Death in Florence

Death in Florence, made with Aperol
Death in Florence, made with Aperol

This is a deliberate twist on Tony Conigliaro’s original Death in Venice cocktail, as I am not as keen on the Campari used in that version. I much prefer the lighter, orange notes of Aperol, the drink that you will find consumed much more readily for an aperitivo around Florence & Tuscany. The recipe also uses the grapefruit bitters I made back in early December.

The final drink has a good bitter bite, but some really refreshing citrus flavours, too. It’s important (I think) to get a really good, dry prosecco for this – if the wine is too sweet, the grapefruit bitters will jar, and the final drink won’t be nearly as refreshing.


1 measure of Aperol

Dashes of grapefruit bitters


Glass: Champagne bowl

Pour measure of Aperol into chilled glass & add dashes of bitters; top up with prosecco. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Aperol Spritz

An Aperol Spritz, mixed in Tuscany
An Aperol Spritz, mixed in Tuscany

Without trying to sound too bumptious, surely one of the key pleasures of a holiday is learning to adjust to a different rhythm or routine. Here in Tuscany for a couple of weeks, it is clear that Italians regard alcohol as an accompaniment to food, not as something consumed by itself; the end of the day is not marked by the cocktail hour, but by an aperitivo, to be drunk as a pre-cursor to dinner, to sharpen the appetite, and invariably accompanied by a few small things to eat (salatini in Italian), provided by the bar, much like tapas in Spain. Italians do not seem to drink cocktails in the way we do, so in the light of doing as Romans, when in Rome, this mixed drink recipe reflects their culture.

One of the classic aperitivo drinks is an Aperol spritz: Aperol is similar to Campari, but flavour is much lighter (as is the alcohol content) and more pronounced citrus tone. I prefer it to Campari for these reasons, and here in Tuscany you will find bars offer it (or an equivalent) as the default drink between 5 and 7 pm.

A classic Spritz is composed of two measures of Aperol, three of Prosecco, and a final measure of soda water. According to the company’s own recipe, you should pour the Prosecco first to prevent the Aperol settling at the bottom of the glass, although I haven’t noticed this to be a problem so far; I usually pour the Aperol over ice, add the Prosecco and give the mixture a gentle stir, then top up with the soda. Use lots of ice and garnish with a large slice of orange. It must be enjoyed with plenty of conversation and a little something to nibble on.