Palermo Cocktail Recipe

Jump to Recipe ⬇️

Palermo Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Palermo cocktail is a classic Italian-inspired drink that has been enjoyed by many for decades. It is named after the city of Palermo, the capital of Sicily, which is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine.

  • The Palermo cocktail is believed to have been created in the early 20th century, during the golden age of cocktails.
  • It is said to have been a favorite among Italian nobility and high society, who appreciated its elegant presentation and sophisticated flavor profile.
  • Today, the Palermo cocktail is enjoyed by people all over the world, who appreciate its timeless appeal and delicious taste.

How Palermo Tastes?

The Palermo cocktail is a delightful balance of sweet, sour, and bitter flavors, with a smooth, velvety texture. The combination of orange liqueur, vermouth, and bitters creates a complex, layered taste that is both refreshing and satisfying.

Interesting facts about Palermo

  • The Palermo cocktail is often served as an aperitif, to stimulate the appetite before a meal.
  • The drink is traditionally garnished with an orange twist, which adds a bright, citrusy note to the flavor profile.
  • The Palermo cocktail is sometimes compared to the classic Negroni, due to its use of vermouth and bitters, but it has a distinct flavor all its own.


Orange Liqueur

An integral component for the citrus backbone of our Palermo, the orange liqueur brings in a sweet and fruity punch. 1 oz is just the right amount to assert itself without overpowering the bitter notes of Campari. If we forgo this, we'd miss out on the zesty soul of the cocktail, which would be much like a symphony without its violins - technically music, but missing the flair!

Mary Mitkina

Sweet Vermouth

This is the smoothing agent, weaving together the bitter and the sweet into a harmonious sip. Our Palermo would be like a rowdy debate without it - all heat and no agreement. A 1 oz serving ensures a balance; too much would be like drowning our melody in syrup, and too little is like a cake without enough sugar - unsatisfying.

Mary Mitkina


Ah, the Campari - the heart of bitterness that gives this concoction its identity. Exactly 1 oz offers the assertive edge that the cocktail needs. Omitting Campari would be like Venice without the canals - sure, it's still Italy, but where's the magic? As for substitutions, swapping for Aperol could work if you're less inclined towards bitterness - think of it as swapping an espresso for Americano.

Alex Green

Orange Twist

The grand finale - a flourish of orange peel to add a touch of theatre and a hint of zest to the nose and palate. Without it, the cocktail is fine, but with it, it's like watching fireworks on New Year's Eve - a beautiful burst of excitement.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Palermo Drink

  1. Prepare the ingredients: Gather the orange liqueur, sweet vermouth, Campari, and an orange for the twist.
  2. Mix the cocktail: In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine the orange liqueur, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Stir well to chill and dilute the mixture.
  3. Strain and serve: Strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe or martini glass.
  4. Garnish: Cut a thin strip of orange peel, and twist it over the surface of the cocktail to release its oils. Gently rub the twist around the rim of the glass, then drop it into the drink.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh ingredients: Freshly squeezed orange juice and a fresh orange twist can make a big difference in the taste of your Palermo cocktail.
  • Chill your glass: A chilled glass will keep your cocktail cooler for longer, enhancing the overall experience.
  • Stir, don't shake: Stirring the cocktail helps to maintain the clarity of the drink and prevents it from becoming too diluted.

Perfect Pairings


  • Charcuterie: The bold flavors of the Palermo cocktail pair well with a variety of cured meats, which can stand up to the bitterness of the Campari and the sweetness of the vermouth and liqueur.
  • Cheese: A selection of cheeses, particularly aged varieties like Parmesan or Gouda, will complement the herbal and citrus notes of the cocktail.
  • Seafood: Try pairing with light seafood dishes, such as shrimp cocktail or a crisp calamari, to counterbalance the Palermo’s intensity.

Main Courses

  • Grilled Meats: The smokiness of grilled steak or pork would harmonize nicely with the Palermo's complex flavor profile.
  • Pasta: A plate of pasta with a tomato-based sauce makes a delicious companion, mirroring the sweet and bitter notes of the drink.


  • Chocolate: A dark chocolate tart or mousse can elevate the experience, as chocolate and orange are a classic pairing.

🍹 Discover the Top 50 All-Time Recipes! 🍹

Enter your email, and we'll send the exclusive list straight to your inbox.

We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously

What you could change in Palermo

  • Orange Liqueur: If you don't have orange liqueur, you can substitute it with another citrus-based liqueur like Cointreau or Grand Marnier.
  • Sweet Vermouth: If sweet vermouth is not available, you can use dry vermouth, but this will alter the taste of the cocktail.
  • Campari: If you don't have Campari, you can use another bitter liqueur like Aperol, but keep in mind that this will make the cocktail sweeter.

Explore all drinks starting with P here

And of course - twists🍹

Palermo Rosso

Swap out the sweet vermouth for a dry red wine and halve the Campari. You've just taken your Palermo on a rustic journey through the rolling hills of Tuscany. Less sweet, more tannin, and certainly a conversation starter.

Citrus Splash Palermo

Add a splash of fresh grapefruit juice and decrease the sweet vermouth to 0.5 oz. Grapefruit's tartness will playfully tease the Campari's bitterness while giving the cocktail a refreshing edge. It's summer in a glass, no matter the weather outside.

Palermo Blanco

Instead of traditional sweet vermouth, introduce a white vermouth and replace the Campari with a dash of elderflower liqueur. The drink becomes lighter, crisper, and whispers of floral notes. Perfect for those who fancy a gentle stroll rather than a bitter march.

In case you forgot basics how to make Palermo

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

Find the cocktail you'd love!

If you want to drink something else - you can use our AI-augmented search to find the best cocktail for you!
Completely free!

Frequently Asked Questions on Palermo

What's the ideal temperature for serving the Palermo cocktail?

Cocktails are best served chilled, so somewhere between 40°F to 45°F (5°C to 7°C) is ideal.

Does the Palermo cocktail pair well with food?

Yes, Palermo cocktail pairs well with appetizers, particularly those with flavors of Southern Italy like tomato bruschetta or charcuterie.

What's a good non-alcoholic substitute for the Orange Liqueur in a mocktail version of this drink?

You can use non-alcoholic orange extract or orange bitters mixed with orange juice.

Is there a significance to the Palermo cocktail's red color?

The red color isn't significant beyond traditionally being the color achieved when mixing these specific ingredients. That said, it does give the cocktail a vibrant, appealing look.

Can I prepare a batch of Palermo cocktails ahead of time for a party?

Yes, you can pre-batch the cocktail. However, remember to add the orange twist garnish just before serving.

Can I use plastic cups instead of glass for parties?

Yes, but use a high-quality, shatter-proof plastic cup. Glass cocktail cups are preferred for showcasing the color and presentation.

More similar recipes to Palermo!

Explore new cocktails you'd love!

Please rate this recipe