Cappelletti Should Be the First Bottle You Add to Your Bar This Spring

Photo: © Carey Jones

If you don’t know Cappelletti, prepare to make its acquaintance and find out why it’s the bottle that has been heretofore missing from your bar. The aperitif is bitter and herbal but just a little sweet. It's also quite light on the alcohol, friendly and mellow in character and so refreshing you can drink it just chilled over ice, with nothing more than a citrus garnish. Think of it like Campari’s even more drinkable cousin.

Unlike Campari, though, it's a wine-based aperitif. That gives it a rich, full character alongside its gentle herbal flavors and hint of citrus peel, which means it mixes great in cocktails, too. Give these three simple drinks a try and see if we can't get you on Team Cappelletti.

Easy: Cap 'n Soda

Our friend Cappelletti is sufficiently complex on its own such that you barely need to dress it up at all. A little soda brightens it up, and a little orange accentuates those citrus flavors. This is an afternoon sipper if ever there was one.

Instructions: In a glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of Cappelletti and 3 ounces of soda. Garnish with an orange wedge.

Intermediate: Cap-Hattan

Good aged rum is an underrated mixer, and it works particularly well in this easy stirred cocktail. You could think of this as a Manhattan, with Cappelletti taking the place of vermouth. It’s a great after-dinner stomach-settler.

Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces of Jamaican rum (like Appleton) and 1 1/2 ounces of Cappelletti. Stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass without ice and garnish with a long, skinny lemon peel, twisting it over the surface of the drink to spray the citrus oils all over.

Advanced: Cappelletti Collins

Gin is a natural friend to anything herbal; in the summer, lemon and soda are best friends with gin. (Add simple syrup and you've got a Tom Collins.) Here, we're bringing in Cappelletti as that fun herbal element, with the added contribution of that gorgeous pinky-red color. Make a pitcher of these and see how long they last you.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 ounce gin, 3/4 ounce Cappelletti, 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/4 ounce of honey syrup (honey cut with an equal part of hot water). Shake that all up and strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with 2 ounces soda water. Garnish with a few lemon wedges.

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