Spirit of a city: five cocktails to whisk you to Rome

This article is part of a guide to Rome from FT Globetrotter

GARR-ib-AWL-dee, by Patrick Pistolesi and Massimo Palmieri of Drink Kong

Piazza di San Martino Ai Monti 8, 00154 RoME

A twist on an Italian classic: the GARR-ib-AWL-dee

Drink Kong's Patrick Pistolesi

Drink Kong’s Patrick Pistolesi

Our Rome-inspired cocktail from Drink Kong is a twist on a classic Italian aperitivo called the Garibaldi (though we spelled the title of ours phonetically as a cheeky nod to how we pronounce it for our foreign customers).

Giuseppe Garibaldi, who the original cocktail is named after, was the Italian general who contributed to the unification of Italy. We were inspired by his famous slogan, “Roma o Morte!” (Rome or death), which he used to rally troops for the campaign to consecrate the city as the Italian capital.

To create our take on this classic cocktail, we use an electronic rotary evaporator to distil the Campari, which results in a nice clear bitter and forms the backbone of the drink. What’s left from the distillation process — a concentrate of bitters and sugar — is used to make an orange cordial, along with freshly pressed orange juice. The result is a fresh, modern version of the classic Garibaldi, garnished with ice.

Pour ingredients into a glass over one large chunk of ice and stir.

Roma Antiqua, by Paolo Dianini of Stravinskij Bar


Paolo Dianini of Stravinskij Bar looked to Ancient Rome for his creation for the FT.

Paolo Dianini of Stravinskij Bar looked to Ancient Rome for his creation for the FT.

Grape expectations: the Roma Antiqua

Grape expectations: the Roma Antiqua

As the name suggests, this simple yet refined cocktail created for the Stravinskij Bar is inspired by Ancient Rome. Indeed, its few ingredients and authentic presentation take us back in time, imagining Roman emperors reclining and dining.

Grapes were always present during their banquets and events, so it comes as no surprise that this drink is made mostly of pressed white grapes and grape brandy — we even add a small bunch of grapes as the final adornment. The addition of honey pays homage to mulsum, a pre-dinner timple served at parties in the Imperial Roman era, made by mixing honey into white wine. In order to make the setting as faithful as possible, Roma Antiqua is served using an amphora (cups made of copper) and metal glasses.

Press the grapes and pour the juice into a shaker. Add ice cubes and the other ingredients. Shake the mix vigorously and strain the cocktail into a small amphora. Serve it in a copper or metal cup and garnish with black pepper and a small bunch of grapes.

Roman Martini, by Matteo Zed of The Court

Palazzo Manfredi, Via Labicana 125, 00184 RomE

The Roman Martini is infused with herbs and topped with a giant caper.

The Roman Martini is infused with herbs and topped with a giant caper.

Matteo Zed took inspiration from the ancient monuments and sites near The Court.

Matteo Zed took inspiration from the ancient monuments and sites near The Court.

Created by The Court, the Roman Martini represents Rome and everything that surrounds our beautiful bar, such as the terrific view of the Colosseum and the Ludus Magnus, the ancient gladiator gym.

The Roman Martini’s base spirit is a local gin, Ginarte, that is very balsamic and aromatic. After further infusion of this spirit with laurel, Roman absinthe and chamomile (all herbs that have long been used in the Lazio region), redistillation is carried out in an electronic rotary evaporator.

Once our gin is ready, we add Mancino Vermouth Secco and a few drops of a homemade puntarella bitter, a kind of chicory that is grown in the region around Rome. The Roman Martini is not topped with an olive but a giant caper, which grows spontaneously up the walls of the Colosseum.

Combine all ingredients into a mixing class with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass and garnish with a caper flower.

Old But Gold, by Raimonda Basso Bondini of The Jerry Thomas Project

Vicolo Cellini 30, 00186 RomeE

The Jerry Thomas Project's Raimonda Basso Bondini

The Jerry Thomas Project’s Raimonda Basso Bondini

Old But Gold celebrates both Rome's history and its culinary culture.

Old But Gold celebrates both Rome’s history and its culinary culture.

If I were to describe Rome in three words, I would choose an English expression that represents what the whole world knows about this city: its almost 3,000 years of history and its modern-day appeal. It’s “old but gold”.

To translate this into a drink from The Jerry Thomas Project, I took inspiration from a classic vermouth and soda, which, like Rome, is not only timeless can be enjoyed all day long, just like the beauty of Rome — or the company of the Romans. Every now and then, Romans appreciate a certain quiet, so to include calming properties in this drink I chose to highlight chamomile as the main flavor to exalt the vermouth classico.

But Rome, like all of Italy, is also a culinary culture, and to celebrate this aspect I chose another great classic: artichokes. alla roman. The fresh yet bitter flavor typical of this recipe is conveyed in the drink through a mixture of Italian liqueurs with mint and artichoke.

Add all of the ingredients — with ice — to a highball glass. Stir and garnish with mint. (To make chamomile soda at home, infuse 2g of chamomile in 250ml of hot water, dissolve 25g of caster sugar and a tbsp of lemon juice. Let it cool and add CO2 using a SodaStream.)

Tahona Margarita, by Simone De Luca of Cugino at The Hoxton Rome

The Hoxton Rome, Largo Benedetto Marcello 220, 00198 Rome

Agave spirits are a hit with young Romans

Agave spirits are a hit with young Romans

Cugino's head bartender Simone De Luca

Cugino’s head bartender Simone De Luca

Our drink from Cugino, the new bar and restaurant at The Hoxton Rome, is called the Tahona Margarita. A tahona is a volcanic-stone wheel used to crush roasted agave hearts, separating sweet juice from the pulp to create tequila. Agave spirits are seeing a surge in popularity among young people in the Italian capital, and so we’ve chosen to highlight these ingredients in our Rome-inspired drink. This is one of our favorite ways to enjoy them.

Shake all ingredients together and pour over ice in a rocks glass before garnishing with a charred baby sweetcorn


At the time of publication, bars and restaurants in Rome are open both indoors and outdoors. The usual caveats apply: please check websites and opening times carefully, phone ahead and do additional research

What is your favorite drink that captures the spirit of Rome? Tell us in the comments

For more stories like this, visit ft.com/globetrottercheck out our guide to Romeand follow FT Globetrotter on Instagram at @FTGlobetrotter

Leave a Comment