Marisa Chafetz / Supercall

Entertaining
Move Over Aperol, It’s Cappelletti Season

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Over the last few years, the Aperol Spritz has beat out just about every other contender as The Drink of the Summer. You could easily get by drinking (and Instagramming) nothing but Spritzes—and, okay, maybe rosé—until September.

But with all due respect to the classic, Aperol isn’t the only bright red, bittersweet Italian aperitivo out there. This summer, we’re all about Cappelletti. (Or as it’s called in Trento, its native Italian region, “Il Specialino.”)

While Cappelletti is produced by a fourth-generation family operation with more than one hundred years of history, it’s only become available in the States in the last few years. Like Aperol and Campari, it’s a liqueur of a gorgeous red hue, infused with a variety of herbs and botanicals. Unlike Aperol and Campari, it’s made from a base of white wine—primarily Trebbiano—which gives it a rich, juicy character.

There’s a pleasant, almost vermouth-like sweetness on first sip, but thanks to the herbal and bitter elements, it finishes nice and dry. And that color? It’s still created with a red compound found in cochineal beetles, like Campari used to be.

Bartenders love the stuff. “Cappelletti is amazing,” says Liana Oster of New York’s Dante, a bar known for its aperitivo-style cocktails. “Unlike many bitters, it’s a wine-based aperitif which makes it gentle while highlighting its herbal notes.”

At Dante, it’s used in the Golden Sbagliato, a Negroni Sbagliato riff with Cappelletti, Prosecco and sweet vermouth. “Because it sits at a lower ABV, it’s fantastic to use in a Spritz.”

A classic Spritz is just right, Prosecco pairing nicely with the wine-based Cappelletti, with soda and a citrus garnish to brighten it up still more. But the complex aperitivo is a dream to mix with. Its herbal elements play well with gin; its mellow sweetness can complement just about any spirit. Give it a try in these three cocktails.  

Marisa Chafetz / Supercall
Like a good Aperol Spritz? Of course you do. This version with Cappelletti is every bit as refreshing as the classic, and just as simple to make. Adding a few lemon wheels delivers a nice hit of tart citrus that works as a perfect contrast with the slightly richer, juicier Cappelletti. And the bright red color makes this drink even more appealing than the original.

The Essentials

Cappelletti Aperitivo
Prosecco
Club Soda
Marisa Chafetz / Supercall
The Jack Rose is an unsung cocktail hero—the brilliant union of apple brandy, true grenadine (basically a reduced pomegranate syrup) and citrus. Here, we’re swapping out grenadine for Cappelletti—also bright red, also a little fruity, if not quite as sweet. Its array of herbal flavors are a perfect match for apple brandy.

The Essentials

Apple Brandy
Cappelletti Aperitivo
lemon juice
Marisa Chafetz / Supercall
Cappelletti is a great fit for any drink with gin; the two spirits’ herbal elements blend together perfectly. Add dry fino sherry and you’ve got a dry and super-complex base for plenty of citrus. (And with two low-proof elements in here, it’s a reasonably mellow drink that’s great for hot summer days; it won’t knock you out in the afternoon.)

The Essentials

Gin
fino sherry
Cappelletti Aperitivo

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