The Aperol Negroni is an absolutely delicious, refreshing cocktail that is perfect for summertime! It's a spin on a traditional Negroni cocktail, but using Aperol instead of Campari really changes the flavor here. I've also swapped out the sweet vermouth for dry, since Aperol is a little sweeter than Campari, and the result is so tasty! This is a great drink option for anyone looking for a little-bit-lighter version of a Negroni.
I love this drink in the summer, but it is really a great year-round sippable cocktail. It's based on the Negroni, a classic cocktail that was invented in 1919 in Florence, Italy.
With the worldwide popularity of that drink, an Aperol Negroni version was not far behind! This version is a little lighter, with less of the complex bitterness of Campari. Best known for the Aperol Spritz, Aperol aperitif liqueur is also a staple at bars worldwide, so the substitution was a natural step.
Aperol and Campari are actually made by the same company, the Campari Group, and they're both Italian aperitifs. Aperol has a lower alcohol content than Campari at only 11% (Campari is 24% alcohol), and has a lighter, less bitter flavor profile to go along with its vibrant orange color. Citrus, herbaceous notes and fresh rhubarb are all flavors you'll find in Aperol.
The Negroni Sbagliato is another absolutely delicious variation on this classic cocktail, using Prosecco instead of gin. Or, try out a White Negroni, which uses Suze along with dry vermouth for a less sweet and more bitter version of this drink. Gin and Aperol are also a great combination in my Fade to Pink cocktail!
Here's what you'll need to make this Aperol Negroni recipe.
- Gin - the best gin to use here is a dry gin, like a London dry gin style, with lots of juniper. I've used The Botanist gin here, but Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray would work well too.
- Aperol - Aperol liqueur is an Italian amaro, which is a bittersweet liqueur. It has a lot of bitterness with notes of bitter citrus and herbal flavors, but also adds a lot of sweetness. It is lower in alcohol than Campari at only 11% (Campari is 24% alcohol).
- Vermouth - many recipes call for sweet vermouth, but I really prefer dry vermouth in this drink, since the Aperol is a little sweeter and less bitter than Campari. Vermouth is a fortified wine, which means extra alcohol, usually along with more sweetness, herbs and spices, are added to a wine base. I've used Noilly Prat here. Another easy to find brand is Martini & Rossi.
- Lemon peel garnish - this is optional, but really brings a nice finishing citrus flavor and aroma to the drink. You can also use orange peel, or even a slice of orange, which are both traditional for a Negroni.
Here are some ways you can substitute the ingredients in this cocktail:
- Gin - if you don't have gin, try using vodka, light rum or tequila blanco.
- Aperol - this kinda defines the drink, and it's pretty easy to find! That said, you can use a different type of Italian red amaro. Aperitivo Cappelletti or Contratto Aperitif are both wonderful choices.
- Vermouth - you can use sweet vermouth if you don't have dry vermouth. Or, try using an aromatized wine like Lillet. You can also just use wine or a sparkling wine like Prosecco.
Here are some variations on this recipe:
- Aperol Boulevardier - by swapping out the gin in this drink for bourbon whiskey, you've got yourself an Aperol Boulevardier! A classic Boulevardier is based on the Negroni, swapping out gin for bourbon. For this one, I like the sweet vermouth instead of dry.
- Virgin - if you're avoiding alcohol, you can make something close to this drink. Try making it using Monday Zero Alcohol Gin, Lyre's Italian Orange and Lyre's Aperitif Dry.
- Squeeze of lemon - adding in a squeeze of ½ lemon brings in some sourness and brightness to the drink. I recommend this if you are using equal parts of the three ingredients to cut back on the sweetness! If you like the version with lemon, also try out my delicious Gin Campari Sour.
You'll just need a few bar tools to make this drink. I recommend having a heavy-bottomed mixing glass to stir the ingredients with ice. You'll also need a jigger, and a long bar spoon. To make the lemon peel garnish, grab a vegetable peeler, plus a paring knife and cutting board.
For the serving glass, this is traditionally made in a lowball glass or rocks glass. You can also opt to serve it in a stemmed coupe glass without ice.
If you're making the lemon peel garnish, get it prepared before mixing up the drink. Use a vegetable peeler to cut a long piece of the lemon peel.
Then, clean up the edges of the peel using a paring knife. Set it aside while you make the cocktail.
Add the gin and vermouth to a cocktail mixing glass.
Add in the Aperol and fill the mixing glass with ice cubes.
Stir the mixture with ice for about 30 seconds, until it is well chilled and perfectly diluted.
Add fresh ice to your cocktail glass.
Strain the drink into your serving glass, and then grab your prepared lemon peel. Squeeze the peel while it's over top of the drink so the lemon oils spray over the surface of the liquid.
Curl the lemon peel into a spiral or twist, and then add it to the edge of the glass. Serve and enjoy!
Hint: using a single large ice cube is perfect for this cocktail! It will melt more slowly than using smaller pieces of ice in the serving glass, while still keeping the drink cold.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes -- that's what this recipe is all about! The Aperol Negroni is a delicious twist on the classic drink. My version also substitutes dry vermouth for sweet.
In short, they both make delicious drinks! Aperol is better for those who prefer a lighter and sweeter version. Campari is better for those who prefer a more bitter, complex and strong drink.
Aperol is the sweeter and less bitter of these two amari liqueurs. It also has less alcohol, clocking in at 11% compared to Campari's 24%.
Top Tip: Make-ahead
Since there are no juices involved, this is a great drink to make ahead in a large batch! Just multiply the ingredients by the number of cocktails you want to make. Add in ½ ounce (22 ml) of water per cocktail.
Mix everything in a large pitcher and keep it in the fridge. Then, to serve, just add ice to the serving glass and pour 3 ounces (~180 ml) per drink. You can keep the pitcher in the fridge, or keep it on ice for your party guests to serve themselves. Cheers!
- fresh lemon peel (optional)
- If you're using a lemon peel for garnish, prepare it before making the drink. Use a vegetable peeler to cut a long piece of peel.
- Then, use a paring knife to straighten out the sides of the piece of peel. Set it aside while you make the drink.
- Measure and add the gin, dry vermouth, and Aperol to a cocktail mixing glass.
- Fill the mixing glass with ice.
- Stir everything well, for about 30 seconds. This will dilute and chill the liquid.
- Add fresh ice to your serving glass.
- Strain the drink over top of the fresh ice in the glass.
- Express the lemon oils from your piece of peel by squeezing it in half over top of the drink.
- Then, give the lemon peel a twist and rest it on the rim of the glass. Serve and enjoy!
- Don't be afraid to play around with the ratios of this drink to your own personal taste preference! Many people enjoy this drink with equal parts of the three ingredients. I personally love it this way, with more gin in proportion to the Aperol and vermouth.
- If you want to go the extra mile and use clear ice to serve this drink, I highly recommend getting an ice sphere maker. Make sure it says that it will make "clear ice" -- this inexpensive ice sphere maker is highly rated.