Aperitivo time: Aperol Spritz

It is all manner of libation which has been delivered to my table after having asked for “Spritz, please,” still white wine mixed with sparkling soda water; red wine with still mineral water and fruit slices (something more akin, perhaps, to Sangria than Spritz); and once, in a real WTF moment – still wine, no sparkling soda water, with a boat-sized wedge of lemon sailing in the glass – which, upon waiter’s explanation, apparently constituted a “spritz” of lemon, of course.

I shall shoulder some of the blame for not having always specified Aperol Spritz. But it would seem there are as many interpretations of and recipes for Spritz as there are for Italian pasta sauce(s).

By virtue of the fact that only on occasion, when ordering Spritz, does an iced glass of Prosecco combined with the Italian aperitif Aperol and splash of soda water in complimentary proportions, along with an orange slice for garnish (cut not too thin or thick, mind you) – please don’t forget the black straw – arrive as expected.

So, we need to talk Spritz, Aperol Spritz, specifically.

The Educated Barfly suggests that, “the origin of the Spritz dates back to 1805 during the Napoleonic wars. In the years following the end of those wars the Austro-Hungarian empire took ownership of the Veneto region of Italy, where Venice is located. The Austrians held that region for the next 50 years and developed a custom of adding a splash or in German a “Spritz” of water to the local wine” (Youtube.com). According to Wikipedia, the Aperol Spritz derives its contemporary origin from the Venetian tradition of mixing white wine and soda. Adding that, “the acquisition of the Aperol brand by Gruppo Campari in 2003, along with a good marketing campaign, positioned Aperol Spritz as “the perfect drink for social occasions, increasing sales to four times pre-acquisition levels.”

No argument there. Aperol Spritz is the perfect low alcohol transition from the day’s work to that lovely wind-down time leading up to the dinner hour, aka, aperitivo time, or in some circles, happy hour.

Even in Italy there are different interpretations of Aperol Spritz depending on one’s locale. Variations on the Aperol Spritz theme may be found to exist in Florence compared, say, to Verona. But, any distinctions (within reason) start to fade as one begins to understand the phenomenon of Spritz/aperitivo as a mentality, an attitude, really, that is connected to lifestyle, socializing, and living well. In that context, rigid adherence to any one specific recipe seems not at all the point. One would do well to embrace variations when encountered and focus on the experience.

When out socializing with friends, you can leave the making of Aperol Spritz to the bar pros at your favorite watering hole. Not that making one is difficult! The drink’s easy 3-2-1 recipe lets you prepare Aperol Spritz at home like a pro when entertaining or simply for a personal pre-dinner wind-down:

Begin with a large-bowl wine glass. Add few cubes of ice and swirl them to chill the glass. Leaving the ice cubes in the glass, add 3 parts chilled Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 part soda water. Following the suggested order of preparation prevents the Aperol from gathering at the bottom of the glass (Aperol.com). Garnish with a slice of orange.

Feel free to tinker.

And again: please don’t forget the black straw.

I almost forgot: what does a good Aperol Spritz taste like? Well, an Aperol Spritz is fizzy. And slightly bittersweet. In a good way. With notes of citrus. The drink’s glorious orange color is a metaphor for sunny summer days, pretty sunsets, and an antidote to bad weather gloom. More important, perhaps, is what Aperol Spritz and the time you take to enjoy it, represent, i.e., that aforementioned Spritz mentality: a ritual of decompressing, taking life a bit more slowly, appreciating friends, an attitude for living well.

Let’s not forget the munchies aka cicchetti aka snacks! Especially delectable accoutrements with Aperol Spritz include premium potato chips, a classic, and personal favorite. Let me recommend Torres brand Jamon Iberico chips, Iberian ham-flavored potato chips that out-chip all come’ers. Marcona almonds, and mixed olives are both exceptional pairings as well. Don’t hesitate to serve Aperol Spritz alongside your favorite small bites, too, finger sandwiches and even pizza, as it is an exceptionally versatile and food-friendly drink guaranteed to keep good company with whatever nibbles you bring to the table.

Bele Casel Prosecco Extra Dry

Crisp and bright, with a perfume of pear, apple and citrus-floral overtones. Vibrant fine bubbles, and a wonderfully balanced palate that feels round, fat, and completely in tune. Finishes with an almond cream aftertaste and an intriguing sense of structure. A magnificent bottle of refreshing pleasure.

Source: L’Italo-Americano

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