Quick summary: Campari, Lillet, Pamplemousse, or sour cherry spritz can be excellent substitutes if you don’t have Aperol. Some other aperitifs from our list will also boost up your cocktails.
In the cocktail culture of delightful drinks, there is something for every occasion and every taste. Aperitifs and spritzers have become classy and versatile classics for leisurely afternoons and pre-dinner enjoyment.
Aperol is one of the most well-known Italian bitters, but not everyone is a fan of this vibrant orange drink.
Whether you can’t find any in-store or just want to change up your home bar-tending menu for the weekend — we’ve got some fabulous Aperol substitute ideas.
We’ll help you choose the best Aperol substitute to match your taste buds and drink style, so you know just what you’re in for.
Before we get started, let’s look at exactly what Aperol is.
The Basics of Aperitifs
Aperitifs and digestifs are alcoholic drinks typically enjoyed before (apéritif) or after (digestif) a lunch or dinner. Aperitifs are usually on the dry (rather than the sweet) side.
Aperol is a low-alcohol (11%) bitter liqueur from northern Italy. The Italian aperitif has an orange flavor and includes rhubarb, bitter orange, cinchona, gentian, and a selection of herbs.
Besides being served straight over ice, it is also a popular addition to spritzers and cocktails. A spritz generally includes three parts fizzy wine (such as prosecco) and two parts bitter liqueur. A sweet liqueur or low-ABV spirit can also be used with an added dash of soda water.
Aperol Spritz Recipe
If you want a classic Aperol spritz recipe, we’ve got one for you. And as a bonus, you can swap out any of the below substitutes instead of the Aperol in the original recipe.
An Aperol spritz can be served in a white wine or highball glass.
Start by placing ice in your glass and add 75ml (2.5oz) prosecco and 50ml (1.7oz) of the orange bitters. Add a dash of club soda (or unflavored sparkling water) and garnish with an orange slice or orange wedge.
When substituting the orange sunkist aromas of the Italian aperitivo for another liqueur, switch up your garnish with something that will be a better match for the flavor profile of your drink.
Options include fresh mint, a lemon or lime wedge, or berry garnish. For an authentic Venetian garnish, swap out the citrus slice for a green olive.
Best Substitutes for Aperol
Campari is a similar Italian aperitif with a strong bittersweet flavor. The bitter liqueur is more complex and ideal if you’re looking for a slightly stronger drink.
Campari spritz is a popular alternative to Aperol spritz with a close match of orange flavor. It also features undertones of clove, cinnamon, cherry, and anise.
Lillet is a French fortified wine. The flavor profile will depend on the type you choose.
Lillet Blanc has grape and white flower notes while Lillet Rose is fruitier with stone fruit, orange, and honey notes. Lillet Rouge, on the other hand, provides notes of strawberry preserve.
These fortified wines don’t provide the same bitterness but you can make a deliciously refreshing spritz with a blend of Lillet Blanc, sparkling wine, and club soda. The flavor will be similar to semi-sweet vermouth and is perfect for those who aren’t keen on bitters.
Also known as a grapefruit spritz, this bubbly beverage has a fruity character but also a bitter note.
You can either use a grapefruit aperitif for a boozy kick or grapefruit juice together with sparkling wine or prosecco. It is generally served with a few slices of grapefruit and a sprig of rosemary.
Sour Cherry Spritz
This versatile spritz is made with maraschino cherry liqueur. Despite sounding like a sweet drink, the cherry stones are not removed during the maraschino liqueur production process which means it has a slightly bitter almond taste.
To make the spritz, combine the clear, dry spirit with your sparkling wine and a dash of soda water. If you’re missing the orange flavors add a splash of triple sec. Garnish your drink with iconic cocktail cherries.
You can also sweeten the liqueur for use in cocktails by adding simple syrup or add a more complex flavor to your gin by combining it with the maraschino cherry liqueur.
Here is a spritz for bourbon lovers. You can use bourbon or another whiskey combined with Campari and sweet vermouth. This is a slightly stronger spritz with a similar flavor to negroni.
Contratto Aperitivo is a red bitter Italian beverage with a balance between the sweetness of Aperol and the bitterness of Campari.
It has a complex flavor with 29 botanicals, herbs, and spices. Although you can drink it on its own, it is ideal for a spritz. You can use the same recipe as our Aperol spritz and swap the Contratto in exact measures.
Another member of the bitter crimson Italian Aperitif family, Cappelletti aperitivo is an ideal choice if you want something with a bit more kick.
It has a piney undertone and makes for a great spritz to enjoy in the afternoon or even with brunch. You can also enjoy it with ice as an aperitif before dinner.
Since it has a lower alcohol content, Aperol will last best if stored in the refrigerator once opened. The open bottle can last up to three months in the fridge.
Yes. Aperol can be incorporated into boozy orange desserts and cakes. There are a number of recipes you can find online to use that last bit of bitter liqueur before it expires.
Since it contains alcohol it won’t freeze solid. It can however be frozen enough to give you a frozen cocktail texture. We don’t recommend freezing it in the glass bottle. Decant it into an airtight freezer-friendly container or zip-top bag.
Campari has a higher level of alcohol and therefore lasts up to 12 months. The longer you keep it once opened, the more it oxidizes and loses quality.
You can make an alcohol-free version by using a blend of orange tonic and grapefruit juice combined with non-alcoholic sparkling wine.
Whether you’re making a spritz or having straight-up Aperol, this light, slightly sweet, slightly bitter liqueur is refreshing and citrusy. If you’re out of stock, there are a host of alternative options you can choose from.
The one that’s best will depend on whether you want something with a bitter kick or fruity undertone. Some of our favorite alternatives that match Aperol’s citrus notes include Campari, grapefruit liqueur, grapefruit juice, or Boulevardier spritz.
If you’re cooking Italian, a classy spritz or aperitif should definitely be on the drinking menu.
If you’re a cocktail person, you might also like our suggestions for Amaro Nonino alternatives.
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