This Aperol Negroni, also known as an Aperol gin cocktail or Contessa, has the perfect balance of bitter, sweet, and citrusy flavors. Made with 3 different alcohols, this cocktail packs a punch and is perfect for sipping on the patio before dinner.
An Aperol Negroni is a twist on the Negroni, a classic cocktail. A Negroni, made with equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth garnished with an orange peel, is an Italian aperitivo, meaning that it is meant to be drank before dinner to stimulate your appetite. This cocktail is made with Aperol instead, which is an apéritif just like Campari. However, it's less bitter and has a gorgeous orange hue instead of deep crimson.
Stirred and poured over ice just like a classic Negroni, this Aperol gin cocktail (also called the Contessa) is much easier to drink. It's sweeter and less bitter. Like the popular Aperol spritz, it's garnished with an orange slice and is complex yet refreshing. You'll love sipping it outside on sunny afternoons!
If you're a cocktail lover, try my creamy espresso martini, tinto de verano recipe, and blueberry gin and tonic.
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For quantities and full instructions, see the recipe card below.
Gin- This brings a unique, crisp botanical flavor to the drink. Gin is a spirit made by distilling fermented grains, like barley or wheat, and then infusing the resulting alcohol with botanicals like juniper berries, coriander, and angelica root.
There are many different types of gin, each with unique flavor profiles. Some gins are more juniper-forward, while others emphasize citrus or floral notes. For a traditional Negroni, London Dry gin is often used, but you can experiment with using different gins too.
Aperol- Aperol is a bright orange Italian aperitif that adds a sweet, slightly bitter, fruity flavor to the mix. It's made from a blend of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and other herbs and spices. This liqueur was first created in 1919 by the Barbieri brothers and has a distinctive bright orange color.
Aperol is 11% alcohol by volume in contrast to Campari's 28%, making it much easier to drink and mix with other alcohols.
Sweet vermouth- This adds a rich, complex flavor to round out the cocktail. Vermouth is a fortified wine flavored with a variety of herbs, spices, and botanicals, including wormwood, gentian root, and citrus peel. Sweet vermouth is infused with caramel, which gives it a deeper, richer flavor than dry vermouth.
When combined with Aperol and gin, sweet vermouth adds a sweet, floral note to this recipe. It balances out the bitterness of the Aperol and provides a rich, velvety texture. It also adds depth and complexity to the Negroni, making it a satisfying and sophisticated drink.
Some popular brands are Carpano Antica, Dolin Rouge, and Martini & Rossi. Each has a unique flavor profile, so experiment to find the one you like the most.
Ice- You'll need plenty of ice to chill your mixing glass and to serve the drink over.
Orange slice- Instead of an orange peel, this cocktail is garnished with an orange slice, referencing an Aperol spritz. Any kind works, from navel to blood orange.
- I haven't made this cocktail with any substitutions, but feel free to try different aperitifs if you can't find Aperol. Common substitutions are Lillet, Luxardo, Contratto, and Galliano.
- If you can't find sweet vermouth, substitute it with dry red wine and a touch of simple syrup.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
- Mixing glass: A mixing glass is a container used to stir the ingredients together with ice, resulting in a smoother, less diluted drink.
- Jigger or measuring cup: A jigger is a small, hourglass-shaped tool used to measure spirits and other liquids. You can also use a measuring cup, but make sure it has markings for smaller quantities.
- Bar spoon: A bar spoon is a long-handled spoon for stirring cocktails. A good one should have a long handle to reach the bottom of the mixing glass and a twisted stem to help with the stirring motion.
- Hawthorne strainer or fine mesh strainer: We'll need a strainer to separate the liquid from the ice. A Hawthorne strainer is a type of strainer that fits over the opening of a cocktail shaker and has a spring-loaded coil that helps hold back any solid ingredients. You can use a fine mesh sieve if you prefer a smoother texture.
Step by Step Instructions
Here are the steps to make the Aperol Negroni! Before you start, add a generous amount of ice to your mixing glass and rocks glass for serving.
