The Aperol Spritz is a relatively modern invention; a clever marketing ploy designed to convey Italian sprezzatura, in fact, that turned out to be highly addictive. Spirits buffs however will tell you that the aperitivo of choice for Italian royalty and aristocracy was historically Rosolio, a liqueur sometimes flavored with rose petals; as Saveur notes, it fell out of favor in the late 1700s after King Vittorio Amadeo III of Sardinia declared his preference for vermouth.
More recently, world-class bartender and Italian spirits authority Giuseppe Gallo decided to revive and reinvent it in the form of Italicus Rosolio Di Bergamotto, made with bergamot, a citrus fruit that's a sort of hybrid between lemon and bitter orange, grown and harvested in Italy.
The bergamot, which comes from a UNESCO-protected area in Calabria, is balanced with a "light bitter and floral spice" in Italicus, which is made at a 115-year-old, family-owned distillery in Moncalieri, Torino. Other key ingredients include cedro from Sicily, Roman chamomile from Lazio, and melissa balm, lavender, yellow roses, and gentian from Northern Italy, and it is bottled at 20% ABV.
Gallo, who is from the Amalfi coast, used a combination of a recipe found in a book dating back to the 1800s, and his own family recipes that "go back many generations," in creating the drink. "Since childhood I’ve dreamed of creating a quintessential expression of what makes this the most remarkable and unforgettable country in the world.... bottling the essence of La Bella Italia Rosolio, meaning ‘the dew of the sun’ and creating a sip of Italy.”
The bottle has an Italian Art Deco feel, with the color of the beveled glass designed to represent the "aquamarine shorelines" of Capri and the Amalfi Coast, while the stopper features Bacchus posing in the manner of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, while harvesting local bergamot.
Italicus is best enjoyed in a classic spritz with Prosecco or Champagne, or in a more modern interpretation made with grapefruit soda or tonic water. And Gallo's preferred accompaniment is Sicilian olives, in order to "balance the floral aromas with a touch of saltiness."
And this is shaping up to be the perfect summer to enjoy it whenever the mood strikes you.