At the end of a long day, a cocktail is an easy way to prevent that miserable feeling of hanger (hunger + anger). But drinking on an empty stomach can sometimes leave me a little too loopy — or lazy — to cook. Then I end up watching America's Next Top Model, eating a fried egg over salad greens again. This may sound like fun, but it's rarely the evening I plan for.
Enter Aperol. This bittersweet poppy-colored Italian aperitif has a lower alcohol content than its similarly invigorating and brightly-colored cousin Campari, so it's easy on an empty stomach. My best friend used to live in Padova, Italy and she brought me back a bottle a few summers ago, which I promptly drained over ice with club soda. (Over several nights — don't judge.) This remains my favorite way to drink Aperol.
The Italians favor a Spritz (as you can see above), which subs Prosecco for most of the club soda. I'm not big on Prosecco (for some reason it keeps me up all night, not in a good way) so I concocted another combination last week when I came home borderline hangry, intent on not letting the dinner ingredients in the fridge go to waste. I needed a substantial cocktail that wouldn't put me into the "I'll just make eggs" zone. Here's what I did:
I made an Americano — Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water — but subbed my adored Aperol for the Campari. I poured a shot each of Aperol and Italian sweet vermouth over ice, and then filled the rest of the glass with club soda.
Then, I made dinner. To be fair, I had already made some eggplant caponata over the weekend, so I put that on the stove, boiled some water for whole wheat pappardelle (yummy wide-ribbon pasta), and mounded up some pretty epic turkey meatballs.
By the time my drink was drained, dinner was done. Thankfully, I was not.
TIPS FOR LAZY AND CREATIVE BOOZERS
• For an easier alternative, try just Aperol and soda. (I highly recommend investing in a Sodastream machine, which saves money and plastic bottles.)
• My next bottle of sweet vermouth will be Carpano Antica, which I hear is far superior, but I'm waiting for my (entirely sufficient) $10 Boizziere to run out. If you don't have sweet vermouth at home, I hear Carpano Antica is worth its $30 price tag. (Leave a comment and let me know!)
• Orange slices are a great compliment for Aperol drinks.
• Lots of liquor stores carry Aperol these days so you don't have to wait for a generous friend to return from Italy. It's $27 at Union Square Wines.
Jenni Avins mixes drinks in her New York kitchen, where she also writes about food, fashion, travel, and the arts for various magazines and websites. She makes videos too. Follow her on Twitter @jenniavins