perfect Sbagliato.


4 parts. Prosecco

1 part. sweet vermouth

1 part. Campari

Lime wheel


Pour the prosecco into an ice-filled tumbler. Add the Campari and the vermouth and stir gently. Add the lime wheel to garnish.

Aperol Spritz

The Aperol liqueur was first unveiled in 1919 in Padua, but it was only after the Second World War that it started to see the enormous popularity it enjoys today, with young people in particular partaking of the famed social drink. The Spritz comes from a nineteenth century tradition, introduced by the Austrians, of watering down strong Italian white wines with soda water. Aperol was later added to the wine and soda, introducing a slightly bitter twist with hints of citrus, rhubarb and gentian root. With a low alcohol content, the Aperol Spritz makes for a great aperitivo, and is considered one of the lightest of Italian cocktails. Here’s Diforti’s own recipe for mixing a good Aperol Spritz.


6 parts Prosecco

4 part Aperol

1 part soda water

1 part orange juice

Orange peel


Add the Prosecco, Aperol, soda water and the orange juice to a wine glass and stir well. Add ice and serve – a black straw is traditional. Add orange peel to garnish.

To get that stylish Italian spin for your cocktail party, visit Diforti’s Italian food shop – with our selection of Prosecco, gin, Campari and vermouth we have everything you’ll need to impress your guests and start your mixology career with aplomb. Make it easy for yourself with our Aperol Spritz or Negroni cocktail kits, and you’ll find your gathering going as swimmingly and stylishly as if you were in Florence itself.


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