In Italy, an osteria is a place where the owner “hosts” people. That was exactly what Charleston restaurateur Massimiliano Sarrocchi and his wife, Natasha, wanted to do in their latest concept, Osteria la Bottiglia. Modeled after a centuries-old restaurant in Rome, its wine-cellar atmosphere and regional recipes welcome guests to kick back and truly do as the Romans do—indulge in abundant spirits, food, and company.
When bartender and Louisiana native Josh Alford joined the team in February, he and friend and fellow bartender John Calo concocted a menu of authentic but modern cocktail creations that exemplify Italy’s love of the sweet life. Their most popular drink, the Sardinian Sun—designed using grapefruit juice as a nod to the region’s signature citrus—is a sunset-colored sight to behold.
Aperol (a bitter aperitivo), pear vodka, rosemary simple syrup, and prosecco combine to form this simple, subtle libation, the perfect blend of bitter and sweet. “Europeans—Italians especially—tend to enjoy bitter cocktails,” Alford says. “Americans like sweeter drinks, so I wanted to create something that balances the two tastes.”
If you share the Italian taste for stronger bitter flavors, use Campari instead of Aperol and should you choose to use plain vodka, add a touch more syrup to sweeten it. “I top the drink with prosecco, which also adds effervescence, a little sparkle in the mouth,” says Alford. Sip before dinner or pair with a light Caprese salad and toast to la dolce vita.