The Really Big Guide to Drinks in Italy and Famous Italian Cocktails

The Really Big Guide to Drinks in Italy and Famous Italian Cocktails

The best place to start learning about Italian spirits, liqueurs, amaro, and wine is with this comprehensive guide on Italian libations and famous Italian cocktails (including recipes).

Italian-style cocktails are on the way!

Italy may be one of the most popular bucket list locations in the world, thanks to its wonderful food, wine, architecture, and old-world charm.

Although Italian cuisine is undeniably one of the country’s most enticing qualities, it’s frequently neglected that the country has a plethora of delicious alcoholic beverages as well.

We’ll take a look at Italian liqueurs, amaro spirits, and artisan beer in addition to the country’s world-renowned wines. And if you’re thinking of taking back some Italian liqueurs as gifts for loved ones back home, these are excellent choices.

In addition, we’ve provided precise recipes for 11 classic Italian cocktails, so you can prepare them at home!

What Do Italians Drink?

Italians believe that a meal is more enjoyable when accompanied by the right beverage, but choosing the right one can be difficult because there are so many options.

Whether it’s an aromatic coffee drink, a wide variety of wines, or a late-night cocktail, Italians have a wide variety of beverages to choose from. Some of the world’s most unusual liqueurs and spirits can be found in Italy. Vermouth, Campari, and Aperol, to mention a few, may not even be aware that they were born in Italy.

We hope this list of Italian cocktails and beverages helps you make a decision about what to drink in Italy and introduces you to some new Italian cocktails and drinks that suit your taste and style!

The Legal Age To Drink In Italy

Italy is the place to go if you’re under 21 and don’t want to get in trouble for drinking. Due to the absence of the legal drinking age in the country, anyone under the age of 21 can lawfully consume alcohol.

Minors under the age of 16 are not permitted to purchase or sell alcoholic beverages, and most bars will only serve them if an adult is present. People of all ages, including children, are always welcome in Italian bars because they are primarily social gathering places.

Toasting In Italy

Italy is a country where there’s no such thing as an occasion that isn’t worthy of toasting!

“Salute,” which means “health” in Italian, is a typical term for formal congratulation. “Alla nostra salute,” which means “to our health,” and “Alla tua salute,” which means “to your health,” are other variations of the phrase.

The Victorian-era Chinese phrase of thankfulness, “Ching Ching,” inspired the sentiment “Cin Cin” (pronounced “chin chin”). The clinking of glasses is the most common method of toasting in Italy, and this informal phrase is followed by a clap of hands.

A toast can be announced by saying “fare un brindisi,” which means “to make a toast”. “facciamo un brindisi” means “let’s drink a toast” in Italian.

Above all, when making a toast, make sure you look the other person in the eye. If you don’t, they may grow suspicious. One of the fascinating facts about Italian cuisine and wine you should know before you go is this centuries-old myth.

Drinks and cocktails from Italy will be covered in depth in our complete guide. What to drink in Italy, the finest wine combinations and the ideal times and amounts to consume each sort are all covered in this guide.

We’ve got your back. You’ll know all about Italy’s best-known tipples by the time we’re done!

DRINKS IN ITALY (ALCOHOLIC): WINE

Vino veritas – The truth is in the wine! Wine continues to be a social and cultural staple in Italian life, whether it’s shared with loved ones or new acquaintances. A glass of wine is traditionally served with dinner in Italy, but it’s also enjoyed on its own with little bites like biscuits, cheese, and bread. All 20 of Italy’s regions produce wine, and many of these regions—Sicily, Tuscany, Lombardy, Veneto, Lazio, and Piedmont—are known around the world for their superb wine production.

Valpolicella

In the northeastern Veneto region, Amarone Della Valpolicella, one of Italy’s most prized red wines, derives from the grape. At least two years of oak barrel ageing are required for this everyday-drinking wine made from the passion grape; it can take up to a decade for rare examples.

Cinnamon, black fig, carob, cherry liqueur, and plum sauce are some of the scents released by old red wine. In the shadow of these powerful aromas lurks a trace of green peppercorn, cocoa, and, oddly enough, gravel dust. Brown sugar’s flavour deepens as it ages, bringing out notes of molasses and dried figs.

Classico Valpolicella goes well with ordinary dishes including pizza, barbecued meats, risotto, beef short ribs, and roast poultry. This pairing works well with both classic and modern-style Amarones, which are made with mature cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Vecchio and Cambro.

Chianti Classico

As far as Tuscany goes, the grapes needed to manufacture Chianti Classico come from as far away as Arezzo, Florence, and Pistoia. Sangiovese must make up at least 80% of the grapes in the Chianti Classico, which is known for its straw basket packaging.

To be sure you’re sipping a Chianti Classico, look for the round black-and-white rooster seal on the top of the bottle.

