For an Italian-themed special event hosted by Terlato Wines recently, I was asked to create a signature cocktail. The cocktail would be served before dinner, so that got me thinking about a variation on the Aperol Spritz, my favorite summertime sparkler, made with Aperol liqueur, prosecco, and soda, with a slice of orange.
Looking toward Italy for flavor inspiration, I immediately thought of one of my favorite Italian spirits producers, Nonino. The company has been making grappa and other spirits since 1897, and — notably — has been run by women for the past two generations. I was first introduced to Nonino’s Amaro by a sommelier at Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York a few years back, when I wrote a piece for Manhattan magazine about the best digestivos.
While many amaros are bitter, Nonino’s is more herb-forward. The exact ingredients are secret, but I taste bright orange, mint, lemon verbena, and anise, along with rootsy flavors like sarsaparilla. I thought this could make a compelling base for a riff on the Spritz. I tried several variations, playing with quantities, and swapping out citrus and herbs, eventually landing on the recipe below. From the reception at the event, and reports from friends at Roman Nose, a trattoria that recently whipped up a batch, I think the Nonino Spritz is poised to be a summertime hit.
Instead of Pimms Cups or Aperol Spritzes this summer, you’ll find me out on the patio sipping a Nonino Spritz!
- 1 1/2 oz. Nonino Quintessentia amaro
- 3 oz. prosecco
- 2 oz. soda
- 1/8 small orange
- 3 mint leaves + 1 mint sprig
In a stemless wine glass, gently muddle mint leaves and orange. Fill 3/4 with ice. Add amaro, prosecco, and soda. Stir. Garnish with mint sprig.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Terlato Wines / Jane Kratochvil