For this month’s Last Friday, Lillian and I decided it should have an Italian flare — directly inspired by my recent travels to Italy. Lillian and I first became friends through work but quickly came to realize how much we both liked any sort of affair that combines small bites and proper cocktails.
But, it must be noted that women who drink real, true stiff cocktails are always given a bit of a stare. For me, that started when I lived in Italy and I’d order my grandfather’s favorite summertime drink, a Campari and Soda. My Italian friends joked that I must be an old man at heart because of my incessant love for Campari and all the other bitter Italian liquors known as amari. Known for stimulating your appetitive (aka aperitivi) or helping in digestion (digestivi)– like grappa — Lillian and I drink them with no regard for the time of day.
Seeing as so much has changed in Italy since I was last here 7 years ago (including my own tastes), I wanted to make a cocktail that was a bit of a change as well. It’s those bold flavors my grandfather loved but reincarnated and updated as this bittersweet Campari Watermelon Cooler.
In this cocktail, I added in some watermelon and Chambord for sweetness and a pinch of salt to help tame the bitterness just so. It’s a cooler that’s made for sipping and snacking, which is why it’s such a perfect match to the salty, sweet, and forward flavors of Lillian’s antipasti platter. So, no matter where in the world you find yourself, I encourage you to invite a few friends over and enjoy your own aperitivo because a true happy hour is not in the geography but in the spirit!