Pleasantly bitter, herb-infused Campari is a bracing aperitif, especially when it's blended with a little sparkling wine as it is here. Neal Bodenheimer loves how the vivid-red Italian spirit tastes with fennel. "This is a perfect way to use up any leftover fennel fronds from the kitchen," he says.
This drink was Gregory Best's response to a woman dressed in lavender who tottered up to the bar with friends for a nightcap. "My darling," she said, "one more will put me directly over the edge. Fruit juice, please."
According to Jamie Boudreau, a good aperitif often hints at the meal that will follow. This light, summery cilantro-spiked drink—which Boudreau likes to mix with a eucalyptus-infused simple syrup—would be a great lead-up to Mexican food.
According to Ryan Fitzgerald, this drink—created by mixologists Kathy Flick and Marcovaldo Dionysos—is based on the Favorite Cocktail in Jacques Straub's 1914 book Drinks. The updated recipe amps up the Favorite's ginger flavor with an intense syrup infused with fresh ginger and black peppercorns.
At the southern Italian restaurant Sotto in Beverly Hills, mixologist Julian Cox uses reposado tequila (“rested,” barrel-aged tequila) for this cocktail. It’s a variation on the Paloma, made with tequila and grapefruit soda. “I put this drink on the menu as a joke, trying to make it Italian by adding Campari and Italian orange soda,” he says. “It became Sotto’s most popular drink.”