Cocktail Recipes

Negronis for the Homies

Happy Negroni Week! This charity event put on by Imbibe Magazine and Campari is raising money for Independent Restaurants affected by Covid-19. Even though our virtual classes for Negroni Week are already wrapped up, you can still grab the recipes we made on Monday and Tuesday for everything from the classic to something a little more funky!

The Original Negroni

The Negroni was originally created in 1919 Florence, Italy. Legend has it that Count Castillo Negroni asked his favorite bartender to make a stronger version of the popular Americano cocktail, a highball of Campari and vermouth topped with soda water and a lemon peel. The bartender chose to substitute gin for the soda water, creating a higher proof, boozy cocktail that because one of the most popular drinks of all time.

1 oz Gin

1oz Campari

1 oz Sweet vermouth

Orange Peel

  1. Combine gin, sweet vermouth, and campari into mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir well until chilled. Strain over ice into new glass.
  3. Peel orange. Hold peel 2-6 inches above cocktail, gently gripping the peel on either side with pointer finger and thumb. Pinch, skin-side down, to express citrus oil over the top of the cocktail and gently rub skin-side of the peel over the lip of glass. Drop peel in drink and enjoy!

Negroni Spagliato

The Negroni Spagliato is Italy’s lesser known classic version of this cocktail. It Closely replicates the original Americano by using something bubbly in place of the gin, only this time with Prosecco wine instead of soda water. Feel free to switch this classic up using a dry vermouth instead of sweet, or a rosé sparkling instead of Prosecco.

1 oz Campari

1 oz Strawberry Infused Sweet Vermouth

1 1/2 oz Prosecco

  1. Combine Campari, vermouth, and Prosecco in a cocktail mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir well, about 30 seconds.
  3. Strain over icee into a rocks glass. Top with more Prosecco as desired. Garnish with an orange peel and enjoy!

Heiress of Wisdom

The Heiress of Wisdom is the creation of memphis bartender and my friend, Eric Martin. This tequila negroni is my favorite drink to enjoy after a long restaurant shift. Lighter and more complex that the original, this tequila forward negroni doesn’t use any of the original ingredients, but it does have the same structure: stirred and boozy using a hard spirit, Italian bitter, and a bottled sugar.

1 oz Reposado tequila

1 oz Amontillado Sherry

1 oz Cappelletti

Lemon peel x2

  1. Combine tequila, sherry, cappelletti, and one lemon peel into mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir well until chilled. Strain over ice into new glass.
  3. Peel another slice of lemon. Hold peel 2-6 inches above cocktail, gently gripping the peel on either side with pointer finger and thumb. Pinch, skin-side down, to express citrus oil over the top of the cocktail and gently rub skin-side of the peel over the lip of glass. Drop peel in drink and enjoy!

*Strawberry-Infused Sweet Vermouth

1 cup Sweet Vermouth

1 ½ cup Strawberries, sliced

  1. Cut strawberries into quarters. If using frozen strawberries, thaw before adding to vermouth.
  2. Add strawberries and vermouth to glass container and allow to rest in a cool, dry place outside of direct sunlight for 6 hours.
  3. Check to see if vermouth has imparted strong strawberry flavor. If you wish for more intense flavor, return lid and allow to sit for 2-6 more hours.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard solids. Keep chilled for up to two weeks.

Negroni Sour

A negroni is almost always a stirred drink that is very spirit heavy—but it doesn’t have to be that way! If you prefer a frothy, creamy sour, you can still enjoy a negroni. This egg white sour can also be made with aquafaba, making it vegan friendly, while keeping the bittersweet profile of the classic version.

1 1/2 oz Gin

1 oz Lemon

1 oz Strawberry Infused Sweet vermouth

3/4 Cappelletti

Bar spoon Rich Simple Syrup

4 dash Orange bitters

1 Egg White (about 1 oz)

  1. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker tin without ice.
  2. Dry shake (shake without ice) very well for about 30 seconds or until foam began the stiffen in the shaker tin.
  3. Add ice. Shake again with ice for about 45 seconds.
  4. Strain into a large coupe glass. Drizzle another 1/4 oz Cappelletti over the egg white foam and garnish with an orange peel. Enjoy!

Bianca Negroni Spagliato

This white negroni riff is softer and less bitter than other versions of the classic negroni. Topped with a more generous helping of Prosecco and finished with a lemon peel, this is an ideal negroni for your new bitter lovers.

