Spring has sprung, and with it comes the return of Aperol season. Beloved for its vibrant orange hue and sunny citrus notes, the Italian liqueur is the perfect low-ABV seasonal sipper. But in a world where the easy-drinking Aperol Spritz has become practically synonymous with the Venetian aperitivo, you may be wondering what else you can do with your bottle when Prosecco and soda aren’t hitting the spot.
While the Spritz is wonderful in its own right, Aperol has a place in a number of other phenomenal cocktails that are sure to keep you feeling refreshed as the weather warms up. Here are eight Aperol cocktails beyond the spritz that will add a bit of sunshine to your spring.
The Aperol Negroni
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Known for its bitter flavor profile, the Negroni is an easy-to-build, equal-parts cocktail in which Aperol can easily be substituted for fellow Italian aperitivo Campari. The combination of botanical-forward gin, sweet vermouth, and citrusy Aperol makes for a sweeter, more aromatic version of the classic cocktail perfect for someone becoming more acquainted with bitter beverages.
For those of us just dipping our toes into spirit-forward cocktails like the Martini, the Michael may be the perfect starter drink. Less abrasive than a traditional Martini, the Michael combines gin with three-quarter ounces of Aperol and three-quarter ounces of blanc vermouth — along with a single dash of orange bitters — to create a smooth tipple.
The Paper Plane
Inspired by the 2007 hit song “Paper Planes” by M.I.A, this cocktail is a modern classic that’s just as easy to shake up as it is to enjoy. The equal parts combination of bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino, and lemon juice creates a delectable blend of candied fruit and zippy citrus.
The Pineapple Jungle Bird
A variation of the traditional Jungle Bird, the Pineapple Jungle Bird swaps out the original recipe’s rum and Campari for Cognac and Aperol, with the addition of pineapple juice and marmalade for a tangy libation. Aperol mellows out the acidic edge of the pineapple, while Cognac provides a robust sweetness to balance the drink’s lime juice. This is a recipe you’ll want to keep in your back pocket for all of your summertime travels.
The Aperol Sour
Beloved for their creamy mouthfeel and easy-drinking nature, sour cocktails are among some of the world’s most popular cocktails, and the Whiskey Sour ranks at No. 10 on our list. This year, try swapping out that whiskey for Aperol and gin for a vibrant, more soft-sipping experience that will leave zippy citrus lingering on your taste buds.
The Division Bell
Invented by bartender Phil Ward in 2009, the Division Bell is a smoky variation of the classic Last Word and is largely credited as one of the first cocktails to bring mezcal to attention in the United States. Aperol’s slight bitterness balances out the mezcal’s smoky essence while highlighting the spirit’s own subtle citrus notes. The addition of sweet maraschino liqueur and freshly squeezed lime juice provide a vivacious and balanced finish.
The Bird of Paradise
If you fancy yourself a cocktail on the sweeter side of the spectrum, the Bird of Paradise is the perfect pick to transport you to the tropics—even if only for a little while. Created by Alex Holder at Pool Burger in Austin, Texas, this cocktail is another riff on the Jungle Bird and blends Aperol’s distinctive flavor profile with overproof rum, providing a spiced edge to the otherwise saccharine notes. With fresh pineapple and lime juices added to the mix, the Bird of Paradise is a fruity sipper perfect for hours spent soaking in the sunshine.
- 1 ounce overproof rum
- 1 ounce Aperol
- 1 ounce pineapple juice
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- ¼ ounce simple syrup
- Garnish: pineapple leaf
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake for 30 seconds.
- Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice.
- Garnish with pineapple leaf.
The Ten Spot
A fruity, floral, and marvelously delicious concoction, the Ten Spot was created by John Walter of Seattle’s Outlier and is the perfect choice for those of us who prefer our elixirs gin-forward. Gin and Aperol make for an herbaceous base while grapefruit and lime juices complement the botanical and citrus notes in each.
- 1 ½ ounces gin
- ½ ounce Aperol
- ½ ounce grapefruit juice
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled.
- Strain into a Champagne flute and serve.