The Aperol Spritz or Lo Spritz as it is called in Italy, is an essential part of the pre-dinner ritual while sitting in the piazza as the sun sets after a long summer’s day. The streets become lively as locals arrive to “prendiamo un aperitif” or have an aperitif and socialize. The florsecent orange colored Aperol Spritz gently eases one into the evening, as the alcohol content is lower than your standard cocktail. I silently chuckle each time a cherished Italian friend firmly refuses a cocktail deferring to Lo Spritz instead; his way of thinking renders a Spritz as virtually nonalcoholic, thereby perfectly respectable. Relaxing in the shade with an Aperol Spritz, a few little snacks and some friends typifies what many have come consider emblematic of La Dolce Vita, the sweet life.
The distinctive flavor of a Spritz is attributed to the the aperitif Aperol; a spirit with an 11% alcohol contenet combining the extracts of bitter orange, herbs and roots resulting in a citrusy yet bitter flavor. The secret formula for Aperol, which by the way has never been altered, was originally developed in Padua in 1919 by the Barberi Brothers; today Aperol is owned by Gruppo Compari. Interestingly enough Aperol did not become popular until after World War II. Through the aggressive marketing efforts of Compari, the Aperol Spritz has become widely fashionable in the past ten plus years, particularly with the target population of young adults. The Aperol Spritz, generally an inexpensive drink, is often presented with some simple salty snacks setting the perfect scene for early evening gatherings.
Venice, Padua and Trieste clamor for origination rights to the Spritz; more than likely the clever combination of spirits resulted during the early 19th century when this portion of Northern Italy was ruled by the Austrian Empire. Evidently, the wines produced in the region were a tad too strong for the gentile Hapsburg soldiers, so they took to adding just a splash or spritz of mineral water to delute them.
Gruppo Campari’s traditional Aperol Spritz recipe is three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol, and one part sparkling water. There are numerous variations on a theme for the Spritz including substitutions with white wine, Campari, and Cynar. You shouldn’t be surprised that my resident mixologist, Mio Marito, has his own special approach to this delightful aperitif, and his version of Lo Spritz is as devine as his Negroni.
Trust me when I say it is perfect, just try it in the company of good friends with some simple sputino or snacks early one summer’s evening.
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- 3 ounces of Prosecco or a good quality Italian White Wine
- 1 ounce of Aperol
- Orange wedge
- 4 to 6 ice cubes, depending upon the size of your glass
- Stemmed Wine Glass
- Place the ice cubes in the bowl of your stemmed wine glass, add the Aperol followed by the Prosecco or White wine. Garnish with an orange wedge and enjoy immediately.