5 Core Aperitifs Every Home Bar Needs

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Every home bar should have a couple of aperitifs. An aperitif is an alcoholic beverage that’s meant to stimulate your appetite. You can expect it to be more on the dry side rather than sweet. Some of the most common types of aperitifs are fortified wine, liqueur and dry champagne. For those looking to make their own cocktails at home, you’ll want to have a few of these bottles on hand.

1. Vermouth

As an aperitif, vermouth can be categorized either as a red or a white wine with an ABV that falls in the 15 percent range. A classic red vermouth for your home bar is Carpano Classico with herbs, spices and dark flavors like cocoa, wine, and toffee.  Dolin Blanc is a classic white vermouth made with a variety of herbs and botanicals. Vermouth and other bitter liqueurs are best served chilled or over ice. Here are a few classic vermouth cocktails to try on your own.

2. Pimm’s No. 1

There’s nothing else like Pimm’s. The dark brown and reddish aperitif has a subtle citrus and spicy flavor with an ABV of 25 percent. It pairs best with garnishes like cucumbers, apples, oranges, lemons, strawberries and mint. For a little Pimm’s inspiration, here’s a selection of warm weather cocktails to whip up.

3. Lillet

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This French wine-based aperitif is a blend of Bordeaux grapes and a variety of citrus liqueurs, giving it a light fruity taste. One way to serve Lillet is on ice with a slice of orange. The aperitif with an ABV of 17 percent is just as good mixed into a fruity cocktail.

4. Campari

Every home bar needs a bottle of Campari. The ABV of this bitter Italian aperitif can range from 20 to 30 percent, depending on the country it’s sold in. Herbs and fruits are infused into alcohol and water to give Campari its signature dark red color. When you smell it, be prepared to get notes of orange rinds and bitter greens with lighter notes of cherry, orange and cinnamon.

The most popular cocktail for this pre-dinner liqueur is a Negroni, made with one part gin, one part vermouth and one part Campari. Whether it’s a frozen Negroni, bitter sangria or Campari on the rocks, every cocktail lover should play around with this ruby red concoction.

5. Aperol

If you’ve ever walked by a table of brunchers and spotted a bright orange cocktail in a champagne glass, you’ve seen Aperol. The Italian aperitif — a less bitter version of Campari — tastes like a combination of burnt orange, rhubarb and bitter herbs. One of Italy’s favorite cocktails, the Aperol spritz, is a mixture of Prosecco, Aperol and a splash of soda water. With a proof of 22 percent, add this aperitif to a glass with fresh citrus juice and simple syrup, or drink it on the rocks. Here’s how to use the bright orange liqueur.

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