Summer drinking – Italian style

Add a splash of Italy to your drinks selection this summer, whether that’s a liquor, cocktail, limoncello or refreshing non-alcoholic thirst-quencher.

Cuisine

Add a splash of Italy to your drinks selection, whether that’s a liquor, cocktail or refreshing non-alcoholic thirst-quencher.

When it comes to cuisine, the Italians are experts. From freshly-made pasta to Prosciutto di San Daniele, plus a host of regional dishes that are favoured in towns and villages across the country, Italian food is amongst the tastiest and most flavourful in the world.

And when it comes to drinks, we can learn a lot from Italy too. Long leisurely lunches and evening alfresco meals in spring and summer are washed down with some of the most famous and delicious drinks around. Salute!

Prosecco

Few things say ‘celebration’ more than a glass of Prosecco. Over the years it has become increasingly popular, but did you know that Prosecco comes from the same part of Italy that Prosciutto di San Daniele comes from – the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia area? In fact, the name Prosecco comes from the village of Prosecco, near Trieste. Fill your glass and say ‘salute’ to this Italian favourite – the perfect picnic and party tipple.


TOP TIP: Chill glasses in the fridge before pouring the Prosecco.

Limoncello Spritzer

Limoncello inspires memories of summer holidays in the Amalfi coast for many people but, while associated strongly with the south of Italy, it’s a drink that’s enjoyed all over the country – and the world. Made by infusing pure alcohol with lemon zest and sugar, a shot glass of limoncello ends many a meal in Italy. However, on hot summer days, a Limoncello Spritzer makes for a refreshing and lighter alternative to a glass of wine. Simply fill a glass with ice, add white wine and a shot of limoncello then top with club soda and stir.

Hugo

When the long, lazy afternoons of summer seem to stretch forever, and life takes on a more gentle rhythm, Italians in the north-east of the country often relax with a refreshing glass of ‘Hugo’. The next time you pop open a bottle of Prosecco, add some elderflower and raise a glass to your friends here in San Daniele. Pour Prosecco into a large wine glass, add a dash of elderberry syrup, top with soda or sparkling water and garnish with a slice of orange.

A refreshing Hugo is a summer staple in north-eastern Italy

Summer Wines

The summer season calls for a lighter wine and in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region we are especially known for our white wines. Pinot Grigio has a delicate taste which is perfect for warm days as it’s neither cloying nor full bodied but crisp and light. The most famous wine of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region is the dry, white Friulano with its delicate aroma of pears. Friulano means ‘coming from Friuli’ and it’s a popular choice in restaurants in the region. If you’re making a white wine summer spritzer, a Sauvignon Blanc is ideal – half fill a wine glass or tall glass with ice and wine and top with club soda or tonic water. In Italy, look out for the following on wine labels – DOC and DOCG. They stand for Denominazione di Origine Controllata and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita and refer to government guarantees of the wines’ origins in terms of the geographic region they’re produced and the grapes used to make them.

A glass of crisp white wine is the perfect accompaniment to a plate of prosecco
A glass of crisp white wine is the perfect accompaniment to a plate of prosecco

Grappa Spritzer

Italian meals are traditionally ended with a shot of grappa and a coffee, but this high-proof wine liquor also lends itself to a summery spritzer. Add a shot to a glass of sparkling wine or a tall glass filled with ice and topped with soda.
TOP TIP: Add a basil or mint leaf to your ice cubes before freezing them and pop a couple into your Grappa Spritzer glass before serving.

Bellini

A classic Italian cocktail, created in Harry’s Bar, Venice, in the 1940s. It’s simple but delicious, and a much-loved summer cocktail. Add two parts of Prosecco to one part peach puree and enjoy!

Aperol Spritz

Sipping on a colourful Aperol Spritz is a summer tradition in north-east Italy. Not only is it a refreshing, if slightly bitter, drink, it adds a pop of colour to picnic tables too! Fill a glass with ice, pour in Prosecco and Aperol in equal measures, top with a splash of soda water, garnish and serve.

A colourful Aperol Sptriz
There’s no mistaking the colourful Aperol Spritz

ALCOHOL-FREE REFRESHERS

Baby Bellini

A non-alcoholic version of the classic cocktail, fill the bottom of a chilled
glass with peach puree and top with sparkling water or soda water.
Decorate the glass with a slice of fresh peach.

Caffè Shakerato

This reviving summer drink is like an iced coffee, a combination of coffee and ice, but in this case the coffee is espresso. Shakerato refers to the shaking movement involved in making it – so gather your picnic pals around and have a shake session party. Make it with one shot of fresh espresso, ice cubes and optional sugar or simple syrup. Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, shake for 30 seconds, pour into a martini or white wine glass and garnish with a coffee bean or a sugared rim.