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What is an Aperol Spritz

Aperol is flying off shelves faster than a vespa on espresso. There’s a festa on the patio this summer and the Italian Aperol Spritz is our host.

Aperol is flying off shelves faster than a vespa on espresso. There’s a festa on the patio this summer and the Italian Aperol Spritz is our host.

The fashion industry of northern Italy sometimes comes across as too chic to be real. We’re relieved to tell you that this region also spawned a simple, approachable cocktail that looks cool whether you’re holding the glass daintily by the stem or palming it. The distinctive Aperol Spritz combines simplicity and elegance, which just might be a key to its success. Let’s get spritzed and find out. Andiamo!

What is an Aperol Spritz?

The impossibly popular Aperol Spritz cocktail is a bright, colorful Italian cocktail that centers on the liqueur known as Aperol. Anybody can whip this up: the only other ingredients are delicate prosecco, club soda and fresh orange garnish.

Why is Aperol Spritz so popular?

Curious about “spritz appeal”? Euro-legend goes that spritzes were popular with Austrian soldiers in northern Italy who found those bold Italian wines to be a little strong. The solution? Rather than lug Austrian beers across the alps, they “spritzed” a bit of sparkling water into the Italian wines to lower the ABV. The Italians piggy-backed on the idea: they added local bittersweet liqueur (Aperol’s ancestor), thereby scoring a rare victory for European cooperation. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

These days, Aperol Spritz breathes life into a brunch scene that was one mimosa away from banality. It’s light, refreshing and not so boozy that it’ll wreck the rest of your Sunday. You might still get the laundry done. Maybe.

Is the Aperol Spritz a bitter drink?

This classic recipe is nicely balanced and decidedly bittersweet. You’ll experience the citrus, grapefruity character of the Aperol with prosecco balancing much of the bitterness. If it’s too bitter for you, fear not! One weird trick we like to pull is to squeeze some of the fresh orange slice into it. This infuses the cocktail with a super-fresh sweetness. If you’re still feeling a bit bitter, you can also bump up the prosecco ratio, or if you're feeling particularly bold, opt for a preferred white wine. You might consider more soda water, or even a sparkling wine, to increase the spritzification - if that’s a word. Play with all these ingredients until they fit you right - we trust you.

How much alcohol is in an Aperol Spritz?

Alcohol content is less than 11%. Aperol itself is 11%, as is most prosecco. When you add soda water and ice, you’re knocking ABV down significantly. This makes the spritz a suitable day sipping candidate.

Aperol’s pretty face

True, good looks don’t hurt, either: even in a crowded cocktail scene, you can’t miss the incandescent reddish-orange glow coming from this tipple, particularly as it towers over you in a garnished tall wine glass. The Aperol Spritz cocktail is a photogenic drink, which probably accounts for its 106,000 followers on Instagram.

What is Aperol? What are the ingredients in Aperol?

Aperol is an Italian liqueur that features a proprietary blend of herbs. Which ones? Well, rhubarb (hence the glorious color), gentian and cinchona are the declassified ones. As for the others, the Campari group owns the recipe and their lips are sealed.

What does straight Aperol taste like?

On its own, Aperol has a citrusy sweet aroma that leaves room for some slightly bitter herbal complexity. The flavor confirms that, and the bitterness might stick with you for a few minutes. It’s a great aperitif, which is to say it kicks your appetite into gear before your pancakes and bacon. We like it even more as a mixer in the Aperol Spritz.

Aperol’s good marketing

Aperol became a full-on brand in 1919, and it’s enjoyed clever, creative marketing since then. Google “old aperol posters” and you’ll see an alluring mix of intriguing, goofy and downright sexy ads. Campari group took over the Aperol brand around the 2000’s, and they’ve been steadily increasing the brand’s visibility as a brunch/warm weather drink ever since.

Okay, now we’re thirsty. What’s the best way to make an Aperol Spritz?

Depends on your bitterness preference, but see our classic Aperol Spritz recipe for an authentic spritz to get your feet wet. It’s equal parts Aperol/prosecco with the signature splash of soda water. The orange slice goes on the rim of the glass, but it’ll probably fall in at some point, so don’t beat yourself up about that.

Which prosecco is best for an Aperol Spritz?

We like to go with a nice D.O.C. brand like La Marca, but feel free to shop around.

When to serve Aperol

Aperol’s sweet/bitter interplay pairs with brunch meals like omelets with hot sauce and anything with salty bacon on it. Break it out on a hot summer’s day for appetizers like smoked salmon and prosciutto with crackers; as an aperitif, it’s a splendid launchpad for pre-meal snacks. A good camping buddy, this is the type of drink you can make beforehand and then just add soda water/ice/orange. The spritz also thrives on live music on lawns everywhere. Ah, summer.

How to serve Aperol

The Italians have more long stem wine glasses than they can shake a stick at, and it turns out they can hold more than chianti. Serve your Aperol Spritz in one of these tall beauties so the sun can shine through. Also, no judgment if you need a straw to navigate the ice cubes.

Can you use Campari for an Aperol Spritz?

You sure can, but you’ll want to dial it back. Though they are liqueur siblings, it packs more than double the alcohol content of Aperol and has a more intense herbal/bitter character. You may want to use half as much Campari to start OR… go half Campari/half Aperol. You’ll get both the herbal richness of Campari and the citrusy goodness of Aperol. This type of thing gets pretty particular, so don’t forget that you’re the bartender here.

What’s another Aperol cocktail?

Aperol Negroni

This aperol cocktail is no doubt a boozier drink than the spritz, but it’s a great after dinner drink and Aperol has lower alcohol than your standard Campari. Just take equal parts Aperol, sweet vermouth and your favorite gin and you’ve got yourself a heady cocktail worthy of a person of your station.

Amaro and the Venetian Spritz

Aperol is actually a lighter cousin of a group of Italian bitter liqueurs called “amaro”. One of these, Select Aperitivo, is quite appropriate as an ingredient in the Venetian Spritz. Use the classic Aperol Spritz recipe here, but swap in the Select for an even darker, richer experience - even if you aren’t canal-side. Could be that the Venetian Spritz will be your fall brunch drink!

Whether the Aperol Spritz becomes your brunch drink of choice is up to you, but it’s certainly an excellent new card for your brunch/happy hour deck. Order some today right here on Drizly before summer passes us by. Saluti!