One of my favourite inventions from Italy is aperitivo. While most tourists think it’s happy hour it’s not at all. Friends and family meet after work or school to get a bite to eat and have a drink. Without a doubt the most popular drink for aperitivo is the Spritz cocktail and while I’ve had many in Italy Dave hadn’t tried this iconic drink.
But that was about to change. Luca, a cook in Verona left a comment on Dave’s instagram inviting us to his city, offering to show us around. We couldn’t resist a personal tour guide and since we had a Eurail pass it was a pretty easy decision to make.
Why is it called the Spritz
While the word has existed in Italy for centuries, it was once to water down strong, northern Italian wines. Today it’s used for wine-based cocktails ,but the spritz didn’t really become popular until the alcohol producers Campari and Aperol and started heavily marketing it for aperitivo.
Now it is the drink to have after work and if you want to look less like a tourist join the locals for this bright orange cocktail.
But wait there’s more than one Spritz
Aperol and Campari are both Italian bitters, but not interchangeable. When you order a spritz you need to specify which one you want with it.
While Aperol is now owned by the Campari group, this bright orange drink is a bit lighter. It has only 7% alcohol but also a sweeter flavour. The colour of Campari is a bit more ruby red and has a stronger flavour. For this reason it’s viewed as the bigger brother of the two options.
There are also some regional variations with the spritz. In Venice the Spritz Veneziano or simply Veneziano is made with white wine instead of sparkling. It may also include a green olive garnish.
How to Make a Spritz Cocktail
3 parts prosecco or any sparkling wine
2 parts Aperol or Campari
1 part club soda
Top with a slice of orange and add an olive if you’re in Venice.
I think the Spritz cocktail is a bit of an acquired taste with the balance of sweet and bitter. But I love the idea of aperitivo hour. Everyone meets at the end of the day to talk and eat a snack before heading home for dinner.
Have you had a Spritz? Do you love it or hate it?