Final paper due in a week? It’ll be left to the last minute. Group project looming on the horizon? The group chat hasn’t even been made yet. Test that counts for 30 percent of your final grade tomorrow? Cramming starts in an hour. So is the mindset of a second-semester senior. It seems senioritis has visited each and every Eagle who soon plans to leave campus and embark into “the real world.” In the past few months, I have fallen prey to this unfortunate mindset. And it’s this exact mindset that prompted me to buy a round trip ticket to Rome, Italy and take a week off of classes … that I very much should have been in.
In all honesty, though, I had planned the trip far in advance and taken steps to make sure I was up to speed on my work and had notes sent to me by my classmates. So, on April 6, I boarded a plane to Portugal, survived a layover in Lisbon, and landed in Rome to visit a friend who is studying abroad. In light of this trip, the column will look a little different this week. While I debated making a cocktail in my small Airbnb apartment, I decided instead to document a few of the drinks I had while there.
My first night in Rome, my two friends and I leisurely walked the streets and saw landmarks like the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. The beautiful thing about eating in Italy is that you have an infinite number of restaurants to choose from, most of them boasting low prices for authentic dishes. My heart sang as I ate carbonara for eight euros and drank house wine that was six euros a liter. Before every meal, we usually had an aperitif, and I always went with the Negroni. I started off this first meal with one that was better than any I had had in the states.
Negronis are one of my favorite cocktails. Made out of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, every ingredient is alcohol, so this drink packs a punch. If you have a few sips on an empty stomach as you’re waiting for your small plates to come out, you’ll find yourself a little tipsy by the time a plate piled high with pasta arrives. I will always rate a Negroni a 10 out of 10—to me, it is the perfect cocktail. But maybe that’s just because I’m a big gin enthusiast. Check out this recipe if you’re interested in making one. And remember, stir, don’t shake.
The natural wine fanbase has grown over the past couple of years and for a good reason. It’s a lighter taste and usually has a lower alcohol content, making it a super enjoyable drink to have during a picnic or with an early dinner. My friend took us to a small natural wine bar near his dorm in Trastevere, Rome. We chatted with the owner for a bit, and he told us about his aspirations to open a natural wine bar in SoHo, Manhattan. The wine bar certainly felt like it was plucked out of downtown New York, with its cool interior and mirror-lined bar. I have tried natural wine before and thought it tasted more like an intense cider than a glass of wine. Canlibero’s V for Vittorio from Campania, Italy, though, was a much different glass than I had had before. At 12.5 percent, it was just as alcoholic as a regular bottle of wine, but it still had that light and fresh taste that natural wine has, setting it apart from a normal bottle of wine. This wine was seven out of 10.
I won’t say much about this digestif. If you know, you know. Yes, limoncello tastes good and is a yummy way to end off a meal, but the act of sipping on limoncello with a group of friends is half the fun. At the end of most of our meals, we’d order a round of limoncello shots. Bigger than the average 1.5 ounce shot you might find in a bar, this after-dinner delight is meant to be sipped, as digestifs help with digestion after a meal. I can’t offer much evidence on that front, but I can say that a limoncello shot will always get a solid six out of 10 from me, taste and experience wise.
Baby Guinness Shot
Again, if you know, you know. The first time I tried a baby Guinness shot was in Ireland last summer. My cousins and I were having a few drinks at the bar in the hotel we were staying in and ended off the night with a round of baby Guiness shots. It’s a simple shot—2 ounces of coffee liquor with half an ounce of Irish cream liquor floated on top—but it is one of the most delicious in the game. Though it doesn’t have any Guinness in it, the shot gets its name from the fact that it looks like the baby version of the popular Irish beer. I bonded with other college students abroad in a popular bar at night over baby Guinness shots as we took turns buying each other rounds. I give a 10 out of 10 for this adorable concoction. If you’re looking to make it for your roommates this weekend, check out this recipe.
I sipped a delicious Monsupello while picking away at cured meats and cheeses on the patio of my apartment. This specific sparkling wine is made from Pinot Nero grapes, the very same as Pinot Noir, a popular kind of red wine. Hence, this sparkling bottle has a slightly red hue and a deeper taste than a bottle of cava or prosecco. I like all sparkling wines, and I’m always looking for little things that set a certain bottle apart from the rest, just like this bottle of Monsupello Metodo Classico. It is a solid seven out of 10.
My trip to Rome was defined by taking in the world-famous ruins, eating more pasta than a human should in a year, and indulging in delicious cocktails and wine. Is my bank account completely done for? Yes. Would I do it all again in a heartbeat? Absolutely. If you’re looking for a slight taste of Italy, or Europe for that matter, give any of these drinks a shot this weekend.
Photos Courtesy of Maeve Reilly / Heights Senior Staff