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I have an Italian friend who is a lovely man. And forceful.

“Drink this,” he put a glass in front of me. “You’ll like it.”

I looked at it. Strange color, not bad, just a little strange.

“Don’t look. Drink,” he insisted.

And so I discovered Aperol, the civilized alternative to Campari. They are made by the same firm but I find Campari akin to turpentine, but Aperol — when mixed 50-50 with champagne or cava or prosecco — Aperol is divine.

It’s a perfect liqueur. Perfect.

Which is why, when I saw this recipe in Experimental Cocktail Club, I was stunned. You are going to do what? Spice up a bottle of Aperol? Is that legal? Is it normal?

I don’t know, and I admit I have not done it yet. I am about to. My Italian friend is about to return from a winter in Florida. When he comes to my house, what am I going to say to him?

“Drink this.”

Madam Rêve

Yield: 1 cocktail


For the spiced Aperol:

  • 1 star anise
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2-3 cloves,
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bottle of Aperol

For the cocktail itself:

  • 1 large strawberry
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces spice-infused Aperol
  • Ice
  • Champagne to top up


To make the spice-infused Aperol, put all the spice ingredients in bottle of Aperol and leave to infuse. The longer you leave the spice it, the strong the flavor, so test from time to time and strain when you are happy.

To make the cocktail, place the strawberry in a cocktail shaker, muddle, then add the lemon juice and Aperol. Top up with ice, then shake vigorously until frost appears on the outside of the shaker. Double strain into a chilled coupette, top up with Champagne, and serve with a smile.

Source: Experimental Cocktail Club by Romée de Goriainoff, Pierre-Charles Cros, Olivier Bon, and Xavier Padovani [Mitchell Beazley, 2015]