The other day I had a yearning for a cocktail that was a little bit fruity, crisp, and refreshing, but not overly sweet. I’m not really a sweet-drinks person to start with (give me wine that’s dusty dry, please) so I try and find things that have balance. A little sweet if fine, sure, but I also like a little bitter, maybe a touch herbal, with some fizzies thrown in for fun. Plus it’s summer, so something that can go over ice makes it extra-nice. And so, behold! The Italian Sparkler, so named because all the liquors are Italian (serendipitously selected rather than intentionally) and my friend Gigi called it an exquisite Italian drink. Thanks, Gigi!
Here’s what you need:
- 3-4 blueberries (depending on size; 3 if they’re big fat juicy ones, 4 or even 5 if they’re smaller and seem less productive), plus another few for garnish
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (2 if they’re kind of full-looking with lots of leaves, 3 if they’re more spindly) plus another pretty sprig for garnish
- 1/2 oz. simple syrup*
- 1 oz. Limoncello
- 1 oz. Aperol
- Prosecco to fill glasses
- 2 or 3 dashes of orange bitters
- Rocks glass
Note: This recipe is for one but it can easily be doubled if you’re mixing one for your husband as well so you can both enjoy this drink during your Saturday night cocktail hour. Make them at the same time; put it all in one shaker. Also, if you’re making this for one and thinking, would I really want to open a bottle of Prosecco for this? All I can say is…buy a split pack. I get two cocktails out of one split, and keep the rest in the pantry for future use. Easy-peasy.
Take your three or four blueberries and two thyme sprigs and muddle them in a shaker with the simple syrup. Add ice to the shaker, and then the Limoncello and Aperol. Shake vigorously until the cold creeps up the shaker, 10 seconds or so.
Fill a rocks glass with ice, pausing about half-way through to toss a few more blueberries into the ice for garnish. Strain the shaker into your rocks glass, and fill to the top with Prosecco. Top with bitters. Give the drink a gentle stir (otherwise Prosecco will float on the top) and add the final thyme sprig for a garnish.
Et voilà! Which I know is French but I don’t know how to say the same thing in Italian. This is super-refreshing, citrusy, NOT sweet, sparkly with Prosecco, with notes of thyme and fresh berries. And check out the colors! It’s perfect for 4th of July weekend. I would argue that it’s best enjoyed on the back porch with a gentle breeze ruffling your hair, but that’s me. You do you.
Fun fact: A friend asked me if I had a lipstick that matched the drink. I do! Which is kind of a moot point when we’re all wearing masks but SOME DAY, you’ll all see…
I hope you enjoy the cocktail (responsibly)! Thanks for dropping by.
*simple syrup = equal parts sugar and water, heated in a pan just until the sugar melts. Set aside to cool. Will last in the fridge for about a month