L'Apicio had barely flung open its doors before the restaurant's bar started swarming with orange wine-swilling patrons. Yet the tipples here -- Epicurean Management's first East Village venture -- are just as delightful as a prelude to charred octopus at one of the restaurant's tables.

Like his West Village lairs dell'anima and L'Artusi, Joe Campanale's petite cocktail list at L'Apicio is decidedly Italian. For the Montenegro Sour, a refined ode to a simple whiskey sour with a red wine float, Campanale turned to Montenegro amaro, the aromatic Emilia Romagna-made liqueur layered with bittersweet botanicals.

"I thought about how I like to drink the Montenegro -- on the rocks with citrus -- so I grabbed a bottle of Amère Nouvelle bitters," he recalls. "This was one I felt I had to tinker with to get the proportions correct, but once they fell into place I loved how the floral, herbal aromas combined to make a complex but drinkable cocktail."

Crowned with a cloud of frothy egg whites and a sprig of rosemary, the aperitivo, balanced with lemon juice and simple syrup is also a beauty.

1 ½ oz. Montenegro Amaro
¾ oz. Amère Nouvelle bitters
¾ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. egg white
Rosemary garnish

IIn a cocktail shaker, vigorously shake the amaro, bitters, egg white, lemon and simple syrup. Add ice to the shaker and shake again for 20-30 seconds. Strain into chilled rocks glass. Garnish with sprig of rosemary

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