Aperol bottle with orange and herbs in background

Aperol

By Timo Torner / Last updated on November 10, 2022 

First published on November 8, 2021 

Aperol is a bright red-orange colored and fairly bitter Italian herbal liqueur. It is known for its use in Spritz cocktails but is also extremely versatile beyond the use of this classic.

When looking for an Italian aperitif that's less bitter than the usual Italian Amaros, Aperol is a favored choice. 

With its low ABV and just a little less bitterness, it is a perfect aperitif. It also plays a vital role in the history of Spritz cocktails as it's the main ingredient of the most popular Spritz variation.

Yet, except for its use in an Aperol Spritz, few people know much about the Italian liqueur. Time to change that and read more about the herbal orange-flavored liqueur that conquered the world by storm.

What is it? | What is an Aperitif? |. Taste. |. Alcohol content. |. History. |. Ingredients | Cocktails | FAQs

What is Aperol?

Aperol is a bittersweet Italian liqueur with moderate bitter notes. It's an aperitif of vibrant orange color named after the Italian word for Aperitif - Apero.

It's often confused with Campari, another famous Italian liqueur of similar color. However, compared to Campari, Aperol is lighter, brighter, and -you guessed it- less bitter. A fact that makes it a perfect ingredient for low-ABV cocktails.

As for most herbal liqueurs, the recipe is a well-kept secret. Only a few ingredients are known. Amongst them are gentian roots, cinchona, and rhubarb. 

But what we do know for sure is that it didn't change since the brothers Barbierei created it in 1919.

What is an aperitif?

An aperitif cocktail, or aperitivo in Italian, is a drink consumed mainly in Europe to prepare your stomach for a meal. Aperitifs are typically light and refreshing drinks that taste great and stimulate your appetite.

Common base ingredients for aperitivos are fortified wines, liqueurs, and Amari like Aperol. Some well-known examples of tasty aperitif cocktails are the Aperol Spritz, Negroni Sbagliato, and the Americano cocktail.

How does Aperol taste

Described in one sentence, the taste of Aperol is bittersweet and orange-flavored with herbal notes. It has a citric herbal aroma with orange peels and vanilla notes.

Aperol Cocktail

The flavors are comparable to the taste of other Italian Amaros. But, as mentioned before, it's a lot lighter and definitely less bitter. In return, the zesty orange notes, herbal flavors, and hints of vanilla are more pronounced than in other Amari.

Alcohol content

The bittersweet liqueur is relatively low in ABV. Generally, Aperol only contains 11% of alcohol by volume. However, in Germany, the ABV is higher, at 15%.

You might wonder why. Perhaps the Germans are particularly passionate about liqueurs with a higher ABV? It is not that, though. The real reason is less fun and a lot more political and economical.

In Germany, there's the so-called Mehrwegpfand law. That is a container law, prescribing to add between 0.08€ and 0.25€ per bottle sold if the alcohol content is below 15%. So it applies to all no or low-alcoholic beverages like sodas, water, beer, wine, etc., sold in plastic or glass bottles.

Liqueurs and spirits are usually unaffected, as most contain more than 15% ABV. So to avoid confusing customers, the liqueur brand decided to increase the amount of alcohol in their product for the German market.

History of Aperol

The first time Aperol was produced was in 1919. In Padua, in the northern part of Italy, close to Venice, the brother Silvio and Luigi Barbieri created the recipe for the bittersweet orange liqueur. But the development process took some time.

In 1912 the two brothers took over the Barbieri company from their father and started working on a new recipe. 

In the end, it took them seven whole years to create the final recipe. Finally, in 1919 Silvio and Luigi presented their work at a trade show in Padua.

But although the recipe was created with care -and didn't change until today- it was far from an instant win. On the contrary, it took quite some time until it became really successful. 

Vintage bottle Aperol

According to the company itself, it wasn't until the end of World War II in the 1940s. At this time, the Aperol Spritz cocktail was born and drove sales for the liqueur. 

This drink soon became a vital part of la dolce vita, the sweet life in Italy. Especially in the northeastern part of the country, Aperol Spritz was a popular drink for get-togethers with friends and family.

In 2003, the company was sold to Gruppo Campari. And from then on, the popularity of Aperol skyrocketed. First inside Italy, then in other parts of Europe. 

A few years ago, Campari also started marketing in North America, especially in the US, and created a huge hype. The Aperol Spritz was everywhere.

Ingredients

The list of ingredients and the recipe are a well-kept secret. Yet, thanks to Campari America brand ambassador Anne Louise Marquis, we have at least some information: We know that Aperol includes oils from both sweet and bitter oranges, cinchona bark, rhubarb, and a variety of roots and herbs. 

How to serve and drink Aperol

The most popular cocktail you can make is, of course, the Aperol Spritz. The famous drink consists of Prosecco, Aperol, and soda water. -Using the perfect ratios and proper ingredients makes this bright and crisp cocktail a brilliant summer drink.

Aperol Spritz

Another delicious cocktail to make is an Aperol Sour. It's based on Aperol -obviously- and is spiked with Gin. 

It is a classic sour cocktail inspired by other classics like the Gin Sour or Whiskey Sour. The result is a very low-ABV version of a sour cocktail, a citrusy and refreshing drink of vibrant orange color.

Aperol FAQs

What kind of alcohol is Aperol?

Aperol is a bittersweet apéritif liqueur that belongs to the Amaro family. It has a relatively low alcohol content with only 11% ABV and is famous for its use in an Aperol Spritz.

What does Aperol liquor taste like?

Aperol is bittersweet like other Amaros. However, its level of bitterness is on the lower end of the bitter scale. The taste of Aperol is orange forward with herbal flavors and hints of rhubarb.

Should you store aperol in the fridge?

Like other Amari, Aperol should be stored in the fridge once open. Here, Aperol remains good to use for up to 3 months.

How much is Aperol?

On average, a bottle of Aperol (750 ml) will cost you $24. In Europe, it often sells for 10 to 15€.

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4 comments on “Aperol”

    1. Hey Bobby,
      The common ratios are 3:2:1 - So 3 parts Prosecco (Spumante), 2 parts Aperol, and 1 part soda. You can also find it in our Aperol Spritz post, but I will update this article and will add that, too.
      Thanks for your comment.
      Cheers

    1. Yes, like with other Amaro liqueurs Aperol should be stored in the fridge once opened.
      I also updated the article to answer this and a few other common questions.
      Cheers

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