June 2011

The Ascension of an Aperitivo

By: Meridith May
Toscana and Bar Toscana General Manager Francesco Greco and THE TASTING PANEL’s Editor-in-Chief, Anthony Dias Blue, enjoy The Palazzo. Poured over an ice rock and served in a rocks glass, it combines Aperol with pisco, grapefruit juice, grapefruit bitters and Luxardo Maraschino liqueur.

The narrow, well-lit Bar Toscana could have turned out to be just an adjunct to its popular next-door eatery, Toscana. It could have served as a waiting area for the throngs of high-profile Westside VIPs who frequent or live in the tony Brentwood community of Los Angeles. Only so many politicians, celebrities, sports personalities and entertainment execs can fit into the corner Italian restaurant that has spanned almost two decades of more-than-decent business.

But Bar Toscana turned into something more: a fashion-forward Milan-inspired watering hole where William Perbellini, the young man armed with a black belt in mixology, has made a name for himself in Los Angeles.

Mentored by one of the country’s great bar chefs and spirits educators, Francesco Lafranconi, Perbellini was recruited two years ago by Toscana owners Amy and Andy Gordon, and restaurant General Manager Francesco Greco, while bar-hopping in Milan.

“Francesco has been our mentor,” claims Greco. Perbellini agrees. “With his help, we were able to translate his new breed of cocktails into our Tuscan theme.” Backed by a menu of postmodern simplicity created by Chef Luca Crestanelli, Bar Toscana’s drinks are every bit as edible as its creative appetizers.

If there is a spirit that helps set the tone of Perbellini’s handiwork, it’s Aperol. This sunset-colored Italian aperitif not only adds personality to fruit, vegetables and bitters, it is a must-use behind this modern urban bar.

Bar Manager/Mixologist William Perbellini focuses on the Speziate and the Aperol Spritz while Bar Toscana Manager Sauro Mosti looks on.
Perbellini muddles red bell peppers and basil for the double-strained Speziato—a savory, mildly spicy Aperol drink that’s far better than any veggie juice we’ve ever had!


A Rising Star at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas resort has many notable elements to its beverage program; but one of the most interesting is its strong support of Aperol. Using the spirit in no less than five different beverages across property, the Cosmopolitan can boast of being the number-one outlet of Aperol in the U.S.

The Cosmopolitan’s Scott Barthlemes.
Director of Beverage Scott Barthlemes explains: “Aperol is a classic  brand that our mixologists love to work with. Being the Cosmopolitan, we look at trends happening all over the world. The Aperol Spritz, our signature casino cocktail [made with Cinzano prosecco and orange peel] is Italy’s number-one cocktail, so we thought it was a great way to introduce gamers to the cocktail program here. In the five months since our opening, we’ve sold 1,500 to 2,000 drinks.”

Barthlemes notes Aperol’s low alcohol and sweet, bitter, herbaceous flavor profile combine to make it an ideal mixer with seemingly unlimited applications. The spirit gets most attention at Vesper, Cosmopolitan’s classic mixology lounge, where the creamy Ramos Fizz–inspired Aperol Necklace (with Gin, egg white, blood orange) is a top seller on the menu.
Elsewhere on property, Aperol is featured in the Chandelier’s Flaming Dutchman (Orange Vodka, fresh mint and tonic), Bond’s sparkly sweet-tart Rising Sun (Tequila, Cinzano Brachetto and blood-orange juice with a purple orchid garnish) and at the spa-adjacent Bamboo pool, the floral and refreshing Levinson (Orange Vodka. and grapefruit).

Says Barthlemes, “We enjoy being partners with folks like Aperol,
so want to do the right thing and build their brand.” —E .C. Gladstone

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