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The secret to making your tequila drinks fall-friendly is Aperol

Need to transition your tequila drinks into the fall season? Look no further than Aperol

Aperol spritz
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As the warmth of summer has faded into the cooler weather, as it always does, many people think the changing of the seasons means fewer frozen margaritas. And while that might be true, just because it’s not frozen drink weather, it doesn’t mean you have to give up tequila. The agave spirit can transition into fall seamlessly with the bittersweet touch of Aperol, among a few other things.

First, a bit of history. Aperol is more than a century old, a famously red-orange bitter apéritif born in northern Italy. It’s a lighter cousin of Campari, both in terms of hue and alcoholic heat. Mostly, it’s incorporated into a spritz. Yet, Aperol works wonders when it’s combined with tequila, especially as you look to add a little more depth and weight to your drinks as autumn arrives.

An easy way to jumpstart that transition from summer to fall with tequila by your side is simply changing up the style. Whether you’re sipping or mixing, move from a blanco to a reposado. The added time in the barrel tends to lead to fall-friendly and comforting flavors like dried fruit, spice, wood, and candied nuts. Blanco can still do the job, as some of the drinks below suggest, but keep this trick in your back pocket, especially as fall inevitably greets winter.

Spritz cocktail in glasses with fresh oranges
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What does Aperol taste like?

Before we get into ways to combine Aperol with tequila, let’s take a look at its flavor profile to get an idea as to why it pairs so well with tequila. Aperol contains sweet and bitter oranges, rhubarb, and gentian root. You’ll also taste the bark of the cinchona tree, the quinine-containing ingredient that is used in many bitter drinks, with tonic water being the most well known.

The flavor profile of Aperol is unlike many other liqueurs in that it has a taste that is both bitter and sweet, with the oranges providing its distinctive color and sweet fruity flavor, while the other ingredients like cinchona add the bitterness. The fruitiness of Aperol is what makes it an ideal pairing with tequila.

Now, here are a few tequila drinks that call on Aperol to fully embrace the changing seasons.

Bartender Kat Foster stirring a cocktail
Ye Fan / Eleven Madison Park

Aperol and tequila cocktails you must try

Autumn Sun

This simple but satisfying drink is all about ratios. A little Aperol goes a long way, keep that in mind. Here, we mash up the warming flavors of reposado tequila with the bittersweet punch of both Aperol and a good bitter orange liqueur. For less brightness, try adding a bit of simple or maple syrup to your shaker.


  • 2 parts reposado tequila
  • 1 part Aperol
  • 1 part bittersweet orange liqueur (we suggest Tattersall)
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice


  1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass over a large ice cube and garnish with lemon.

Subliminal Messages

This drink, the work of Jeremy Oertel and featured in Death & Co.’s cocktail book, Welcome Home, is a delight. We’ve simplified it a bit, opting out of infusing the tequila with jalapeno (if you’re feeling up for it, by all means). The smoke from the mezcal fares wonderfully with the Aperol and the vermouth brings it all together. If you can’t get your hands on the Giffard liqueur, try swapping in a little grapefruit soda and simple syrup.


  • 1 ounce mezcal (Del Maguey Santo Domingo Albarradas is suggested)
  • 1 ounce tequila (Siembra Valles Blanco is suggested)
  • 1 ounce Dolin blanc vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce Aperol
  • 1/4 ounce Giffard creme de pamplemousse rose


  1. Stir all the ingredients over ice, then strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass.
  2. Express lemon twist over the drink, then place in the glass.

Dead Man’s Handle

When a combo is so good, in this case, Aperol and tequila, you don’t need much else to get in its way. This drink from Steve the Bartender brings on a bit of tropical-ness with orgeat and lime juice. It’s the drink equivalent of a post-Labor Day trip to the tropics.


  • 3 parts blanco tequila
  • 1 part Aperol
  • 1 part orgeat
  • 1 part lime juice


  1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a tulip glass or wine glass with pebbled ice.

A Different Plane

This drink is inspired by the classic Paper Plane cocktail. Instead of bourbon, it plugs in tequila. The addition of Averna adds some of those darker notes that bourbon would have. It’s a great autumn sipper. Consider leaving out the simple syrup if you really like the bitter notes of a good amaro.


  • 2 parts reposado tequila
  • 1 part Aperol
  • 1 part averna
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 part simple syrup
  • A few dashes of Angostura bitters


  1. Combine all ingredients except bitters in a shaker and shake with ice.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass and top with bitters.

Going into fall, if you like tequila, keep a bottle of Aperol close by. It’s a simple combination with plenty of permutations that’ll have you mixing well into the season. The drinks will dazzle, both in terms of flavor and the incredible color that only Aperol can impart.

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Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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