1 oz Luxardo bitter Biance

3/4 oz Lillet Blanc

1.4 oz Apricot Liqueur

4 dash orange Bitters

2-3 oz Prosecco

Lemon Peel

  1. Combine Luxardo Bitter, vermouth, liqueur, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir well until chilled, about 30 seconds.
  3. Strain into a champagne flute. Top with desired amount of Prosecco and garnish with a lemon peel. Enjoy!

Remember to enjoy Negronis this week (and the rest of your life!) and to donate to Imbibe’s Negroni Week charities now through Sunday, September 20, 2020! Support your local service industry and have a damn good drink doing it.

Cocktail Hacks

Red Italian Bitters and How to Use Them

When we think of bitters, a compact bottle of angostura or peychauds tends to come to mind before a 750mL bottle of alcohol that sits on a shelf next to our favorite gin, whiskey, and tequila. However, just as there are bottled sugars that can be used to sweeten and thicken cocktails (vermouths, liqueurs, etc.), there are also bottled bitters that can be added to a drink. While there are plenty of options when it comes to bottled bitters, I’m going to be specifically talking today about the red Italian bitters that are used to flavor Italy’s most popular drinks: the Negroni and the Aperol Spritz.

Because next week is Negroni Week, we’re going to be using a wide range of these bitters in the live classes. While Campari is the mainstay for this boozy cocktail, Aperol and Cappelletti are excellent choices for when you’re not quite up to the aggression of the original recipe. Read more below to see which red bitter is right for you!

The Original Bad Boy of the Bar: Campari

Campari is the No. 1 red bitter and the love of my life. Its bittersweet grapefruit flavor is essential to a classic Negroni, and it has been enjoyed in Italy since it was created in the 19th century. This bitter is more straightforward than the other two bottles on this list making it an excellent choice for citrusy cocktails that feature heavier, house-made syrups. The complexity of this spirit means it plays well with others, pairing spectacularly with everything from rum to fruit juices to spics and herbs. At just 24% ABV, it makes for a damn good low-proofed cocktail.

If you’re just now getting into the world of bitter spirits, congrats! You’re already familiar with the ultimate red bitter. However, newcomers to this style can find this bottle a little astringent, the grapefruit flavor too strong on the palate to taste the other ingredients. If you’re just starting your love affair with Campari, I suggest beginning with long style drinks (cocktails that have more mixer in them than spirit) such as a Campari and Soda/Tonic or a Campari and Pineapple Juice.

Campari is a spirit that makes just about any cocktail better. Add a bar spoon to your Palomas and margaritas for a slightly bitter edge; mix it with beer for something delicious to balance the hops; shake it with lemon juice and sugar syrup or mix with soda water and oranges for a perfect low-proof before dinner cocktail. Or take a shot by itself—that’s my favorite way of drinking this Italian treat.

ABV: 24%

Tasting Notes: Grapefruit, Sweet cherry, Bitter Orange, Gentian

Cocktails to Try: Negroni, Campari Sour, Americano, Jungle Bird

The Next Runner-Up: Aperol

If you like the idea of Campari more than drinking it in practice, Aperol might be the right choice for you! This bottle lacks Campari’s characteristic grapefruit flavor, leaning heavily into orange and vanilla for a softer, slightly less dry bitter. Aperol is beautiful in a cocktail, but it truly shines in the Aperol Spritz: 2 oz Aperol poured over ice and topped with a splash of soda water and Prosecco.

Because Aperol shares so many similar flavors with Campari, it’s a great choice to substitute into traditional cocktails that can be too bitter for new drinkers. It’s also slightly lower in proof, sitting at 11% ABV, which means it’s ideal for drinking during the day or before dinner.

ABV: 11%

Tasting Notes: Orange, Vanilla, Rhubarb

Cocktails to Try: Aperol Spritz, Naked & Famous

The New Kid: Cappelletti

Okay, Cappelletti isn’t exactly new. In fact, it’s probably the oldest bitter of this style. However, because it’s a smaller brand from Haus Alpenz, it tends to be less well known to drinkers than Campari or Aperol. This low-proof bitter is one of my favorite bottles on my bar, and I often find myself reaching for it before Campari for certain drinks.

Unlike Campari or Aperol, Cappelletti is not based in grain alcohol. Rather, it is based in a blend of Pinot Bianca, Garganega, and Trebbiano wines. Because of this, it has a much richer, smoother texture than the two previous bitters. You can taste wine notes when drinking this liqueur, making it an ideal pairing for more delicate cocktails that still want an extra boost of that traditional red Italian bitter taste. This bottle is still perfect for a spritz, lending a rounded finish that you don’t get from the more traditional Aperol.