For the normal Chianti Classico, a minimum of 12 months of ageing is required before it can be sold. When it comes to the Riserva label, it’s a lengthy process that requires 24 months of maturing. Acidic and very dry, this wine has flavours of sour cherries and violets.

A full-bodied wine, it goes well with tomato-based Italian fare including spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, baked ziti, pizza, and bruschetta. Because the fruit notes in Chianti can be countered by cheeses with complex flavours like an aged Parmigiano Reggiano or sharp cheddar, these cheeses pair nicely with Chianti.

While Classico is the most well-known Chianti, don’t overlook some superb regional wines produced just outside the geographical boundaries. Classico is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. There is no excuse not to try the Chianti Colli Senese wines produced nearby!

Barolo

In the Piedmont area of northern Italy, Barolo is red wine. At least 18 months of this wine must be matured in wooden barrels, which are made from Nebbiolo grapes.

Barolo wine, like Pinot noir from Burgundy, has a minimum alcoholic content of 13%. Intense notes of rose, tar, and dry herbs abound in this acidic wine, which develops a softer bitterness with age.

You should serve this wine with hearty dishes such as roast beef, rib-eye steak, or even venison stew or roasted goose. Castelmagno, Gorgonzola, and other blue cheeses, which are known for their strength and intensity, mix well with grilled meats.

Sangiovese

For this wine to be really Italian, it must be made from Sangiovese grapes grown across the country. Some of Tuscany’s best Sangiovese wines have notes of black cherry, while others have strawberry and rose aromas and flavours from southern Italy.

Sangiovese, Italy’s most popular red grape varietal, is known by a variety of different names. Vino Nobile del Montepulciano, Montefalco Ross, and Morellino di Scansano are just a few of Tuscany’s most famous wines.

You’ll thank us later if you pair Sangiovese with tasty rare steaks, rich chicken dishes, tomato sauce-based foods, or meaty pasta.

Prosecco

White wine from Italy’s Veneto region, Prosecco is often likened to champagne because of its versatility and affordability. Many recipes and meals can benefit from its distinctive characteristics, despite the fact that it isn’t the most versatile ingredient. An aperitif, a celebration, a meal, or a cocktail can all benefit from this versatile spirit.

The white glera grape is used to make both the frizzante (fizzy) and the spumante varieties of this wine (fully sparkling). With fruit salad or prosciutto-wrapped melon, prosecco is an excellent accompaniment to brunch. Pad Thai or sushi are great accompaniments to the wine’s spritzy bubbles and fruity flavour.

Vin Santo

Vin Santo is an Italian dessert wine that is mostly produced in Tuscany. This wine is known for its caramel and hazelnut aromas and flavours. Cantucci and Vin Santo, Italy’s most famous ritual of welcoming guests, is made using vin santo and biscotti.

“Passito,” the process of dehydrating grapes for months at a time, is used to make vin santo, and it’s considered one of the most magical methods of winemaking.

Natural fermentation takes occurs in small casks or barrels known as Caratelli after the raisins have been pressed. As the fermentation progresses, it can take as long as four years.

Pair it with blue cheese, dark chocolate, tiramisu, and other sweets, as well as mince pies, for example.

Vin Brule

Italians in the Piemonte area of northwestern Italy enjoy a type of mulled wine known as vin brûlé. An inexpensive, full-bodied red wine, lemon, orange, ginger, and a variety of spices are commonly used to make it.

Because it can be made in big batches, left to simmer on low heat, and ladled into glasses as your guests come in from the cold, it is a wintertime favourite for Christmas entertaining. Add a dash of brandy to increase the flavours and intensity even further.

Brunello

Montalcino, a town in the province of Siena about 80 kilometres south of Florence, is where Brunello is produced. The Sangiovese grape is the only ingredient in Italian red wine, which undergoes a lengthy maceration time before fermentation.

a minimum of five years in huge Slavonian oak barrels (or 10 years for the Riserva version). It is a medium-bodied red with robust flavours of dark fruit, vanilla, chocolate, and brown sugar. The flavour profile, although powerful initially, gets milder as it ages.

Heavy meat meals, like steak and game, go well with Brunello. Especially ones that come with mushroom sauces. It also bodes well with hefty pasta dishes, stews, and robust cheeses.

Nobile

A must-have Tuscan red, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is considered by many to be Tuscany’s finest red wine. This blend contains at least 70% Sangiovese grapes, or Prugnolo gentle as the locals call it, and can only be made in the vineyards surrounding the town of Montepulciano.

When this wine is made, it’s usually matured for at least two years in oak barrels. The riserva label, on the other hand, requires nobile to have been aged for at least three years. The crisp acidity and mild tannins of Nobile make it a wonderful accompaniment to Italian dishes.

