Blog: The Cocktail Spirit

Aperol, the Petrucio, and the Bardtail Cocktail

Posted on March 8, 2009 by Robert Hess

I’m not totally sure of the reason, but I seem to be attracted to bitters, but the cocktail “aromatic bitters” (such as Angostura), but also to the aperitif bitters that the Italians are so found of as well. Probably best know of the Italian bitters is “Campari”, which is sometimes referred to as the bitterest of bitters, but there are dozens of others with various degrees of bitterness and sweetness with the common sweet vermouth being perhaps at the tamest end of the spectrum.

Aperol is one of the Italian aperitif bitters that seem to only recently crept onto the scene here in the US. Flavor wise it has a profile which is similar to Campari or Cynar, but is definitely a little gentler, and an easier way to introduce the uninitiated to this class of beverage.

For the “Petrucio”, as recently featured in an episode of the Cocktail Spirit, I employed a slightly different methodology in cocktails which I’ve been playing around with recently, which is using a dash of Scotch to replace what might have otherwise been a dash of bitters. It induces a slightly different approach to the flavor, and even that depends on what type of Scotch you use. I often prefer to use a strongly peated Laphroaig, but you could also use a lighter Single Malt, or even a blended Scotch depending on the type of cocktail you are trying to make.

I came up with the Petrucio at “Mona’s” a nearby restaurant which I had been going to for quite some time, I saw that they had a bottle of Aperol on the shelf, and asked the bartender what drinks he was making with it. He said he didn’t have any yet, and suggested I try to come up with something. On the spot, I mulled over some options, and then decided to go very simple, and just combine Aperol, gin, and a dash of Scotch. Frankly I think it worked quite well.

The name is based on the main character in “Taming of the Shrew” by Shakespeare, since the story takes place in Padua, the same place where Aperol is made.

I recently was asked to come up with another cocktail, one which would specifically use Maker’s Mark Bourbon, and after a little thought and a few trials, once again turned to Aperol as my muse:


1 1/2 ounce Bourbon (Maker’s Mark)
1/2 ounce St-Germain
1/4 ounce Aperol

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.

The name I first christened it with was “Bardstown”, both to tip my hat to the “Bard”, but also because Bardstown Kentucky, is pretty much at the center of all things Bourbon, and fairly close to where Maker’s Mark is made. Unfortunately I later was to learn that Bardstown had already been used as a cocktail name by a friend of mine, and so I have re-named this drink “Bardstail” combining Bard, Bardstown, and Cocktail in one fell swoop.

Joe 12 Aug 2009
9:20 am

While on the topic of bitters, I will be travelling to Italy in a few weeks and was wondering if there are any bitters or any other liquors ( a certain absinthe maybe?) which are available in Italy but not in the US that I should bring back home? Any suggestions?

Anna Maria 4 Nov 2009
11:11 pm

Amazing to read about the blog really. i was searching for some cigar information inside Google for Partagas cigars but I came here to your blog from there and it was nice to read it through out. So thanks a lot.

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