All these apéritifs taste great on the rocks, but these garden-to-glass cocktails take them to the next level.

Easy Apéritif Recipes to Make at Home
Courtesy of Ortolan Rosolio
About 30 different varieties of heirloom garden roses go into Ortolan Rosolio. Here, it's paired with vodka and lemon juice in The Californian.

Created for enjoying at any time of day, apéritifs (aperitivo in Italian) are optimal light cocktails for opening your palate. With a higher alcohol by volume percentage than wine, all aperitifs can withstand being watered down by ice, making them the perfect pairing for just about any time of year.

Take Ortolan Rosolio, for example. Robert Collier creates this rosolio that’s centered on roses, and much lighter on the palate than its well-known Italian cousin, the liqueur amaro. “With amaros, the focus is on packing a whole lot of flavor into the taste,” Collier says. “With rosolios, the emphasis is on creating something more ethereal, that impacts the olfactory more than the tongue.”

About 30 varieties of heirloom garden roses go into the rosolio from Appanage Brands, co-founded by Collier and Amy Navor. The pair source flowers from farms in wine country near Santa Barbara and Sonoma, all boasting different flavors and colors and scents.

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Add a bottle of light pink Ortolan Rosolio to your bar cart and you’ll keep returning to its versatility. You can sip it neat over ice, with an orange twist or a sprig of mint. It’s also a true modifier that can be added to any spirit, Collier says. Just don’t mix it with peaty scotch. 

“I really meant it to be something where you can take any spirit and a little citrus, or something acidic,” Collier adds, “mix them together, and have a really complex and delicious—but easy to make—drink.”

About 30 different varieties of heirloom garden roses go into Ortolan Rosolio, a “true modifier” that can be combined with any spirit, co-founder Robert Collier says.

Courtesy of Ortolan Rosolio

For starters, try sparkling water and a good squeeze of lime, then watch it change color—from amber salmon to a brighter pink—due to the interplay between the acidity and rose pigments. “People really like it in a spritz,” Collier says, though his favorite is with non-dosage Champagne.

Craft a mezcal margarita with one ounce each of mezcal and Ortolan and three-quarters of an ounce of lime juice— plus a bar spoon of agave syrup, if that’s your thing. Or, you can take a martini approach, combining 1.5 ounces of dry gin and one ounce of Ortolan. Just don’t forget a green olive, Collier says.

“We like to think it enhances classic cocktails, so think of something you like and try incorporating,” Collier says of the rosolio. “Bartenders are coming up with amazing things that I would never have thought of.” 

In the winter, Collier combines equal parts pear brandy and Ortolan, stirred martini-style and served with a sprig of fresh thyme. For an Old Fashioned, Collier uses bourbon instead of rye. “No need for a sugar cube or bitters unless you want the latter,” he adds, “served with an orange twist.” 

The team behind Ortolan has plenty of recipes on their website, but we’re sharing one with you here. In addition to Ortolan, all these apéritifs taste great on the rocks; but these garden-to-glass cocktails take them to the next level.