In recent years, Aperol – the bitter Italian aperitif made from gentian, rhubarb and cinchona – has become quite fashionable among professional mixologists and amateur cocktail hobbyists alike, boosted by the perennial popularity of the famous Aperol Spritz.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with throwing together a quick spritz as your thirst-quenching summer superpower. But since you’ve already got a bottle in your liquor cabinet, why not make it go the extra mile by adding a few more Aperol cocktail recipes to your repertoire?
Here’s our top 10 list of Aperol cocktails to try out. You’re sure to find a new favourite.
Bird of Paradise
The Bird of Paradise truly lives up to its name. It’s even garnished with pineapple leaf to give the impression of a brightly coloured parrot perched on your hand.
You probably won’t be surprised, then, to hear that the Bird of Paradise cocktail is as much about rum and pineapple juice as it is the Aperol. The Italian aperitif adds just the right amount of tartness to the sweet and fruit flavours. Its refreshingly balanced tropical taste is perfect for battling the humidity on a lazy summer evening.
Unlike the Bird of Paradise, you probably won’t be able to guess what’s in a Paper Plane (other than the Aperol, of course). But the name does let you know how difficult it is to make. Hint: not very.
The Paper Plane is a simple aperitif that wouldn’t look amiss in an airport lounge during the golden age of aviation. But don’t let the pilot get their lips to one of these – they’re very boozy. It’s equal parts Aperol, bourbon, Amaro Nonino (a bittersweet aged Grappa infused with roots and herbs), and fresh lemon juice. A couple of those and you’ll be flying.
The Ten Spot is the Aperol cocktail for gin lovers. Think of it as a poolside alternative for when it’s too early in the day for Martinis.
It was created by John Walter at Seattle’s Outlier bar and gets its name from being based on Tanqueray No. 10 – Tanqueray’s premium small-batch gin crafted specifically for Martinis. It’s also pairs well with a splash of Aperol and citrus juices, but hey, nobody’s stopping you from using your own gin of choice. Your house, your rules.
Like the Bird of Paradise, the Maya Bay is all about indulging in sweet, refreshing flavours while sunning yourself at the beach. This time, however, it’s with more of a Mexican twist than a Caribbean one.
The Maya Bay cocktail uses Playa Real Mandarin tequila as its base, complemented with fresh lime juice and agave syrup, then rounded off with a dash of – what else? – Aperol. The end result is a spectacular orange that screams summer.
You might get the reference, but will you get what’s in it? The Division Bell was Pink Floyd’s 14th studio album. This Aperol cocktail isn’t pink, but orange. However, if there’s one thing to be learned from the name of this cocktail, it’s that there’s nothing obvious about it.
According to Phil Ward, the bartender at Mayahuel in New York, the name came about as a result of listening to a lot of Pink Floyd while building the recently defunct Mayahuel tequila and mezcal bar in New York’s East Village. Because what else are you going to call a blend of mezcal, Aperol, maraschino and lime? Sure, the trailblazing bar may have closed, but that’s no reason not to enjoy one of its signatures – and most delicious – cocktails.
D. B. Cooper
Here’s another Aperol cocktail that wouldn’t look out of place in the first class lounge of a 1960s airport. The reference in its name isn’t quite as obvious as the aforementioned Paper Plane though. D. B. Cooper was the pseudonym of a still unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 from Portland International Airport, in the same city where his eponymous cocktail was created at the Red Star Tavern.
After extorting $200,000, D. B. Cooper parachuted out of the aircraft and was never seen again. Thankfully, the recipe for this tart Whiskey-based cocktail is less of a mystery, with the Aperol’s bitterness enhanced by Amaro Meletti, an Italian bitter herb liqueur, and finished with lemon juice.
The Turbo Lover is bound to become the tall, dark stranger in your cocktail repertoire. It’s the essence of a femme fatale seducing Mad Men’s Don Draper in an Art Deco hotel bar after everyone else has gone to bed.
This smooth and (quite literally) spicy cocktail, created at Nitecap in New York City, blends equal parts Aperol with coffee and chilli liqueurs. It only takes one – or is that two? – to inspire just the right kind of sleepless night.
Invented by Boris Van Dyck at The Darling Oyster Bar in Charleston, the Basil Daisy is a refreshing and invigorating cocktail ideal for Southern summer evenings.
It’s a vodka and Aperol cocktail shaken with fresh basil leaves and ice, then strained over as much crushed ice as you can fit in a tall glass. It looks bright and beautiful as it is, but make sure to keep your largest, greenest, and most appetising basil leaves for a spectacular garnish.
If you’re familiar with Anthony Burgess’ eponymous book (or the controversial Stanley Kubrick movie, of course), you’d probably expect the Clockwork Orange cocktail to be quite a sinister concoction that somehow incorporates a fair amount of milk. You’d be wrong.
In fact, the Clockwork Orange is a chocolate, coffee and (of course) orange flavoured cocktail created by Australian bartender Taylor Hall to mimic the taste of Jaffa Cakes.
Whiskey and pineapple might sound like an odd combination but take a second to think it over and you’ll probably come to the same conclusion we did: Why the hell not?
The Wicked Behaviour is a Bourbon and Aperol cocktail hailing from Seattle’s Rider bar. It has a carefully complex blend of fruity flavours, complementing the aforementioned pineapple with elderflower and lemon. It sounds like a summer drink, but really, this is one that goes down well at any time of year, whether outside by the pool or inside by the fireplace.
Finally, if you can’t get enough of Aperol and other iconic Italian tipples, click here to learn how to drink like an Italian. Saluti!