Ingredients: Strega, Suze, Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic, sparkling wine
Taste: “Light and refreshing, but a little on the bitter side,” says Bar Mezzana beverage director Ryan Lotz. “It makes you salivate a little bit.” The earthy bitterness of Suze—a French gentian liqueur—marries with the herbal, honeyed qualities of Strega, which Lotz says is similar to yellow Chartreuse. Handed down for five generations, the Italian digestif’s proprietary recipe includes anise along with 70 other ingredients.
Backstory: Before Bar Mezzana’s June opening, Lotz and head bartender Jenna Rycroft set out to craft a spritz section: “It’s so part of Italian life; it goes beyond aperitivo hour,” Lotz explains. The lineup pairs well with the restaurant’s coastal Italian cuisine (and its two patios), and a low alcohol content means imbibers can handily go beyond the first round. The trio includes the easy-drinking Mezzana spritz, with Campari, peach, moscato and soda, the fruity Sophia, which swaps white wine for a sparkling red base, and this more adventurous choice—an offer you really can’t refuse—with a Godfather-inspired name.
Pair it with: Cold water barracuda, shima aji with horseradish or any of the crudo options from chef Colin Lynch, who spent the past year at O Ya after working as the executive chef for Barbara Lynch Gruppo.
Elsewhere on the cocktail menu: The new South End spot’s bar team is looking through an Italian lens without necessarily using Italian ingredients. “How can we make a julep taste really Italian?” muses Lotz, an alum of No. 9 Park and the Hawthorne, who ended up finding the answer in bonded bourbon with Averna and blackberry syrup.
Bar Mezzana 360 Harrison Ave., Boston (617-530-1770) barmezzana.com