ABV: 17%

Tasting Notes: soft red fruit, fruity, sweet tones in the back, less astringent finish

Cocktails to Try: Tequila Negronis, Cappelletti & Grapefruit, Cappelletti Tom Collins

Cocktail Recipes

3 Layers of Personality

Okay, this cocktail doesn’t have seven full layers, but it does have three distinct layers of spirit. Normally when we talk about layering flavor, we’re referring to the idea that a cocktail should be dynamic with tons of different tastes. In this cocktail, we’re literally layering the different flavors on top of one another. The idea is to taste all parts in succession: The spiced angostura followed by the dry gin and vermouth sour, finished with the sweetened Campari syrup.

1 1/2 oz Blanc Vermouth

1 1/2 oz Fresh Orange Juice

1/2 oz London Dry Gin

1/2 oz Lime

1/4 oz Grenadine

Bar spoon Lemon-Grapefruit oleo

1/2 oz Campari-Ginger Syrup

3 dash Angostura

  1. Combine vermouth, orange, gin, lime, grenadine, and oleo together in a shaker tin with ice. Shake well.
  2. Fill a glass with ice. Pour the Campari syrup over the ice to sit at the bottom of the cocktail.
  3. Double strain the cocktail over the Campari syrup. Add more ice if you need to.
  4. Dash angostura over the surface of the cocktail, covering it with a layer of bitters. Finish by expressing a twist of orange over the cocktail, and enjoy!

Cocktail Lists

Crushable Cocktails

Crushable cocktails are your ideal summer drinks. They’re simple to make, don’t have too much booze, and they go down easy. These are the cocktails designed to be enjoyed in the heat of summer, sipped after a run around the block or chugged while mowing the lawn. Enjoy these three crushable cocktail recipes this August!

Campari Mama

Two Italian vermouths and a Spanish sherry come together with Campari and citrus over crushed ice to be the low proofed backyard pool party (with your pod only!) cocktail.

3/4 oz Cocchi Americano Vermouth

3/4 oz Cocchi Rosa Vermouth

3/4 oz Delicate Cream Sherry

1 1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice

2 dash Lemon Bitters

1/2 oz Campari


  1. Combine vermouths, sherry, grapefruit juice, and bitters in a cocktail shaker tin with ice. Shake well.
  2. Strain over crushed ice. Top with Prosecco and lightly swizzle with a bar spoon to mix sparkling into the cocktail.
  3. Pour Campari over the top of the cocktail and add more crushed ice.

Brunch With Garibaldi

Normally just Campari & Fresh OJ, this Garibaldi is a little softer and more tropical, splitting a pineapple & hibiscus infused Campari with Aperol. Some lemon bitters give it brightness, and a blend of peychaud’s bitter, delicate cream Sherry, and Cappelletti dropped on top make this one pumped up drink without adding too much extra booze.

1 oz Pineapple & Hibiscus infused Campari

1 oz Aperol

1/2 oz Cappelletti

1/2 oz Delicate Cream Sherry

2 oz Fresh Orange Juice

1/2 oz Lime

1/2 oz Pineapple Juice

4 dash Peychaud’s Bitters

  1. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker tin with ice. Shake well.
  2. Strain into a Collins glass with ice. Garnish with an orange slice—or just drink it without anything extra added!

98º and Sunny

I have a hard rule that when it’s over 90º outside, I drink tequila. This crushable cocktail is anything but a margarita—sfumato amaro and strawberry puree work summer cocktail wonders with Aqua di Cedro, a limoncello-esque liqueur from Nardini.  

2 oz Tequila

1/2 oz Narini Acqua Di Cedro

1/4 oz Sfumato Amaro

1/2 oz Lime

1 oz Strawberry Puree

Rosemary Sprig

  1. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker tin with ice. Shake well.
  2. Pour over ice and garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary.

Strawberry Puree

Strawberry Puree

1 cup Strawberries 

1 cup Granulated Sugar 

  1. Wash and dry strawberries. Hull the strawberries and discard tops. 
  2. Combine strawberries and sugar in a blender and process on high until all sugar has dissolved and whole berries have been completely liquified. 
  3. Pass puree through a fine sieve (I find that using a large sieve and soup ladle is much easier than a small scale cocktail fine strainer) and press out any residual juice from the solids. Discard. 
  4. Immediately store in the refrigerator. Will keep up to 10-12 days.