Four Simple Italian Wine Cocktails
Yes, you can mix your favorite wines into cocktails. From a savory riff on a Dirty Martini that features an Umbrian skin-contact wine to a Whiskey Sour with a float of a robust Sicilian red, here are four cocktails from bartenders around the country that feature Italian wines.
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Courtesy of Aaron Paul, beverage director, Alta Group, San Francisco
This drink is a mash-up between a sangria and the Blood and Sand, a classic cocktail usually made with Scotch, orange juice and sweet vermouth. It includes two Italian wines: Sangiovese, a red grape native to Tuscany, lends hints of cherry and violet to a brandy-based riff, while a splash of Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from the Emilia-Romagna region, adds fizz and fruit.
- 1 ounce brandy
- 1 ounce Tuscan Sangiovese-based wine
- ¾ ounce blood orange juice
- ½ ounce Cherry Heering
- ¼ ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
- ¼ ounce lime juice
- Lambrusco, to top
- Blood orange slice, for garnish
In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients except Lambrusco and garnish. Shake well, and strain into Burgundy glass. Fill glass with fresh ice, then top with splash of Lambrusco. Garnish with blood orange slice.
Courtesy of Nicholas Murray, director of beverage and food, Renaissance Hotels, Toledo, OH
Native to Sicily, the Nero d’Avola grape produces wines with a dark, robust character. It’s the right choice for this variation on the New York Sour. A float of the full-bodied red wine adds acidity and a striking ruby hue.
- 2 ounces Bulleit Rye Whiskey
- ¼ ounce orange liqueur
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 1 ounce Nero d’Avola
- Brandied cherry, for garnish
In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine first four ingredients. Shake well, and strain into rocks glass over fresh ice. Gently pour Nero d’Avola over back side of spoon to float atop drink. Garnish with brandied cherry.
Courtesy of McLain Hedges, beverage director, Morin, Denver
A complex take on the classic Dirty Martini, the surprise ingredient here is an orange wine from Umbria, a mix of Grechetto, Malvasia, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. “The wine itself is beautifully aromatic, structured, briny and a bit funky,” says Hedges. It lends depth and aromatics to the finished cocktail. “Picture sitting on the Mediterranean, snacking on sardines and olives and knocking back a few of these as an afternoon retreat,” he says.
- 1½ ounces Hendricks Gin
- 1 ounce Paolo Bea Santa Chiara
- ¼ ounce olive brine
- 4 dashes blanc rhum agricole
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- Pickles and pickled vegetables, for garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnish in mixing glass filled with ice. Stir well, and strain into stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with pickles and pickled vegetables.
Courtesy of George Hock, beverage director, i Trulli, New York City
This drink is adapted from an early 1900s classic that traditionally uses Sherry. Here, it showcases Vernaccia di Oristano, a white grape from the island of Sardinia that’s fortified and oxidized to yield a slightly savory sipper. The restaurant batches the cocktail in six-liter barrels, but the following recipe makes a single drink.
- Alpe Genepy Herbetet
- 1 ounce London dry gin
- 1 ounce Vernaccia di Oristano
- 1 ounce Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
- Lemon peel, for garnish
Spritz or rinse double Old Fashioned glass with genepy. In mixing glass filled with ice, stir remaining ingredients. Strain into prepared glass over large ice cube. Garnish with lemon peel.
- 1Lambrusco Sangria
- 2Whiskey and Nero d’Avola Cocktail
- 3Dirty Martini with a Paolo Bea Santa Chiara Twist
- 4The Dunhill Gin Cocktail