Mixing It Up - A Night of Italian Craft Cocktails With Barbatella
Updated: Jun 1
When we found out Barbatella, a Third Street South favorite, was hosting a mixology class, we thought it was about time we learned how to make something other than a "vodka soda with a lot of limes."
We'll admit it, as much as we love to partake in happy hour, we don’t know the first thing about what goes into our favorite cocktails behind the bar. Don’t get us wrong, we’re happy to uncork a bottle of wine or open up some margarita mix, but the thought of anything involving a cocktail shaker has us running for the hills.
When we found out Barbatella, a Third Street South favorite, was hosting a mixology class, we thought it was about time we learned how to make something other than a “vodka soda with a lot of limes.”
Master Mixologist Alex Alfonso stepped in to host the class, and came prepared with a menu of Italian-inspired cocktails (and some pretty clever jokes, we might add). We started off the evening with a welcome glass of crisp Prosecco and some light bites, then quickly moved on to make four classic cocktails.
A Classic Italian Negroni
Alfonso’s favorite cocktail is a Negroni, and for good reason. The apertivo (we used Galliano) in this drink actually works to open up the appetite when enjoyed before a meal, and helps with digestion after a meal as well (when we asked Alfonso if it’s better to drink before or after a meal, he emphatically said “both”). This drink consists of one part apertivo, one part gin and one part vermouth. The drink is stirred, not shaken, so you can even make it directly in the glass. Just add ice and stir, then garnish with orange peel if you’re feeling fancy.
1.0 oz Fords Gin
1.0 oz Galliano Aperitivo
1.0 Routin Sweet Vermouth
Combine all the ingredients right in your glass and stir.
Garnish with an orange peel + enjoy!
Always add ice last. A single big ice cube is preferred, as it melts slower and prevents the drink from getting watered down. Stirring, instead of shaking, also keeps the ice from diluting the drink too much.
Mojito - But Make It Italian
Mojitos can be tricky. We’ve all had one that was too sweet or unbalanced, but Alfonso set the record straight for us with this refreshing recipe. He made sure to tell us these are meant to be enjoyed by the pitcher, not the glass, so they’re more refreshing than strong. Make it “Italian” by subbing sugar or simple syrup for Solerno, a sweet blood orange liqueur. For the other ingredients, keep it simple with rum (we used Flor de Cana), lime juice and mint leaves. Give this combo a couple shakes and strain into a tall glass with fresh ice, then top with soda water. Garnish with more mint and lime wedges for an extra fresh finish.
1.5 oz Flor de Cana
0.5 oz Solerno
6 Fresh Mint Leaves
0.5 oz Simple Syrup
0.5 oz Lime Juice
Combine, shake + strain into a glass
Top with soda water
Garnish with mint stem and a lime wheel
This may sound silly, but it totally works. Give the fresh mint leaves a slap with the palm of your hand before adding to your mojito to help release the fragrant essential oils.
A Touch of Tequila
This twist on a margarita was by far our favorite cocktail of the night. The tequila (we used Herradura Ultra) and fresh lemon juice are classic margarita, but the addition of Disaronno Amaretto gives it an Italian flair. Amaretto has a super sweet almond-y taste, but is actually made from apricot pits (we bet you didn’t know that when you were stealing it from your friend’s parents’ liquor cabinet in high school). Add a splash of chickpea water (more on this later) and give it a good shake. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with lemon.
1.5 oz Herradura Ultra
0.75 Disaronno Amaretto
0.5 oz Chickpea Water
0.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Combine, shake + strain over ice
Garnish with a lemon wheel!
Ever had a super frothy egg white cocktail, but got slightly freaked out by the fact it had raw egg in it? Simply swap for chickpea water, and you’ll still get a deliciously frothy finish. Instead of throwing
out messy yolks and shells, all you need to do is drain the liquid from a can of chickpeas (you can even use the chickpeas themselves for a happy hour hummus with your Di’Sarita).
An Italian Nightcap
This drink is so fun to enjoy as a “dessert drink” after a fun dinner out. For this recipe, we combined vodka (we used Stoli Elit), Grappa (Alfonso says it’s making a comeback, you heard it here first!), Galliano Ristretto coffee liqueur, simple syrup and cold brew coffee (compliments of local favorite Bad Ass Coffee). Give the ingredients a shake and strain into a cocktail glass (you’ve probably been calling it a “martini glass,” but Alfonso set us straight) and top with a swirl of heavy cream from a squeeze bottle. Grate a little fresh nutmeg over the top if you happen to have that laying around, and enjoy.
1.5 oz Stoli Elit
0.5 oz Gra'it Grappa
0.5 oz Galliano Ristretto
0.25 oz Simple Syrup
1.0 oz Cold Brew Coffee
Combine, shake + strain into your glass
Layer heavy cream on top + garnish with your choice of fun ingredients
Don’t try and sub half and half for the heavy cream (it will just sink to the bottom in
a pretty unappetizing way). Now that we have a full arsenal of drink recipes, we’re excited to host the next happy hour. But, if all else fails, simply remember Alfonso’s 2-1-1 rule: two parts liquor (vodka, tequila, gin, etc.), one part sweeter (simple syrup, agave or maple) and one part citrus (fresh lemon or lime) for an easy drink that’s guaranteed to taste good.