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Negroni Sbagliato spritz cocktail

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better way to relax in the warm weather, than with a refreshing Spritz. I was introduced to the Spritz when I went to coffee school in 2007, in Trieste, Italy. I drank at least six cups of espresso every day – how could I not? – surprising even the Italian teachers. And by the end of the day, I needed to wind down.

Negroni Sbagliato spritz cocktail

So after class, I’d go to a local caffè in the early evening where I noticed everyone drinking colorful drinks in large, wide goblets filled with handfuls of ice. Since icy beverages are often hard to come by in some countries in Europe, it was surprising to see people drinking cold drinks loaded up with ice. And I wanted one.

That was when I found myself enjoying my very first Italian Spritz. But it wasn’t my last. I was also stunned (and delighted) by all the food they offer in Italian bars during the aperitivo hour that’s included in the price of your drink. As an Italian friend of mine said when I asked her about it – “Of course they do, because it’s nice to have something to eat when you are having a drink – don’t you think so?” Yes, I do.

Negroni Sbagliato spritz cocktail

I love a classic Negroni but to be honest, they’re quite strong and it’s hard to drink more than one. Since I tend to chug whatever drink is in my hand, whether its a glass of water or a tumbler of straight vodka, (I go through drinks quickly – consider yourself warned in case you ever meet me in a bar and think about picking up my check…), it’s nice to have a cocktail that’s light in alcohol, yet full of flavor.

So I was delighted when I tried the Negroni Sbagliato from a charming ode to the variety of Italian sparklers, Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau. I was talking to Talia a while back about how much I liked the Spritz and noted that they seemed like they were ready for a revival.

Negroni spritz cocktail recipe

She and her co-author Leslie beat me to the punch, or the Spritz, because this handy guide had a number of recipes I’ve got bookmarked for this summer. I’ve tried several of them and they’ve all been winners. But it was the Negroni Sbagliato stood out.

Negroni Sbagliato spritz cocktail

This flavor-forward drink has the predominant components of a Negroni, except the gin, using prosecco to add a bit of fizz and lighten things up. Prosecco is an affordable sparkling wine from Italy and you don’t need to use the fanciest one. Campari has a lively, uncompromising bitterness, although other red bitters, like Bruto Americano, Tempus Fugit Grand Classico, Dolin, St. Agrestis, Forthave Aperitivo, and Cappelleti, will also work.

Negroni Sbagliato spritz cocktail

Negroni Sbagliato Spritz

Adapted from Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitif Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau
  • 1 ounce Campari, (or another red bitter aperitif, see post)
  • 1 ounce sweet red vermouth
  • 3 ounces prosecco
  • Garnish: orange half-wheel
  • Put a handful of ice cubes in a tumbler or footed goblet glass.
  • Add the Campari, vermouth, and prosecco to the glass. Stir gently, then garnish with an orange half-wheel.

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    • Lucy @ La Lingua

    The sbagliato is definitely my favourite cocktail :) the bitter orange of the Negroni with a little less punch (and prosecco makes everything better!) Apparently it was created at Bar Basso in Milan where they serve it up in large glasses with what can only be described as icebergs xxx

    • Hafsa

    Such a lovely article and I am going to try this drink :)

    • Lillie

    Your post brings back wonderful memories — we used to drink spritzers at my parents lake house years ago in the Texas Hill country. The BEST drink on a hot day.

    • The Italian Dish

    That sounds like the perfect twist to a Negroni!

    • Allyson

    Coffee school is a thing? It sounds like a wonderful excuse to go to Italy, learn about coffee, and sip on cocktails like this one. I’m not a huge negroni person, but I may try this one to cure the wanderlust I’m suddenly filled with.

    • italiangirlcooks

    As a kid, I recall my (Italian) parents using prosecco and sweet vermouth in their cocktails. Not to mention (religiously) following meals with demitasse.

    • Linda Handelsman

    I’ve been put off by cocktails containing Campari due to the red food color. Is there any substitute that comes anywhere close to the same flavor? It seems I’m really missing something.

      • Catherine

      Aperol Aperitivo

        • Linda Handelsman

        Doesn’t that also contain red dye? I thought it did.

          • David
          David Lebovitz

          I’ve heard that Cappelletti Aperitivo doesn’t have dye in it, but I’m not 100% sure of that. Leopold Bros. makes an Italian-style aperitivo (made in America) that is naturally colored and looks interesting although I haven’t tried it.

            • Linda Handelsman

            Good tip! I’ll see if I can find it and check it out. Does it taste at all like the others?