Lambrusco

Emilia-Romagna, located south of Vento and north of Tuscany, is one of Italy’s wealthiest regions. Lambrusco grapes, which are used to manufacture this versatile sparkling red wine, originating in this region, which is otherwise not well-known for its wine.

Since “what grows together goes together,” Lambrusco is a perfect match for salami and other meats from the Emilia-Roma region as well as pasta and other dishes from that area.

This wine is best combined with Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, or pecorino from the same region when it comes to cheese..” For decades, Lambrusco had a cult following, but today it’s widely produced and widely available in large quantities.

Bardolino

Bardolino, a light-bodied red wine made from grapes cultivated on the east bank of Lake Garda in Vinello, is often considered one of Italy’s finest reds. It has a fruity, mild flavour that pairs nicely with a variety of foods, including chicken, pig, and cured meats.

Bardolino pairs well with a variety of cheeses, including soft goat cheese, Port Salut, Mozzarella, Asiago, Brie, Ricotta, and feta.

Nebbiolo

It is from the northern Italian Alps that Piedmont’s Nebbiolo, the region’s third most well-known wine, hails. Nebbiolo grapes are utilised to manufacture this red wine, much as they are in Barolo and Barbaresco.

However, despite its light colour and aroma, the earthy flavour of Nebbiolo wine is reported by some to linger on the mouth due to its strong tannin and acidity levels. Roses, coffee, anise, and cherry are just a few of the fascinating flavours that come through strongly in this blend.

Roasted meats like beef, turkey, and pork shank flavoured with herbs and tomato sauce, as well as pasta dishes topped with truffles, go nicely with Nebbiolo wine. This wine pairs superbly with both Parmigiano Reggiano and pecorino.

Nero D’Avola

Intense crimson, almost black (Nero) grapes are the primary ingredient in this fruit-forward wine, which hails from Sicily. Although it shares many characteristics with Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero d’Avola has a distinct character all of its own.

Nero d’Avola, Sicily’s best-known food export, was originally a blending wine but has since become one of the country’s most popular. Because of its acidity, this wine pairs well with fatty dishes like burgers, steaks, chops, meatloaf, and barbeque.

ITALIAN DRINKS AND COCKTAILS (ALCOHOLIC): LIQUEURS & SPIRITS

Typical Italian liqueurs are based on centuries-old traditional recipes, using just what is available. Unquestionably, they hold a particular position in Italian culture and food, and many of Italy’s sagas, or festivals, revolve around them. As well as numerous artichoke festivals where you can sample the unique Cynar, there is a Nocino festival near Modena.

Apéritivo (Before The MEal)

A dry alcoholic beverage offered before a meal to pique one’s appetite is known as an apéritivo.

  • Campari – The national drink of Italy, Campari has a rich crimson hue and a harsh taste. This unique Italian alcoholic liqueur is from the Piedmont city of Novara and is created by steeping herbs and fruits in a mixture of alcohol and water. In Italy, it’s a matter of taste, but it’s always there.
  • Aperol is an Italian aperitif created from gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona, and it has a bright orange colour and a bitter taste. What a great piece of Jeopardy-related trivia.
  • Aperol, like Campari, is a popular ingredient in a wide range of drinks, notably the Aperol spritz.
  • Vermouth is an aromatic fortified wine flavoured with a variety of botanicals that was first manufactured in Turin, Italy. Some of Italy’s most popular drinks utilise it, and it helps to counterbalance the harshness that is commonly associated with classic Italian cocktails by providing sweetness.

Digestivo (After The MEal)

The easiest way to define Italian digestivo is as alcoholic nightcaps following a meal. To aid in digestion after heavy meals, these sweet and bitter shots are typically served in small glasses.

  • Limoncello, a lemon-flavoured digestif best enjoyed ice-cold in small glasses, is the perfect liqueur for sipping in the heat of the summer. Citrus-scented Sorrento and Capri on Italy’s Amalfi Coast are well known for their mouthwatering sunshine. Interested in making your own Italian limoncello at home? It’s a breeze!
  • In northern Italy, the Emilia-Romagna region, a dark brown liqueur known as Nocino is prepared from green walnuts that have not yet matured. You can drink it on its own or drizzle it over desserts, as it’s sweet, spicy, and a little bitter.
  • Vintage Italian digestif, Mirto di Sardegna, is derived from the myrtle plant’s berries, notably those from the Sardinian mirto.
  • Sambuca is a tasty digestif produced primarily from star anise, which is distilled. Brands like as Molinari, Sambuca dei Cesari, and Sambuca Ramazzotti are well-known. Coffee beans are commonly served to burn in this dish.

Amaro Liqueurs

Amari is an alcoholic beverage with a 15 to 40 per cent alcohol content. The following are some of the most popular brands.

