Must-Try: Aperitivo Cocktail at Osteria Morini

By Rina Rapuano  |  January 6, 2014
Credit: Anthony Jackson

While grabbing a quick bite at Osteria Morini’s bar recently, the celery-infused gin in the aperitivo cocktail caught our eye. The drink - named for the concept of stimulating your appetite with a pre-dinner cocktail - mixes the infused Beefeater gin with the wine-based Cardamaro Amaro and an Italian orange soda known as aranciata to beautiful effect.

Balance is the key to its success, with elements of fresh, green flavors playing well with the herbal tones and the sweetness or the orange. It’s a good thing it’s relatively low in alcohol because it goes down entirely too easily.

Eben Freeman, bar director with Altamarea Group (the company that backs Osteria Morini with chef Michael White), admits that gin, celery and amaro don’t have the allure of, say, a more accessible vodka drink - but that American tastes are changing. Bitter flavors have grown leaps and bounds in terms of acceptability, as has the idea of using savory ingredients in cocktails.

Freeman created the drink for the opening of the Osteria Morini in Soho, and while it’s not something that flies off the shelves, he wants to let the bar scene here settle in before making any big changes.

“I want to keep it at least until the summer,” says Freeman. “We’re really going to see how the bar program develops when we open up outside. I’m thinking it’s going to become a much bigger drinking destination than it is right now.”

Freeman assures us that if it ever does come off the menu, all the ingredients will likely be on hand for those who get a craving. In the meantime, order up. It's a great precursor to Osteria Morini's rich dishes (202-484-0660).