There’s a reason grapes rarely make their way into cocktails. Thin-skinned and messy when muddled, their relatively neutral flavor is lifted only by a pop of natural tartaric acidity. But Vincenzo Errico, the mastermind behind the modern classic Red Hook cocktail and the current owner of L’ArteFatto in Naples, Italy, didn’t care about the humble grape’s perceived shortcomings. He saw its potential.
While working at Match in London in 2001, Errico harnessed the fruit, pairing it with Campari, lemon, gin and sugar to create the Enzoni, a sour cocktail that would become one of contemporary cocktail culture’s earliest champions of bittersweet flavors. “When I made the Enzoni, it was a bit ahead of its time,” says Errico, whose goal was to subtly introduce Campari—at the time, considered “an unusual ingredient for the British palate”—to guests at the bar.
That’s where the grapes come in. Beyond their acidity, grapes add subtle sweetness and tannins, which, when paired with lemon juice, create what Errico likens to a grapefruit-like flavor, a natural complement to Campari’s citrus notes. Plus, he says, aside from the taste, the grapes fit within his core drink-making philosophies, which he honed under the tutelage of Milk & Honey’s Sasha Petraske: The ingredient must be readily available at other bars, cost-friendly and efficient to serve; grapes required no prep, they only needed to be tossed in the tin and muddled.
“The original Enzoni actually had red currants in it as well,” notes Errico. “But when I presented the drink to Sasha, he was like, ‘What are you doing with red currants? They don’t really give off any flavor.’ And so I dropped the red currants from the recipe and the cocktail only used grapes from then on.”
While the Enzoni was known among London’s craft cocktail bartenders in the early aughts, it would take almost two decades to truly catch on. As aperitivo culture went from strength to strength in the 2010s thanks in part to bars like Dante in New York and Bar Termini in London, which brought renewed attention to Italianate drinking, it was only a matter of time until the Enzoni got its turn in the spotlight.
That came in 2019, when well-established YouTube bartender The Educated Barfly shared a cocktail tutorial to make the pink-hued sour on his channel, causing a chain effect of videos and posts by other bartenders and social media–savvy cocktail enthusiasts—including a pandemic-era tutorial by Steve the Bartender that spurred on the popularity of the Enzoni. Currently, there are more than 1,500 posts and counting with the #Enzoni tag on Instagram.
This Enzoni boom is not confined to social media, either. The cocktail has also been popping up on bar menus in cities across the globe, from Kraków, Poland, to Hannover, Germany, and Sydney, Australia, where Steve the Bartender is from. Of course, it is also a popular drink at Errico’s L’ArteFatto, too. “It’s been crazy, people from all over the world have been tagging me [on Instagram], sharing their Enzonis,” says Errico. “My friends even send photos of the drink to me whenever they see it on menus.”
It’s not often that a cocktail is awakened from its slumber two decades after its creation, and even rarer for that drink to become a sensation. But the Enzoni has all the trappings of a modern classic: easily accessible ingredients and simple technique, helped along by a flavor profile that’s never been more in demand. “Even with the Negroni’s popularity, some drinkers still aren’t ready for its bitterness,” says Errico. “Luckily, for those drinkers who want to ease their way into the world of bitter drinks, the Enzoni is perfect.”