Le Sirenuse's Franco’s Bar, home of the Franco's Fizz.
Brechenmacher & Baumann
We’ve got cocktail recipes from each of them.
Italy’s post-WWII renaissance revolved around la dolce vita: business, art, cinema, and culture flourished in the 1950s and 1960s. Of course, a proper cocktail was part of that sweet life, and the best ones were often found in the country’s five-star hotels, which catered to an international clientele used to drinking in swanky bars in NYC, Paris, London, and beyond.
I learned a lot about how these hotel bars served as the social center for the literati, royalty, and celebrities while researching my new book, Italy Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired by Italia. Today, it’s easy to find great cocktail bars in every major town in Italy – and I’ve scoured the country in search of the best of them – but for decades, sipping a spritz above Rome’s Spanish Steps or nursing a negroni while overlooking the cliffs of Positano was reserved for international hotel guests. (Italians weren’t and still aren’t big cocktail drinkers, instead sipping on low alcohol aperitivos before dinner, pairing meals with wine, and enjoying liqueurs such as amaro or grappa after dinner to aid in digestion.)
My book dedicates an entire chapter to hotel bars and their opulent spaces, where Italian cocktail masters create crisp classics, innovative concoctions, and everything in between. Here, a few of the finest spots for your next Italian getaway.
Le Sirenuse – Positano
A-listers love Le Sirenuse – a 58-room clifftop jewel overlooking the Amalfi Coast – but status doesn’t let them skip the queue at Franco’s Bar, a stunning blue-and-white open-air spot overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. (Named for one of the original four siblings to open Le Sirenuse in 1951, Franco’s is adjacent to the hotel and open to the public.) The cocktail menu skews tropical, including the Franco’s Fizz, a smooth, slightly creamy liqueur-based concoction.
Le Sirenuse’s Franco’s Fizz
Ground pistachios mixed with salt, for the rim
2 oz. almond milk
1 2/3 oz. Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto liqueur
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/6 oz. simple syrup
1 2/3 oz. lemon-flavored soda water
Wet the rim of a collins glass and dip it into the pistachio/salt mix.
Fill the glass with one or two ice cubes.
Combine almond milk, Italicus, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
Strain into the collins glass and top with soda water.
Garnish with lemon zest.
The moody interior of Hassler Bar.
Hotel Hassler – Rome
One of the most iconic hotels in Rome, the 87-room Hotel Hassler and its dark and broody Hassler Bar, have hosted some of the city’s most famous visitors, from Pablo Picasso to Princess Diana, since it opened in 1947. And while the original Bellini was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice, rumor has it that Princess Diana once confessed to Hassler’s late general manager Roberto E. Wirth that their version was her favorite. (Pro tip: It’s all in the peach puree, which takes three days to make but is well worth the effort.)
Hassler Bar’s Peach Bellini
2/3 oz. peach puree
3 1/3 oz. prosecco
Pour the peach puree and prosecco into a mixing glass filled with ice and quickly stir.
Strain the cocktail directly into a Champagne flute.
Garnish with a slice of peach.
To make peach puree, place four white peaches (washed, pitted, peeled, and sliced) into a large stainless-steel bowl with 13.5 ounces of pinot grigio and two raspberries. After three days, remove the peaches, put them in an earthenware bowl, and refrigerate for a few hours. Pour peaches, the juice of a lemon, 60 grams of sugar, and the pinot grigio into a blender and puree.
The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze's Legacy Drink.
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze – Florence
The moment guests enter the 116-room Four Seasons Hotel Firenze – housed in a restored fifteenth-century Medici palace on a quiet street on the city’s north end – they’re bathed in atrium light and greeted by a laughing marble statue of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. From that entryway, the Atrium Bar and master bartender Edoardo Sandri await, welcoming patrons with an array of unexpected-in-Florence experimental cocktails made with ingredients such as liquid nitrogen and tea-based infusions. The sweet and smooth Legacy cocktail is one of the (relatively) easiest to make, and its bright blue hue will leave friends impressed as you say, “Oh, this thing? I picked it up in Firenze.”
The Atrium Bar’s Legacy Cocktail
1 1/3 oz. Patrón Silver tequila
1 oz. butterfly pea flower tea
1/2 oz. Amber Martini vermouth
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/3 oz. oleo clementine saccharum (This is made by combining 1 cup of clementine peels with 3/4 cup of sugar. Mash ingredients together with a muddler and let sit for up to 24 hours. Strain mixture through a sieve and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to make the cocktail.)
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice.
Shake well and strain into a tumbler.
Il Borro's Medieval sprawl.
Il Borro Estate – Tuscany
Tuscany is known for its golden colors, rolling hills, and romantic getaways – all three are staples of the Ferragamo family’s Il Borro Estate, a restored thirteenth-century medieval village that’s now home to 58 rooms and villas, a golf course, tennis courts, multiple pools, a winery, and an organic farm. Dining options range from small cafés to gourmet restaurants, but for the best cocktails, head to the Tuscan Bistro, a refined-yet-rustic space known for its traditional Tuscan dishes, laid-back atmosphere, and craft cocktails. The Il Borro Sour is delicate with a touch of spice, thanks to a black pepper garnish.
Tuscan Bistro’s Il Borro Sour
1 1/3 oz. Vodka VKA
2/3 oz. elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz. rosemary-infused honey
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/3 oz. egg white
3 drops cocktail saline solution (Mix 1/4 cup of salt and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat until fully dissolved. Allow mixture to cool, then pour into a dropper bottle.)
Pour the vodka, elderflower liqueur, honey syrup, lemon juice, and egg white into a dry shaker and dry-shake for ten seconds.
Add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously.
Pour the contents of the shaker into a white wine glass (without straining).
Garnish with grated black pepper and a rosemary sprig.
Conrad Chia Laguna's outdoor-facing Bollicine Bar.
Conrad Chia Laguna – Sardinia
Sardinia is officially having a moment as everybody’s new favorite Italian island getaway. On the island’s southern end, the 107-room Conrad Chia Laguna fronts Chia Bay with its own private beach. For drinkers, the hotel’s Bollicine Bar leans into mirto, a bittersweet and slightly herbal liqueur made from a Sardinian berry found on local myrtle plants.
Bollicine Bar’s Mirto Spritz
2/3 oz. mirto
2 oz. prosecco
Soda water, to top
Fill a white wine glass to chill, and then toss ice.
Add the mirto, then the prosecco, and top with soda water. Gently stir.
Garnish with a dehydrated orange slice.