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Cool Aperitifs for Eating ‘Al Fresco’

Posted in Caro Diario.(dear diary..), cucina, entertaining, Holidays, and recipes

eating-al-fresco.jpgnon-alcoholic-drinks.jpgThe last holiday of the summer season is here ,well not here ,but in the US. We don’t celebrate Labor Day in Italy of course. the biggest ending to the summer here is the 15th of August. But whichever Holiday you celebrate- both are reminders of the official end to the summer…the beach, the picnics on the terrazzo, the giardini, carefree lazy days are all coming to an end.

Today, September 1st , and the summer sun is still shining with temeperatures in the 90’s. If you are anywhere in the world where the summer sun is lingering, here are some of my favorite aperitifs-cool and refreshing. Perfect for any picnic or meal served ‘al fresco’.

When thinking of enjoying a picnic or meal outside in warm weather I’m reminded of refreshing beverages and frozen desserts like piña colada, Shirley Temple, Bellini, or iced cappuccino, where the quenching thought is enough to keep tongues wagging and taste buds tantalizingly thirsty. Shaken, blended, or stirred, many liquid courage concoctions evoke a tropical momentum with every sip. Alongside Crodino– a renowned non-alcoholic aperitif in Italy– or Gelato in the park, the mingling of frozen drinks and fruity punch is an important rule to collective merriment. Launching well-advertised ‘wet your whistle’ refreshment tables. As the summer season is ending and  the hottest days of the year are cooling off. Keep in mind, however, alcohol is not a drink of choice for everyone, which is why virgin cocktail recipes can be a celebration’s best friend. Ideal for children and even designated drivers… anyone can enjoy a treat from the non-alcoholic drink section. With luscious alternatives ranging from spumoni, Italian ice, sparkling sodas (Italian Cremosa, a classic combination of carbonated soda water, Bianchi flavored syrup, and cream) to sorbet smoothies, there’s little something for everyone to enjoy. 


No matter the social event, keeping your body well hydrated during the rising temperatures of the season is of the essence. But the flipside of overindulging in such refreshing thirst-quenchers can come with a price, as they are notorious for being calorie-laden diet-breakers. Without compromising or derailing efforts of both fitness and nutrition, watching sugar consumption is always wise. Some would even argue that the non-alcoholic beverage of choice is simply… water.


Venetian Sunrise (yields one serving)

3 oz pineapple juice (not from concentrate)

3 oz sparkling white grape juice

3 oz  Blood Orange Soda

1 tbsp grenadine

2 stemmed maraschino cherries


Fill 10 oz glass half-full with ice, pour over ingredients, and garnish with cherries.


Raspberry Wonderland (yields 12-15 serving)

1 2-liter bottle ginger ale

1 qt raspberry sorbet

4-6 oz fresh raspberries

1 lime, thinly sliced

12-15 fresh mint leaves (optional)


Mash raspberries, and in a large punch bowl combine ingredients. Let stand for 10 minutes, allowing sorbet to melt. Ladle into punch glasses, and garnish each serving with fresh mint leaves and sliced lime.


Blue-Vanilla Drifter (yields one serving)

1 scoop Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (can modify ingredients by using reduced fat ice cream versions)

6-8 oz sparkling blueberry juice

1 fresh mint leaf

In a 10 oz glass, add one scoop of vanilla ice cream and then slowly pour over blueberry juice. Garnish with fresh blueberry and mint leaf

Want a touch of cocktail finesse… try Maria Liberati’s Tintoretto at,

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Be sure to visit for great recipes, and get your copy of the best selling book, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, by Maria Liberati.

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