Now Playing

 The Church cocktail at Locanda.

Aperitif Cocktails Shine a Light on a Dark, Cold Night

To ward off the chill this season, one might expect local bartenders to be pouring warm mulled wine and thick, sweet cocktails wrapped in as many layers of alcohol as my neck is with scarves.

But oddly enough, I find myself drinking light-bodied aperitifs at many of the city’s best restaurants.   

I’ve enjoyed these at places like Cotogna, AQ, and Locanda, where the Church (pictured here in the foreground) is a model aperitif cocktail. This one features both Aperol and Cocchi Americano, two amari aperitivi with a fruity sweetness and low-alcohol content that’s accented by a brisk herbal bitterness. Lemon and gin round out the drink; while gin is a heavier spirit, its juniper thrust is just the sort of flavor to set my appetite pumping.

And, though it was an unusually brisk January night when I savored my Church cocktail, its pastel orange hue was not just a reminder of warm days to come but the perfect prelude to my winter meal as well.



557 Valencia St., SF