One of our things about our trip to Italy was our frequent cocktail breaks.
These particular cocktails were especially delicious, and they were served on a fantastic balcony overlooking the main square, or Campo, in Siena — if you make it to Siena, check out Key Largo and go upstairs to enjoy this fantastic view!
Another one of our favorite cocktails and drinking spots was the rooftop bar at our hotel, Grand Hotel Cavour in Florence.
They called these Deep Purples, although I haven’t seen similar recipes in Google searches and I might quibble with the color description.
We were so enthusiastic about some of our drinks that we decided to replicate them at home. In fact, Cute W ordered special syrups while we were still on vacation so that they’d be waiting for us when we arrived home and we could indulge immediately. Some of the cocktails are well-established and have all sorts of versions around the internet, while the Florence bar cocktail seems like something they just made up, but kindly included the ingredients on the menu. In all cases we are all about simplifying and tweaking to taste, and we are both sweet-tooth drinkers, so if you are not, these may not be for you.
The Cocktail from Florence
- 2 oz. vodka
- 2 oz. (or less) blackberry syrup
- 2 oz. lime juice
- 3 oz. soda water
Combine the first 3 ingredients and mix with ice, add soda water to taste. If you fear this will be too sweet, start with 1 oz. of syrup and add to taste. You can also add more soda water to make it a tall glass that’s less potent. Garnish with a citrus slice if you like — Cute W was inspired to dehydrate some slices as cocktail garnishes, and these make it feel a little more fancy.
- Mint sprig
- 1 oz. elderflower syrup or elderflower liqueur
- 4 oz. Prosecco (or other sparkling white wine)
- 2 oz. soda water
- more mint and/or lime slice for garnish
Put mint spring at the bottom of the glass and pour elderflower syrup over it, then muddle it a bit. Add Prosecco, soda water, and ice and mix it, making sure to move the minty sweetness around. Garnish with more mint and a slice of lime (okay, we did an orange for that one ’cause that’s what we had).
And finally, I’d be remiss if I neglected another cocktail, the favorite that we brought home from our long-ago trip to Spain. This is a quick-and-easy variation on a sangria that we continue to love to drink years later.
Tinto de Verano
- Half a can of a lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7-Up
- About a glass of red wine
- C. 1 oz. (aka 2 T) of lime juice
I am less precise about this one because we figured it out a while ago and I don’t really think about it these days. But basically, the ratio is equal parts soda and wine, then a splash of lime juice to taste, all served over ice and stirred around. This is a quick drink, so I often won’t even bother to squeeze fresh limes, I’ll just squirt some RealLime into it. I’ll actually usually make two, so I’ll add ice and pour an inch or two of soda into each glass, then an inch or two from our ever-present red wine box (Black Box Malbec, usually), then a squirt of lime, then repeat the soda/wine until the can’s gone and the glasses are full. Sure, this would be prettier with a lime garnish, too, but whatever.