Food & Drinks

Aperitivo Was Made for Summer

If you feel like everyone you know is somehow vacationing in Italy this summer, you’re not alone. Social media feeds are flooded with friends, acquaintances and coworkers walking along cobblestone streets, soaking up vitamin D along the Riviera and enjoying chilled pours of countless aperitivos. While it’s easy to tell ourselves that we need the Mediterranean coast in sight to enjoy an herbal amaro or crisp spritz, that’s just our FOMO speaking. Italians know how to do summer right, and MARTINI & ROSSI® helps bring that ethos into your home, so you can make the most of the season’s golden days, regardless of your location. 

“For me, summer drinking is all about simplicity,” says Ruby Wilson, West Coast MARTINI & ROSSI ambassador. “I want the least amount of effort so I can maximize my time in the sun with friends and family.” Lower-ABV spritzes or a vermouth and soda—Wilson recommends mixing MARTINI & ROSSI Riserva Ambrato with soda water and lime zest, served in a highball glass with lots of ice and citrus—make for an easy daytime cocktail, while a classic Negroni is a perfect drink for a pre-meal cocktail hour. “MARTINI & ROSSI brings a light, easy, low-proof (or no-proof) option to any summer bar,” Wilson says. “And it’s all about the long game. If you can enjoy more light, refreshing drinks over multiple hours, you can truly soak up all that the season has to offer.”  

So, uncover the grill, dust off your favorite cocktail glasses, and start ironing out the invite list for your own aperitivo summertime celebrations. Planning doesn’t have to be a headache or formal; it just requires a little bit of organization. Once you have a location and menu in mind, everything else will fall into place. 

If you’re looking for a drink that’s a perfect combination of a refreshingly minimal, low-ABV, Italian classic and a layered, higher-octane, tropical drink, look no further than aperitiki. The newer genre of aperitivo, which began to make a stir on social media in the early 2010s, focuses on pairing Italian vermouths or bitters, such as MARTINI & ROSSI Rosso or Fiero, with rum and punchy fruits (think pineapple, lime and orange). Nick Amano-Dolan, general manager at a San Francisco craft cocktail bar known for its seasonally rotating menu, loves the cocktail category and its versatility. “I’m such a huge fan of the low/no-ABV movement, so I’m in full support of new cocktail categories to swap in vermouths and other aperitivos,” he says. “Show me someone that doesn’t want to drink a Fiero Colada or Margarita in the dead of summer, and I’ll show you a liar.”

Nick Amano-Dolan’s Top 5 Tips for Easy Entertaining:
  1. Work smarter, not harder. Don’t be that bartender sweating behind the bar at a party because you decided you wanted to make egg white cocktails for your friends. Stick with simpler cocktail families, like highballs and spritzes. Also, a Paloma never fails. 
  2. Use seasonal fruit for infusions. Hit your local farmers market in the summer and find some fruit to throw into your spirit of choice. Most infusions take at least 24 hours. After the fruit has rested in the spirit for about a day, taste the mixture occasionally, continuing to infuse the spirit until it tastes right.
  3. Cool drinking vessels or garnishes can really make a good cocktail great. If you’re questioning how good your drink is, just find the right cup or garnish, and that’s all anyone will remember.
  4. If you’re looking to turn a single-serve cocktail into a batch quantity for easy serving, just turn your ounce quantities into cups. It’s a super simple hack to scale up any cocktail.
  5. Don’t worry about having an official or fancy bar setup. As long as you’ve got ice and booze, you’re good to go.

MARTINI & ROSSI Fiero Margarita, the Padrino and Fiero & Flavored Seltzer are three aperitiki cocktails that any summer party guest will love. The Fiero Margarita combines the expected blanco tequila, fresh lime juice and simple syrup with MARTINI & ROSSI Fiero, a bittersweet orange vermouth. “The bright pink color and the blast of orange screams outdoor summer drinking,” Wilson says. Next, the Padrino is a tiki twist on the classic Godfather cocktail. With a mix of Bacardí Ocho, MARTINI & ROSSI Riserva Speciale Bitter, and MARTINI & ROSSI Riserva Speciale Rubino, it’s perfect for any fan of bitters. Finally, the Fiero & Flavored Seltzer will be the go-to for any guest who loves something simple and customizable. Just mix MARTINI & ROSSI Fiero with their favorite fruit-flavored soda water and you’ll be set. 

Once the cocktail menu is set, you can move on to the food—and nothing screams summer more than a barbecue. Traditional smoked meats, including brisket, pork shoulder and ribs, are easy crowd-pleasers but can require some serious (yet necessary) prep. “When it comes to good smoked meat, it’s all about timing and preparation,” says Shelby Butler, a manager at Wright’s Barbecue in Arkansas. A great brisket can take more than 16 hours, and a great pork shoulder 10-plus hours, he explains, so you need to know what you’re signing up for when you pick your meats. “Good barbecue is low and slow,” he says. “Typically, the longer it takes, the better it is going to be.” For seasoning, Butler recommends a half-and-half blend of salt and pepper for brisket and your favorite meat rub for any ribs or pork shoulder. The temperature should hang around 225°F to 250°F at all times, and once that meat is put on the heat, don’t touch it. “All you have to do while it cooks is keep the fire at the right temp and keep things moist,” Butler says. To maintain moisture, spritz the meat with apple cider vinegar from a spray bottle as needed. When gauging the meat’s doneness, “a good pitmaster can go off of the meat’s look and feel,” he says. “But if that’s not you, have a meat thermometer handy.” 

When it comes to pairing your drink with your plate, Dolan sees a case for different aperitivo-based pours. “I think some cocktails, like a Godfather or an Adonis, could be a total slam dunk with grilled meats and veggies because the flavor profiles complement really nicely,” he says. “On the flip side, having a lighter, spritzy and bubbly cocktail to cut through the richness and fat of grilled meats could also be fantastic.” One thing he knows for sure? “If I’m on the grill during the summer heat, I definitely want a nice crisp, bubbly, aperitif-style cocktail. Put one in my hand and I’m happy.”

To find additional inspiration for an aperitivo hour, learn more about MARTINI & ROSSI, and explore more of the MARTINI & ROSSI offerings, visit

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