  • Tonic Wine of the Mediterranean (alcohol content: 35 per cent) – It’s best savoured in moderation. It is produced from a combination of roughly 30 plants, roots, and flowers, and is served ice-cold.
  • From an 1868 recipe comes Amaro Averna, a smooth and full-bodied bittersweet drink that blends Sicilian essential oils of lemons and oranges to set it apart from the rest of the pack.
  • When the Vena family in Basilicata first began producing Amaro Lucano in 1894, it was distinguished by the distinct flavour it acquired from the infusion of rare herbs and roots.
  • Amaro Montenegro (23% alcohol by volume) – Amaro Montenegro is a herbaceous liqueur distilled in Bologna, Italy, from a secret blend of 40 herbs. Spices such as eucalyptus and cinnamon can also be found here.
  • the enigmatic Cynar (alcohol content: 16.5 per cent) – Cynar is a popular and relatively new amaro brand (1952) that uses a blend of 13 herbs and plants, including artichokes!
  • A fragrant liquor created from herbs and spices, Fernet (alcohol content: 40%) is bitter and aromatic. Myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and saffron are all common ingredients, as are distilled grape spirits.
  • There are numerous sweets and beverages that use Amaretto (alcohol content: 21 per cent) as a component. Various components, including almond essence, herbs, botanicals, and apricot kernel oil, are used to make amaretto, a dark, sweet drink. As an aperitif or digestif, amaretto is frequently consumed on its own.
  • Vino Nobile di Sardegna (alcohol content: 37.5 percent ) Vinaccia, the by-product of pressing grapes to make wine, is used to manufacture Grappa, a clear, distilled Italian liquor. The Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions of northern Italy are known for their use of it. Grappa Nonino, Grappa Mazzetti d’Altavilla, Grappa Elisi (Berta distillery), Grappa Rubinia Gualco, and Bepi Tosolini are some of the best-known brands of Grappa.

ITALIAN BEVERAGES (NON-ALCOHOLIC)

Italian Coffee Drinks

When it comes to Italian coffee, “caffè” is an integral component of everyday life. “Caffè, per favore” is both a way to order an espresso and a way to indicate “I want a cup of coffee.” The first step to being less of a “stranger” (foreigner) is to know when to buy espresso! 😉

Espresso is the base of most coffee drinks, and then additional components like milk and foam are added. In addition to these tips, we’ve compiled a list of our top Italian coffee picks.

  • An espresso with two shots is known as a caffè doppio.
  • An espresso shot topped with steamed milk and whipped cream is called a cappuccino.
  • The Caffè Macchiato: Espresso with a splash of warmed milk.
  • Latte Macchiato: Espresso with a shot of warm milk.
  • An espresso shot with a little more water.
  • Restrict: Espresso with the same amount of coffee grounds but only half the water; a stronger and more concentrated shot of espresso
  • Espresso with whipped cream is known as Caffè with Panna.
  • Drinking espresso spiked with brandy is known as a “Caffè Corretto” (grappa or sambuca)
  • An espresso shot poured over a tiny scoop of vanilla-flavoured ice cream is known as a Caffè Affogato.
  • Originally from Turin, Italy, Bicerin is a typical piping hot Italian beverage. Espresso, drinking chocolate, and milk are the three components that go into this drink’s construction.

ITALIAN BEER BRANDS

Italy may not be known for its love of beer, but small-batch microbrews have been cropping up all around the country in recent years. Beverage can be a great way to break up the monotony of entertaining visitors or scarfing down some quick food — especially if you live in Emilia-Romagna where the food tends to be heavier, porkier, and fattier. Fortunately, Bologna is home to a number of excellent craft beer establishments.

Read on to learn about some of Italy’s best-known and most popular brews, as well as some lesser-known offerings.

  • In 1846, Francesco Peroni opened a brewery in Vigevano, Italy, which he named Peroni. Nastro Azzurro, a pale lager, is the city’s most well-known export.
  • Luigi Moretti founded Moretti Italian beer in Udine in 1859, and the company’s recipe has remained constant since then.

Best Italian Beers

We’ve compiled a list of five of Italy’s most beloved and greatest beers:

  • This 5% ABV American pale ale from Re Hop Birrificio Toccalmatto has hints of citrus and a bittersweet caramel aftertaste.
  • Barley and hops are used in the making of the La Rossa Birra Moretti (7.2 per cent): dark chocolate, caramel and molasses-flavoured beer.
  • There are traces of toffee and caramel in Carata Costa Est (6.7 per cent), another malt that has a smooth finish.
  • This brew is 4.7 per cent alcohol by volume. With notes of pine and spices, this American pale ale pours an amber-coloured melting gold.
  • It has notes of brown bread, grilled peaches, and toasted malt in its Stile Austrian Birra Antoniana (5.4% ABV).

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