It’s no news to you that staying home this much requires a lot of mental energy. Whether you’re supervising Zoom homework sessions, cooking one million meals per week, or working from home in a tiny apartment, it’s a lot.
May we make a suggestion? Take a cue from the kids and try to treat it like camp—or a vacation. An expensive vacation, to a resort. Spring break skipped in your state? OK: Put $14 into your vacation fund for every Negroni or Bellini you make for yourself at home. Because that’s the money you’re saving (especially if you were resort-bound!)
Push it further: Take a few minutes to be crafty and make drink umbrellas, centerpieces, garlands, or whatever it’s gonna take to make you feel like you’re somewhere else. Change your outfit. Put on makeup or a tie. It’s fine. It’s great! You’ve got this.
You know who does this sort of thing right? The Italians. They are on point when it comes to relaxing in general and happy hour—or as they call it, Aperitivo. You’ll want Italian snacks (which can be as simple as Taleggio and olives or prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks). You can make Negronis by the pitcher or Aperol Spritzes in easy batches.
So throw a couple bucks towards fabulous throw pillows (ahem, we have some on sale) or patio furniture. No outdoor space? Open the windows wide; buy a few plants. Listen to Italian operas on Pandora or an Italy playlist on Spotify. Buy some martini glasses, vintage-inspired Champagne coupes, or Old Fashioned glasses. Draw on the eyeliner thick, like you’re in your own mod ‘60’s Italian flick.
Here’s what we’re drinking right now. Because spring is here, and la bella vita beckons.
Gin. Vermouth. Campari. Orange twist. There’s a reason Negronis took off so thoroughly stateside, even earning their own “week.” Equally sweet and bitter, easy on the eyes, and a breeze to make, the classic reputedly dates to Florence in the early 1900s. But its thirst-quenching qualities haven’t aged a day.
A good Aperol Spritz should not konk you out with sweetness. It should be light and fizzy, with a very subtle bitter note and depth of flavor from the Aperol (an Italian liqueur). Prosecco lends its dry bubbles; sparkling water and a slice of orange contribute effervescence and a bright, bouquet.
The traditional Bellini, redolent of fresh peaches, dates to Italy in the 1940s. Harry Cipriani, of the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice, invented it and named it for a painting by Bellini. It’s another easy one, with lemon juice balancing even the ripest peaches, and Prosecco contributing its inimitable charms. Various riffs on the beloved original exist and should be sampled, such as these charming Bellinis Three Ways.
Gaga for gin martinis? Nutty about Negronis? Welcome to your new favorite: The Gin and It. As simple as it is stunning, it comprises a two-to-one ratio of gin to sweet vermouth, a splash of orange bitters (DIY!) and a generous amount of those ruby-hued Italian national treasures: Luxardo cherries.