An Italian Cocktail with Balsamic, Lambrusco and lemon

This Cocktail is Italy in a Glass

Director of Beverage Studies Eamon Rockey incorporates authentic Italian ingredients into a spirited beverage.

Institute of Culinary Education instructors are innovating with Italy's Balsamic Vinegar of Modena in sweet and savory dishes and drinks. Here, Director of Beverage Studies Eamon Rockey combines the complex ingredient with Lambrusco and an Amarena cherry for a truly Italian libation.

This is a unique take on the classic highball or Collins, which traditionally combines a spirit, soda (or bubbly ingredient), and citrus juice or garnish with fresh citrus. We’re sprucing a classic up a bit with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, which is so complex, it serves the role as the base ingredient and with a delicious quality. It also brings acidity and a certain richness and depth of flavor. Plus, it’s aged in barrels just like spirits.

Balsamic works well in mixology because it has a mellow richness. Instead of scotch or gin, I’m using amaretto. In addition to the almond flavor, it’s based on the pits of stone fruit so there’s a marriage of flavor and concept with the cherries that garnish this cocktail. Instead of soda, I used Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine, that has a lot of cherry flavor, too.

Amarena cherries are a classic preserved cherry from Italy's Emilia-Romagna region where you’re likely to see them baked into cakes and pastries, served with fruit and cheese for charcuterie, and used in drinks. The deep, thick balsamic comes together with the cherries, the nutty amaretto and the vivacious and dark-colored Lambrusco. It’s a very intuitive cocktail.

This cocktail is Italy in a glass. Every ingredient is classic and native to Italy. It should be paired with Italian prosciutto, cheese and antipasti.

An Italian Cocktail with Balsamic and Lambrusco


Lo Spirito Viola


  • 1 ounce Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
  • 3/4 ounce amaretto
  • 2 ounces Lambrusco, chilled
  • 2 ounces sparkling water, chilled
  • 1 Amarena cherry
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 lemon peel


  1. Combine balsamic, amaretto and sparkling water in a mixing glass and stir.
  2. Pour mixture into a highball glass, add Lambrusco and fill with ice.
  3. Express the oils of the lemon peel over the drink.
  4. Garnish the cocktail with the lemon peel, cherry and rosemary.

Get creative with your own cocktails in our recreational mixology classes and see more recipes with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.

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