5 top Italian summer drinks to enjoy in the sunshine

Long summer evenings and sunny days mean getting together with friends and family – here’s our pick of Italian summer drinks that everyone can enjoy…

Italian traditional cocktails Campari spritz, Hugo, Aperol spritz, Limoncino spritz
Photo © Natalia/Adobe Stock

Getting together in the summer – whether it’s an event you’ve been planning for ages, or an impromptu gathering on a warm evening – is an occasion to be savoured.

At such a moment, a generous choice of drinks is appreciated, from wines and spirits to flavoursome non-alcoholic alternatives.

Italy sets the bar high when it comes to aperitivo time, which is why they have some of the best alcohol-free options such as Crodino and Sanbittèr, brimming with aromats and full of flavour.

We’ve also found a more unusual teetotal take on the zesty lemons of Amalfi – it’s a lemon vinegar which, trust us, is absolutely delicious!

Continuing the citrus theme, we have a limoncello from Ischia which is Italian sunshine in a glass.

Fresh from the freezer, it’s a cooling aperitivo or after-dinner digestivo, and will add a tangy zip to cocktails.

If wine is your preference, we have chosen from the far north and deep south of Italy with a red from Sicily and a white from Valle d’Aosta.

Fresh and bright, serve the red lightly chilled and it will go down very well; as for the white, it is as sleek and restrained as you’d expect from its cool northern terroir.

Wishing you all happy celebrations with these Italian summer drinks – cin cin!

Our top Italian summer drinks:

1. Limoncello by Assuntina di Capri

From Saclà |  £40 for 500ml

Limoncello by Assuntina di Capri

Opaque and delicately yellow in hue, this limoncello is prepared by hand every spring from lemons grown in Ischian groves, with the zest macerated in a base of pure grain alcohol to extract all the bright, citrus-y flavours.

Sunshine in a glass, this limoncello has a fresh citrus sharpness which balances well with the sweetness.

Serve icy-sharp straight from the freezer as the party ends, or with tonic as a longer drink.

2. Biano Ensemblo Valle D’Aosta Dop La Source

From Corney & Barrow  | Price £14.30

Biano Ensemblo Valle D'Aosta Dop La Source

From the family-run La Source wine estate comes this delightfully fresh summer white wine.

Ensemblo means blend in the local dialect and this wine is a blend of Traminer, Moscato and Müller-Thurgau  grapes which come together to create this aromatic wine.

From the floral bouquet to the white peach flavours on the palate, this is an easy-drinking treat for summer.

Well-chilled, this summer white will take you through from aperitivo to dolce.

3. Crodino

From Sous Chef | Price £11.99 for 10 x 10cl


In its diminutive glass bottles, Crodino is an amber-coloured alcohol-free drink that has been part of the Italian aperitivo tradition for nearly 60 years.

Its spice, herb and botanical blend is a closely guarded secret, but there’s a real depth of punchy clove spice alongside more woody, bitter aromats.

Aging for six months before bottling creates a complex depth of flavour in Crodino, which should always be served chilled for drinking.

Great with a slice of fresh orange and plenty of ice, served in a generous wine glass.

4. Sana Tresa’s Frappato Rina Russa

From Waitrose | Price £11.99

Sana Tresa's Frappato Rina Russa

Stefano Girelli and sister Marina produce a range of wines at their Santa Tresa estate near Vittoria in southeast Sicily.

Rina Russa means ‘red sand’ in Sicilian dialect and this organic red from the Frappato grape is medium-bodied, light and bright, just perfect for summer drinking.

The abundance of juicy red berries is tempered by a hint of spice and sour cherry.

You need to serve this wine slightly chilled. Goes well with seared fresh tuna.

5. Sanbitter Rosso

From Sous Chef | Price £12.50 for 10 x 10cl

Sanbitter Rosso

From the San Pellegrino brand comes the cranberry- hued Sanbittèr Rosso, one of Italy’s favourite aperitivi. It comes in a cool single-serve recyclable glass bottle.

With robust bitter orange and grapefruit flavours to the fore and spicy notes going on in the background, this is the alcohol-free answer to Campari and soda.

Always served chilled, its ‘grown- up’ bitter flavour better suits drinkers who don’t have a sweet tooth!

Great with plenty of ice and a citrus slice, or with a spritz of soda to lighten the flavour.

Prices correct July 2024.

For more refreshing Italian drinks, visit our wine archives