Time for a Drink: Contessa

Time for a Drink: Contessa

[Photo: Jessica Leibowitz]

Mojitos and mint juleps are wonderful warm-weather drinks. But sometimes a late-spring or early-summer day requires a drink with a bit of an edge, a spark bright enough to match the waning light of a late sunset.

The Contessa has such an edge, and a flavor that to me is particularly seasonal. Created several years ago by bartenders in Boston, the Contessa is a slight tweak on the classic Negroni, substituting the bright bitter-orange flavor of the Italian aperitivo Aperol for the deeper, more assertive bitterness of the garnet Campari.

With a pleasantly bitter bite and the color of a sunset, Aperol makes the Contessa an excellent aperitif--or simply a refreshing cooler for an early summer weekend. The recipe, after the jump.


About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.


  • 1 ounce gin (Beefeater is recommended)
  • 1 ounce Aperol
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth (Cinzano is recommended)


  1. 1.

    The Contessa is comfortable in two variations: for the first, simply combine the ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice; stir well for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. For the second variation, stir with ice as above and strain into a rocks or old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Either way, be sure to twist a piece of orange peel over the drink and use as garnish.

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