When Brian and I first visited Italy, we naturally sampled every delicacy and delight we could find. In a dockside bar in Bari, we asked for our first sample of  Compari. It was, to be carefully truthful, an experience. My husband, Mr. Sweetness, looked as if cardiac arrest were imminent. The look of surprise was capitalized by the pursed lips. They call Compari bitter. It is.

Last night, at the home of Italian friends our gracious host asked us if we wanted an Aperol aperitif. With Compari memories still decades old, we both said, “No.” Wiser than us, he returned with two glasses radiant with orange liquid.

“You’ll like,” he insisted. He was right.

Created in 1919 in the Veneto,  Aperol is distinguished by many things. Its marvelous orange color. A bitter but also thankfully sweet flavor from one of those still secret recipes: herbs and roots galore. And, interestingly, a very low alcohol content of only 11%. The original firm was purchased by the holding company that owns Campari. The firm’s spectrum of flavors could not be wider.

The Aperol website is replete with many recipes using their complex flavor. Last night,  we enjoyed simplicity and sweetness. Start with this first taste, then expand your Aperol horizon.

Our host last night was celebrating birthday number 71. He follows the recipe below, then tops it off with a dash of vodka. If you want to look superb past 70, then a splash or dash should be forthcoming.


Aperol + Prosecco Cocktail

Fill a cocktail glass with ice. In the remaining volume, half fill with Aperol, and half with Prosecco [or other sweet sparkling gem like Cava]. Add a wedge of lemon or lime or orange for garnish. Sip at your leisure.