STEP 1: First, use a jigger to measure the gin and pour it into the mixing glass. Repeat with the Aperol and sweet vermouth in equal parts.
STEP 2: Next, stir the drink with a bar spoon for about 30 seconds. Stir until the drink is well-mixed and chilled.
STEP 3: Using a Hawthorne strainer or fine mesh strainer, strain the drink into your serving glass filled with ice.
STEP 4: Garnish the drink with an orange slice, sip, and enjoy!
- Use high quality ingredients. Since this cocktail has only three ingredients, it's essential to use high quality spirits and vermouth. Choose a gin that you enjoy drinking on its own and a sweet vermouth that has a good balance of sweetness and bitterness. Aperol is already a high quality ingredient, so you don't need to worry about that.
- Use equal parts of each ingredient. This ensures that the flavors are well-balanced and that no single ingredient overpowers the others.
- Don't over-dilute. Since this is a stirred cocktail, it's essential not to over-stir or use too much ice. Over-stirring can result in a watery drink, and using too much ice can make the drink too cold and watered down. A good rule of thumb is to stir the drink for about 30 seconds and strain it into a glass with large ice cubes.
Additions and Variations
- Bitters: Adding a few dashes of bitters can enhance the flavors and add little extra depth. Try adding a few drops of orange bitters or aromatic bitters.
- Soda water: If you think your cocktail is a little too strong or bitter, add a splash of sparkling or soda water to lighten it up and make it more refreshing.
- Grapefruit or lemon juice: A splash of grapefruit, lemon, or lime juice adds a little extra acidity to the Aperol Negroni. Just be careful not to add too much, or it will overpower the other flavors.
- Different types of vermouth: Sweet vermouth is the classic choice, but you can also experiment with different types, like dry vermouth or blanc vermouth, to give your Negroni a different flavor profile.
- Experiment with garnishes: Try experimenting with other garnishes like grapefruit or lemon peel, fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary, or even edible flowers. The garnish should complement the flavors of the drink and look beautiful.
Storage and Freezing
Cocktails are always best right after they're made. However, if you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container (like a bottle or mason jar) in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Make sure to stir and pour over ice before serving.
Technically, you can freeze an Aperol Negroni, but I don't recommend it. Freezing cocktails can alter their texture and flavors and make them less enjoyable to drink.
If you have leftovers that you can't finish within 24 hours, it's best to store them in the refrigerator like I mentioned before.
Frequently Asked Questions
Aperol and Campari are both Italian aperitifs, but they differ in taste and popularity. Aperol is sweeter and less bitter than Campari, with dominant fruity notes and lower alcohol content. Campari, on the other hand, is more intense and bitter with a higher alcohol content.
Yes, you can definitely make a pitcher for a party. Combine 1 ½ cups of each ingredient in a pitcher filled with ice and stir. Pour into individual glasses filled with ice and garnish each one with an orange slice. This makes about 8 servings, but if you need more you can double the recipe!
Anything with Aperol is perfect to serve on warm days before dinner. Some foods you can pair it with are antipasto platters or charcuterie boards, bruschetta, seafood (like grilled shrimp and calamari), and light salads (like a Caprese or arugula salad).
More Drinks to Try
Aperol Negroni (Aperol Gin Cocktail)
- 1 ounce gin
- 1 ounce Aperol
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1 orange slice
- Fill your mixing glass and serving glass with ice.Ice
- Pour the gin, Aperol, and sweet vermouth into the mixing glass and stir until well-mixed and chilled.1 ounce gin, 1 ounce Aperol, 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- Strain the cocktail through a Hawthorne or mesh strainer into your serving glass.
- Garnish with an orange slice and enjoy.1 orange slice
- Choose a gin that you enjoy on its own and a sweet vermouth that has a good balance of sweetness and bitterness.
- Use equal parts of each ingredient to ensure that no single ingredient overpowers the others.
- Don't over-stir or use too much ice. Both can result in a watery drink.
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