Amaro and Amore

A glass and bottle of Amaro Montenegro, a popular Italian amaro drink

Last week I wrote one of the best stories I’ve ever published. It’s a sunburnt 1,500-word run through the summer Allie and I met in Italy, framed as a piece about Amaro Montenegro, an Italian after-dinner drink. This one was fun to write.

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Sicilian 75

The ingredients for a Sicilian 75: blood oranges, Prosecco, Campari, and gin

Happy Friday. For this week’s happy hour we’re dipping back into our Campari series and sipping a cocktail called the Sicilian 75. We’ve had a lot of orange coverage lately here on Made in Rome. Allie and I usually go on a citrus kick this time of year. We both eat a ton of fruit, and nothing beats a fresh blood orange in late winter. Nothing but a fresh blood orange turned into a drink!

The Sicilian 75 is a refreshing riff on the French 75. Allie and I are fans of the classic French 75, made from Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar. We like to fill pitchers with French 75 variations. And this Campari-spiked variation may be the best of them all.

About to pour the Prosecco into a Sicilian 75 cocktail

How does a Sicilian 75 differ from the classic? We skip lemons for blood oranges (juiced and sliced). We add a splash of Campari that itself adds musk and mystery and an elusive flavor that can take you to lounge-chaired docks on foreign seas.

We skip Champagne for Prosecco. We watch the frothy, white-foam, citrus-fragrant, to-the-top, glorious meniscus pour!

A variation on the French 75, a Sicilian 75, being poured

The Champagne fizz of a Sicilian 75 cocktail subsiding

This is a great drink for brunch. This is a great drink before, during, or after dinner. I adapted a Sicilian 75 recipe from Saveur. You won’t regret filling up a glass or two of these this weekend. Hope you enjoy yours.

What you need:

3 parts blood orange juice, plus a slice for garnish

2 parts gin

.75 parts simple syrup (or honey syrup)

Splash of Campari

2 parts Prosecco

What to do: Put everything but the orange slice and Prosecco into a shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds. Pour into a flute. Add 2 Parts Prosecco… or however many parts bring the surge of froth to the brim. Drink.

A glass of Sicilian 75, an Italian version of the French 75 cocktail, with an orange slice garnish

Classic Negroni

A classic Italian cocktail: the negroni

Welcome to parte due of Made in Rome’s Campari series! Dust off your cocktail shaker, break out that electric red bottle, and be sure you have ice. You don’t need much more for today’s drink, the classic negroni, one of Italy’s oldest and best.

A classic negroni is gin, vermouth, and Campari. (You see thousands of variations today, with bartenders mixing in rosé and mezcal, chocolate and pumpkin, smoke… anything they can get their busy hands and creative minds on.)

The ingredients for a negroni cocktail: campari, gin, and vermouth

A classic negroni is gin, vermouth, and Campari–but also something deeper. If you’re a negroni drinker, wind back the clock to your first taste. What did you think? Here’s what I thought: this nice bitter drink with its sweet citrus edge and fancy glass tastes how I imagined, when I was young, cocktails would one day taste. This was what came out of unknown bottles from unknown places. This was what people in suits and black dresses sipped to jazz. This!–even now–is the impression the negroni creates: a vague sophistication that’s at the wild heart of what a cocktail is.

A classic negroni cocktail with an orange twist

Allie and I served negronis at our wedding. During cocktail hour, we did “his” and “hers” drinks passed around in addition to what was available at the bar. Allie did a nice mulled cider. (It was late December!) I served a variation on the negroni–a negroni sbagliato, which softens the drink’s punch by swapping in Prosecco for gin.

You can try that if you want. I’m a sucker for classics. Here’s how you make the original hard-hitting, Campari-spiked, century-old negroni.   -Chris

What you need:

2 shots gin

1 shot vermouth

1 shot Campari

Orange twists (optional)

What to do: Pour everything (but twists) into a shaker with ice. Shake hard for 15 seconds. Pour into glasses with or without fresh ice. Add twists. Makes 2 drinks.

Maple Bourbon Sour

A full glass of bourbon sour.

Lemon, rosemary, maple syrup and bourbon, all ingredients for a nice bourbon sour.

A maple bourbon sour with a rosemary sprig and lemon slice.

A sour made with bourbon, rosemary, maple syrup, and lemon

Allie recently got me a cocktail book, Shake. The book features laid back recipes for simple but stellar cocktails. I recommend glancing through the book (or at least making this drink) if you have even a flicker of interest in cocktails. These drinks are good, no-nonsense, and a nice stepping stone to the next level if you want to get there.

I was pretty fired up to find this rosemary maple bourbon sour recipe on page 139. Sour drinks are my favorite: whiskey sours, pisco sours, even absinthe sours, tart wines like Rieslings, and all the way to sour beers like gose and sour ale. Allie isn’t a whiskey drinker, but this drink’s rosemary hint, lemon zap, maple goodness, and slight bourbon sweetness combine to make a top-notch drink even she will sip.

We’ll be filling a shaker or two for our friends during the game tomorrow.

Here’s what you need (recipe adapted from Shake):

3 shots bourbon

1.5 to 2 shots lemon juice (2 if you’ve got a taste for sour, like me)

3/4 shot maple syrup

1 sprig rosemary

Lots of ice

What to do: Fill a short glass with ice. Add everything to a shaker with (more) ice. Shake for 15 seconds. Pour into iced glass. Garnish with rosemary + lemon. Makes 2 drinks.

Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine for two with honey spoons, orange wedges, and cinnamon sticks.

Close up of star anise floating on top of mulled wine

Portrait shot of mulled wine for two people.

Overhead shot of a warm glass of spiced wine.

Welcome to Friday happy hour! On Fridays we’re going to post about adult beverages of all stripes, colors, flavors, potencies, and combinations. Wine. Beer. Spirits. Liqueurs. Bitters. Everything from A to Z, from absinthe to Zucca–and we’re going to start heady, hot, and old-school with mulled wine.

Messing around with drinks has long been a hobby of mine. This mulled wine is pretty much a potent warm sangria, potent spice-wise and booze-wise. When the polar winds blow or the flakes start to fall, put on this nice wine blanket.

Here’s what you need:

750 ml cheap Pinot Noir (Pinot is good for its smoke, but any red will work)

4 cinnamon sticks

Juice of one orange

Juice of one lemon

2 shots brandy

1 shot honey (1.5 shots if you’ve got a sharp sweet tooth like Allie!)

Pinch of nutmeg

3-4 Star Anise (optional; adds a baroque fennel-like spice)

What to do: Combine in a pot. Stir. For 15 minutes, simmer so low and slow that only an occasional lazy bubble is barely able to straggle up and break the surface. (We don’t want the alcohol to evaporate!) That’s all she wrote. Makes 4 awesome drinks.