We were in Varenna, the best town in the Italian Lake District, and it was time for an aperitivo. It was time for a spritz!
Touring the area with my aunt, uncle and cousins, we stopped at a lakeside bar to enjoy the view and I explained the ubiquitous aperitivo drink to all. Months later my same aunt was whipping up spritz’s at any and every family gathering, clearly enjoying her newfound cocktail.
And it’s not just her.
Apparently, Italy’s favorite aperitivo drink is this summer’s hot new cocktail.
After a huge (and successful) marketing campaign, the Aperol spritz has hit it big in America as well. The drink is light, refreshing and perfect for summer.
Remember, an Italian aperitivo is a pre-meal drink, generally enjoyed between 7 pm and 9 pm, when Italians meet to relax over a glass of wine or a light cocktail and finger foods (though in some locales you’ll find quite the buffet). A distiller from Turin essentially created the concept, claiming that a white wine with various spices stimulated the appetite and was light enough for all drinkers (even, gasp, women!). From then on, bitters of all styles were a perfectly appropriate pre-dinner drink. Vermouth, martini, and later, the bright reddish-orange spritz.
Aperol itself is bittersweet, much less biting than a martini. Another spritz option is a Campari spritz, made with Campari instead of Aperol. Redder than the orange-hued Aperol, it’s also a bit more bitter, so be sure to specify which you prefer when ordering.
Though Americans are just now catching on, there’s nothing new about the Aperol spritz. The Veneto region has always enjoyed wonderful white wines. In the early 1800s, when it was controlled by Austria-Hungary, the habit of adding a splash of water to the wine was born. In fact “spritzer” or “spritzen loosely meaning “splash” in German. Later, as the love of vermouths grew (see above), adding Aperol, invented in Padua in 1919, just made sense.
How to Make a Perfect Spritz
Not only that, but the hottest drink of the summer is also insanely easy to mix. Like the ads say, it’s just 3-2-1: Three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol and one splash of soda water, poured into a wine glass with ice and an orange slice. You don’t even need to measure if you don’t want. Just pour the prosecco a little more than halfway, fill with Aperol and in the last centimeter of space splash it with soda water for the perfect Aperol Spritz.