            • David
            David Lebovitz

            I haven’t tried it. (It’s not easy to find some of the more elusive vermouths in France.) I would go into a good liquor store and ask the staff, if there is one in your area.

            • Ed

            Hi David: I’ve had the Leopold Bros. Aperitivo, very good, more aromatic than some of the others. I was able to find it at Astor Wines in NYC (they ship). I was wondering if you have had a chance to try Pampelle , It’s a red grapefruit based aperitivo. I’ve seen it on IG, but it’s not available in the US yet.

            • David
            David Lebovitz

            I’ve not seen it in France either, so haven’t tried it.

        • David
        David Lebovitz

        Thanks. I didn’t know they made a bitter aperitivo. Also St. Georges in Oakland is making an apertivo as well, and said they will release it shortly.

        • Linda

        Thanks! Now lets see if my local liquor store monopoly carries it. Here’s hoping!

    • Debra

    Yum! Looks delish!

    • Chandler in Las Vegas

    David, love the cocktail posts. Love this recipe. This looks like a nice alternative to my regular Campari-soda. What Sweet Vermouth do you use or recommend?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I use Dolin (French) vermouth.

        • Chandler in Las Vegas

        Thank you! I appreciate the authentic DL experience.

    • nicola a,

    Americano… in the right way- no match

    • penny mcconnel

    I am curious about the name of the drink as sbagliato means mistake or wrong. Any ideas?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      According to the Spritz book, it means “mistaken” or “incorrect,” which is kind of a charming way to describe a variation : )

    • LC Smith

    another option is one I had at a Jamie Oliver restaurant in Bath – made with Campari, Prosecco and fresh orange juice – light, festive and refreshing. It’s called the Milano while the one described here as Sbagliato is called an Americano there.

    • Mar

    David… any plans for a cocktail book of your own? I know I’m not the only one I’d buy it!

      • Mar

      “who’d buy it”, I meant.

        • Dan

        Would buy two copies and gift one immediately!

    • Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Sbagliato but NOT wrong. This will have to be my signature drink since I was born a stone throw away from Trieste. We love the Aperol Spritz and I’m sure this will be just as delicious. Non è sbagliato ma perfectto.

    • Stephanie Daye

    ahh.. negronis have a special place in my heart but i think i will definitely add this lovely-and light- aperitif to my summer drink collection! an i’m with you dave (re: any drink in your hand). I’m from the East Coast (Halifax) and we’ve been known to drink a boatload of cocktails when offered haha!

    • Carter

    So an Americano, but with Prosecco in place of club soda.

    • Freddy

    I swear that I moments before reading your blog I poured a little Italian vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula) into a pedestrian Prosecco to zip it up. I was pleased with “my discovery” and proud for about 2 minutes.

    A coincidence? I think not. ;)


    • ron shapley

    Dave……A stupid question from a typically non-imbiber but sweet vermouth or dry vermouth ??

    • Carol

    I have recently moved to Mallorca, Spain and have discovered Aperol which is very similar, we have it with Cava and orange rind and lots of ice….delish!!

    • Dan

    Negroni happens to be my favorite cocktail, so now I really want to try this one. I wonder if a dash of flavouring bitters would compensate for a uninteresting choice of Vermouth, as I find it does in a negroni. And if you thought the Vermouth variety was lacking in Paris, try Sweden.

    • Deborah

    David, apologies for being off topic: I substituted a one lb daikon radish for the turnip in your Sept 2012 pickle recipe and added just a bit to your Feb 2008 KimChee–Heaven! Wanted to say thanks!
    Love those archives!

    • Anne

    I’m relieved – I thought I was the only one who always chugs their drinks… I’ve never understood other people’s restraint! This looks and sounds great – will definitely try it.

      • Gavrielle

      Me three! I can toss back a cocktail like nobody’s business. What is all that sipping about? As a result, I have to stop at one, which is sad and disappointing and no way to live your life.

    • Tunie

    Just what I’ve been searching for! This is going with me to the beach in a thermos! I’ve been looking for an alternative to beer for the cooler and this sounds perfect!! Light voltage, but still capable of facilitating relaxation, and sooo much more grown up. Thank you so much!

    • Gail

    The Cappelletti is wonderful. Another recipe is to float a blood orange in a glass of Prosecco and a tad of Cappelletti. Beautiful color – Thanks to the Shed in Healdsburg, CA USA.

    • Elizabeth

    I recently enjoyed a version of this cocktail, made with Strawberry Cappeletti, Cocchi Rose and Rose Lambrusco, divine!

    • Richard Lander

    Great cocktail! We used Leopold Bros Aperitivo as the bitters. It’s a great substitute for Campari. Out of Denver. And Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. Thanks!


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