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Ten years ago, ordering an Aperol or Campari spritz outside of Venice would have prompted a bemused ‘Che cosa?’ from most Italian barmen. Not any more: for visitors and Italians alike, it’s fast becoming the default Italian aperitif – partly thanks to smart marketing. It’s got to the point where we all perhaps need reminding that there are other pre-dinner cocktails. And who better to jog our memory than Robert Wimmer, Le Sirenuse’s experienced head barman?
A few years back, Robert set himself the challenge of creating the perfect accompaniment to a summer’s evening on a terrace overlooking the sea, something light and refreshing, yet alive with the fragrances and sensations of the Amalfi Coast. The result is his Le Sirenuse champagne cocktail.
Le Sirenuse champagne cocktail
50g gin – preferably No.3 London Dry Gin
20g Maraschino liqueur (Luxardo is a reputable brand)
10g fresh, filtered lemon juice, preferably from Amalfi lemons
a drop of liquid sugar or sugar syrup, to taste
Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with whole ice cubes and shake vigorously, then pour into a white wine glass (not a flute) and top up with your favourite champagne. Garnish with a single maraschino cherry.
There’s a secret ingredient however – with Robert, there’s almost always a secret ingredient. Take a strip of lemon the length of your little finger and crush it with a pestle or a spoon, sunny side down, then pick it up and, pinching it between your fingers, squeeze the essential oils over the finished cocktail.