Aperol Spritz: the Iconic Italian Aperitif
Read All About Italy’s Favorite Aperitivo
The rest of the world has recently caught on to something that the Italians have known for a long time; Aperol spritz is the perfect aperitif. This mixture of sparkling prosecco and the orange Aperol liqueur with plenty of ice and a dash of soda is refreshing, fun and very trendy. Read more about the origins of this iconic Italian aperitif.
The History of Spritz
The term “spritz” comes from the German verb “spritzen” which means to “splash”. During World War II Austrian troops descended into Northeastern Italy. They were not particularly fond of the local wine, so they began to add a dash of water to the glass to make the wine more suitable for their palates.
Over time the original spritz developed into the delicious blend of bubbles and bitters we know today. The first and most common version of the spritz is made with Aperol, an Italian liquor made with bitter oranges, rhubarb, roots, herbs and another 30 secret ingredients (the original recipe has never been modified). It was invented in 1919 by the Barbieri brothers in the city of Padua as a “tonic for active men” (it only has 11% alcohol content).
In the 1950s Aperol began to be used in the preparation of Spritz and the rest is history! In 2000 the Campari Group purchased Aperol (after solemnly promising not to make any changes to the original recipe) and launched it internationally.
The last two decades have seen the Spritz appear on cocktail menus across the globe but it is a quick and simple drink to make at home so here is the recipe for a perfect Aperol Spritz:
3 parts of prosecco
2 parts of Aperol
1 splash of soda
Fill a large glass (a big red wine glass works well) with ice cubes (do not use crushed ice!). Add the prosecco, then the Aperol, and finish with a dash of soda. Garnish with a slice of orange.
Spritz can also be made with other bitter liqueurs. Aperol was the first but there are now countless alternatives to try. Popular versions include Campari, Cynar (an artichoke liqueur), red wine, and lemon syrup but as long as it has a low alcohol content and is mixed with bubbles you can let your imagination run wild.
Remember, Spritz is a pre-dinner drink. It is lightly alcoholic and prepares you for what the rest of the evening may bring. It is the perfect drink to end the day and welcome the night!
Learn more about Spritz and the Italian ritual of pre-dinner aperitivo on our Italian Cocktail Hour Tour in Rome!