I get excited about things. That is one way to put it. Maybe it is more accurate to say I get infatuated and obsess about things. That’s cool. It happens. I am constantly amazed at just how many of the classics I still have not tried out in the world or at least have not tried to make here in my, once again shrinking world. So much to experience, so little time, as they say. In the interest of cramming as much life in to the allotted time as possible, won’t you let me introduce you to my latest obsession as we stand and make the classic Aperol Spritz.
The spritz is a whole category of drinks bringing together sparkling wine, a spirit, usually a bitter aperitif, and soda water, in the classic 3-2-1 ratio. The Aperol Spritz is the go to before dinner drink in many parts of the world, mainly due to savvy marketing from the folks over at Aperol since the 1950’s. I had my first, well second, actually, Aperol Spritz recently and I just fell in love. It was served as an appetizer beverage with the charcuterie at our most recent cocktail class. I was blown away by the simplicity of the drink and have been making them on the regular, as the kids say, ever since. While slowly sipping that first, I mean second, one I was reminded of a drink I had in Rome several years ago, a wonderfully orange aperitivo that the manager brought us to get things started. I remember really enjoying it and meaning to ask what it was, before more drinks flowed and it slipped my mind. Looking back, I clearly had my first Aperol Spritz that day, I just did not know it. Ain’t life grand?
This one is super simple and we build it in the glass, so no extra clean up. Grab something tall and goblet-ish and pop in 3 ounces of Prosecco, I chose Belletti, since it is a little bit dryer than most; 2 ounces of Aperol and 1 ounce of soda water. Add two dashes of The Bitter Truth Olive Bitters and some artisanal ice before giving it a quick stir to the beat of Caterina Valente singing her classic “Samba di una Nota“. Slip in a slice of Cara Cara orange, a sprig of fresh rosemary and add a couple of olives on a cocktail pick before serving.
It’s light, it’s refreshing, it isn’t very alcoholic, so you could have several. Aperol comes in at about 22 proof and sparkling wine is fairly lightweight, so enjoy in good heath and moderation. There is a sweetness from the prosecco that gets tempered by the orangey bitterness of the Aperol. I love that hint of salt and acid from the olives and the bitters. This one is just nicely balanced all the way around. A lot of the success of this drink, like usual, depends on the ingredients. So, use a quality sparkling wine that you like and if you find the drink a bit dry, go with a sweeter prosecco or flip that script, if you prefer. For that matter, you can swap your aperitif and still have a great drink. I like this same recipe using Capelletti or Cynar and I have even heard that some intrepid souls will make a Campari Spritz, though I cannot think why any reasonable person would do that.
This is a great early afternoon treat and a nice pre-dinner drink. We celebrated my Grandma’s 95th birthday this weekend with a big family dinner and I served these to great effect. That 3-2-1 ratio makes it easy to whip them up individually, or to batch them to serve several at once. I would not suggest making too many beforehand, since you want those bubbles to be fresh, but it is certainly easier to mix them up 10 at a time and it makes a gorgeous carafe full of joy with those orange slices and rosemary floating in there. Grandma is not much of a drinker, but she tried one and found that sip acceptable. I love how she humors me. Everyone else leaned into this alleged humidity cure and we toasted her very good health and many happy returns before sending everyone home full of cake, spritzes and love. There is nothing in the world wrong with that. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.