The art of the cocktail in Southern Europe

An enthusiasm for mixology has given rise to numerous classic cocktails made from local ingredients.

Although its official birthdate is in 1806, back when the first definition of cocktail was published in a New York magazine, the concept did not take off until more than a century later. It was the Prohibition era, and speakeasies saw cocktails as a way to spare their customers the taste of contraband alcohol and to hide its smell from the police. This shady history is far removed from the chic and festive image that predominates today! The trend is indeed towards mixology, allowing chefs and bartenders to show off their creativity and dexterity through daring and personalised creations. The cocktail is an art form in its own right, and it flourishes in France, Italy and Spain.

French cocktails

In France, it was at the beginning of the 20th century that the cocktail became popular in dance halls, cabarets and jazz clubs. At that time, Paris and the French Riviera attracted many American artists and globetrotters, who greatly influenced the Années Folles nightlife. In fact, many cocktails with English names – Blue Lagoon, French 75, Bloody Mary – were created in the French capital.

Paris continues to celebrate this heritage with classic or signature recipes. For cocktails on a terrace near the most emblematic sites, try the luxurious Bar du Faubourg, located just a stone’s throw from La Concorde and the Tuileries Gardens, or head for the greenery of 18.75, a lounge bar in the heart of Montmartre.

Italian cocktails

In addition to wine, Italy is famous for its apéritifs and digestifs, many of which are used to make cocktails. There’s the Americano based on Campari and vermouth, the Amaretto Sour with its namesake liqueur, and the Spritz – a mixture of Aperol, Prosecco and tonic that has conquered the world. While in Rome, you can savour the arte di vivere on the terrace of Settimo. This panoramic bar near the Villa Borghese offers revisited classic cocktails with a sumptuous view.

Spanish cocktails

Sangria is arguably the first Spanish cocktail that comes to mind. This drink of fruits steeped in red wine, then mixed with ginger ale or sparkling water, is emblematic of the entire Iberian Peninsula. The Spanish are not shy about transforming their many wines into refreshing drinks, such as tinto de verano, also made from red wine, or agua de Valencia, which combines cava (a sparkling Spanish wine), gin, vodka and fresh orange juice. To conclude your adventures in Madrid with a poolside cocktail, head to Insolito. This bar and restaurant with panoramic terrace is a veritable oasis where you and your friends can gather around excellent housemade creations.

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(*) Average meal price calculated on the basis of starter and main course or main course and dessert, excluding drinks, menu and promotional offers. The average price is an estimate only, calculated according to the prices provided by the restaurant. Depending on the country, the average price may or may not include all taxes.