Posted June 18, 2016

3 Aperitif Cocktails to Toast to Summer

Eat + Drink

Carpe Diem? We know all about carpe diem—there’s a street festival somewhere in the city every single day of the summer. Anyone with a patio or backyard or rooftop is instantly everyone’s best friend. So what’s everyone drinking?

Light beer—sure, there’s a place for “lawnmower” beers: light, refreshing, low ABV (that’s “alcohol by volume” for you), eminently crushable. Rosé—absolutely! Served chilled; it’s light and refreshing as well.

What I find myself craving and what I see flooding on to menus across the country during the warmer months are aperitif drinks: light, dry, and refreshing beverages served typically before a meal to whet the appetite and prepare one for the meal ahead. We’re seeing vermouth on the rocks or with soda; light bitter drinks like Aperol or Campari served with soda or Prosecco; and the classic Spanish Gin & Tonic—a large wine glass filled with ice, good gin, creative and pertinent garnishes, and lots of tonic. It’s a noble, long-standing tradition that has been gradually catching fire all over the United States…and just in time to be included in Wine Hour at some Kimpton hotels this summer!

Read on for inspiration and delight from some of our bartenders across the country!

Spanish Gin + Tonic
Pennyroyal Bar (Seattle, WA)

June - G+T_Pennyoryal_photo credit Tia White

(Photo: Tia White)

For the cocktail:

  • 2 oz. Copperworks gin
  • 1 oz. tonic syrup (recipe follows)
  • 5 oz. club soda
  • Orange zest and star anise, for garnish

For the tonic (yields 5 c.):

  • 4 c. water
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 6 tbsp. citric acid
  • 3 tbsp. cinchona bark
  • 3 stalks roughly chopped lemongrass
  • 4 oranges, roughly chopped (plus zest from 1 orange)
  • 1 lemon and 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 c. star anise pods

Directions for the tonic:

  1. Mix the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until ingredients have incorporated.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes, then strain through a mesh strainer.

Directions for the cocktail:

  1. Combine gin, tonic syrup and club soda in wide-bowled wine glass (this will make the cocktail more aromatic).
  2. Garnish with the star anise and orange peel.

Jules’s Tour du Monde
Sazerac (Seattle, WA)
Head Bartender Keith Villanueva

June - Jules' Tour du Monde_Sazerac (1)

For the cocktail:

  • 5 oz. Grey Goose vodka
  • 1 oz. Aperol
  • 5 oz. lime juice
  • Splash of prosecco


  1. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake and strain over ice.
  3. Top with prosecco and garnish with an orange peel and cherries.

Constituent Cup 
Urbana (Washington, D.C.)
Urbana’s Lead Bartender Andrea Tateosian has a refreshing Italian spritz that mimics the flavor profile of a Pimm’s Cup. The Constituent Cup is the perfect low-proof cocktail for summer made with Nardini Tagliatella, finochietto (fennel liqueur), lemon, and sugar and topped with soda water and a fresh mint garnish.

June - Constituent Cup
For the cocktail:

  • 1 oz. Tagliatella
  • 0.5 oz.  Finochietto (Andrea uses Don Ciccio)
  • 0.5  oz. lemon
  • 0.5  oz. simple syrup
  • Splash of club soda


  1. Combine the ingredients in a white wine glass.
  2. Add ice and top with club soda.
  3. Garnish with mint sprigs and a lemon wedge, and serve with a straw.


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One Comment

  1. karen weiss says:

    thanks for the new, refreshing ideas!!!!!