In an exclusive interview with Globetrender, Dante founder Naren Young discusses why Italian-style aperitivo cocktails are gaining popularity in cosmopolitan cities around the UK and US.
Voted one of the “World’s Best Bars“, New York’s Dante has its first pop-up in London at Madison Rooftop Bar (from September 29 to October 4). Between 4pm and 9pm it will be hosting an “aperitivo happy hour”.
During its residency at Madison, the Dante team are serving some of their greatest hits such as the Garibaldi, the Italian sour and the chocolate negroni. In addition, they have created two new cocktails inspired by Madison’s rooftop scene – Endless Summer and Rooftop Life.
What are the key ingredients and recipe rules for aperitivo mixed drinks?
The category of aperitifs is a broad one and there are many ingredients and products that can fit under its umbrella. It could include classic cocktails like the martini and the entire negroni family.
It could be the spritz, which we promote heavily at Dante through our Summer of Spritz campaign which was very successful for us this year. It could also be a beautifully garnished gin and tonic. Dry sherry, vermouth, Pimms or even a crisp IPA beer or a high acid wine like champagne all make for admirable aperitif options.
What trends in flavours, brands and ingredients are you observing?
The negroni is no longer a niche drink and is part of pop culture. Seeing more and more people of all legal ages drinking negronis and appreciating its polarising bitter flavour profile has been an amazing thing to watch.
The Aperol spritz is a bona fide global phenomenon now and has set off a craze for spritzes in many guises. The Spanish-style G&T is also permeating its way around the world because of its stunning presentation in a large wine goblet with generous garnishes.
The amari family of spirits is also growing in popularity [Fernet Branca is a good example – and was the star drink of the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas this summer], as is the influx of new vermouths [such as Regal Rogue] and red Italian bitters, such as the new Martini & Rossi Bitter.
Globetrender notes, at its launch this year, Beppe Musso, Martini master blender, said: “The art of the bitter aperitivo is to create a complete and rounded sensation of bitterness in the mouth.
“This is achieved by our incredible master herbalist Ivano Tonutti slowly building up layers of different styles of bitter botanicals, one by one for a more complex profile, until all are beautifully playing together like in an orchestra creating an uplifting melody.”
Why is aperitivo catching on in cosmopolitan cities such as London and New York?
We’ve definitely seen a shift in the way people drink in recent years. There was a boom a few years back (mostly led by bartenders) that drinks needed to be boozy and intense to garner any sort of respect.
That philosophy has shifted remarkably as more and more people are not only enjoying more low alcohol, refreshing aperitivo-style drinks such as the ones we promote at Dante, but they’re actively seeking them out.
Europeans have been drinking in this way for over 150 years and it is this leisurely, elegant and relaxed style of drinking that informs everything we do at Dante and helps to drive home our message that imbibing in this way is a lifestyle not a means of getting inebriated.
Describe your signature aperitivo cocktail
The Garibaldi is our signature cocktail, which is Campari and what we call “fluffy” orange juice. It has this very unique and captivating texture by being squeezed immediately for each drink through a very high speed juice extractor. This essentially puts air into the juice so it achieves a texture that makes this drink so special and is being copied around the world.
1.5 oz. Campari
Fresh orange juice
METHOD: Add 2 ice cubes to glass
Add Campari & a little OJ. Stir well to combine
Add 1 ice cube and fill glass with OJ
GARNISH: Orange wedge and plastic stirrer
Serve on small plate